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Shell Energy - Failure to disclose data


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Posted (edited)

I have also been made aware that information officers use a strategy to prevent data being considered personal by referring to cases using different names or aliases in order to discuss matters without referring to the person concerned.

 

It could well be that when discussing the issues of running my account they have simply been reffered to as John Doe and thus would deny any information contained was in reference to my account.

Edited by Intrepid
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Ok. Make sure that you don't disclose what data you have in your possession that they have not disclosed.

Make sure that you don't give them any clue as to what particular data you think is missing.

 

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for your reply, I will not.

 

While they have been informed their disclosure of meter readings is incomplete they are completely unaware (unless they read this forum) as to the detail of the remaining data that has not been disclosed.

 

I do think in part I had a responsibility as per PAPLOC to attempt to resolve the conflict prior to issuing the claim by specifically indicating some of the data I believe to be missing. However as I did not receive an adequate response the claim has been issued and I can also now indicate in future that I did assisted them in some way with the incomplete disclosure.

 

This may give them an inflated sense of confidence to defend the claim. Ultimately I may lose and am prepared to lose based on judge lottery, however I wish to argue the case and if possible secure the judgement and full disclosure before continuing with further action.

Edited by Intrepid
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Although on one hand it might be said that you had a responsibility to help them resolve the problem, we are talking here about a statutory breach.

 

As soon as the deadline has expired and the disclosure has not been completely made than they are in breach.

End of story.

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Posted (edited)

I agree, their response to my insistance of a full disclose of readings was to send me a copy of all the bills generated for the account.

 

This was completed well outside the 30 day statutory deadline, so the position is either the bills do not constitute a full disclosure and they are in breach, or the bills do satisfy the disclosure but were disclosed after the statutory deadline thus still constituting a statutory breach.

 

Notwithstanding all the other missing data listed above.

Edited by Intrepid
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An interesting development.

 

The Ombudsman has just completely reversed their ruling that Shell Energy were running my account correctly and have made a second award of £125.

 

I now have to consider whether to accept this decision and suspect if I do this will mean I have been restituted for the incorrect running of my account and will not be able to pursue a claim for incorrect processing of data.

 

Previously the Ombudsman had carried out a flawed investigation and made an incorrect decision that I rejected. As a result I was prepared to bring a claim for incorrect processing of data, or perhaps breach of contract against Shell Energy for the mismanagement of my account.

 

I predict that rejecting the revised decision in order to pursue a larger claim could be considered unreasonable and reduce my chances of success were I to bring a later claim.

 

I have not yet received a response either written or via MCOL from Shell Energy regarding their incomplete disclosure which was deemed issued on 24th August.

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Thanks for the update.

I think you are right to be cautious about accepting the award. Is there a deadline for it?

I'm going to read over the thread to get myself back into the loop

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please can you post up this most recent ombudsman's decision in PDF format.

I certainly think that you shouldn't accept the award made by the ombudsman but on the other hand I don't think you should be too quick to reject it. Is there a deadline for it? In a way it doesn't really matter whether you reject it by the deadline because if you simply remain silent then it is taken to have been a rejection.

However when is the deadline? I see that you have issued a claim on about 26 August. Has there been any response or reaction from Shell?

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No response has been received yet from Shell Energy regarding the claim issued on the 24th regarding the incomplete disclosure.

On the one hand rejecting the Ombudsman decision may be considered unreasonable to pursue further action. On the other hand the new decision handed down by the Energy Ombudsman is independent confirmation by an industry body that Shell Energy have grossly mishandled the processing of my data.

In addition the remedy proposed is one that clearly Shell Energy could have elected to carry out at any time during the complaints process which has been on going for over 5 months. Instead Shell Energy chose to dispute all the complaints I submitted and insist that they did not have to take any action as there was no remedy required by the Ombudsman.

Based on the above perhaps the  £125 award would have been sufficient had Shell Energy corrected the issue in a timely manner, however thier subsequent conduct leaves me minded to still bring a claim. Perhaps it would be best to asses this depending on their response to the claim I have already submitted.

The deadline to respond to the Ombudsman is 14 days, however I could request an extension, perhaps pending a response to the claim I have submitted.

I have attached the revised Ombudsman's decision (which they no doubt made to save face before the full face of their complaint mismanagement is reviewed by the IA). Prior warning it is lengthy and of significant substance.



 

Shell Energy - Ombudsman Reviewed Decision.pdf

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Having considered the issue further, the Ombudsman remedy does not address the fact additional standing charges have been applied to my account as a consequence of Shell Energy mishandling my data.

 

In addition the Omubudsman is likely unable or unwilling to remedy for the credit markers Shell Energy will have laid down on my credit file.

 

While I could begin the complaints process from the beginning regarding the above matters, I have no faith in Shell Energy's repsonse to any complaint given their previous conduct.

 

A substantial claim is likely to wake them up to perhaps correcting all the issues they have caused without the un-necessary farse of having them reject my complaints and disputing the energy ombudsman process thus extending the time taken to correct the problems they have caused me by weeks at a time.

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The ombudsman's deadline of 14 days gives you ample time to see whether or not Shell file an acknowledgement of the claim and then allow themselves a further 14 days before a defence. Of course they may be totally at sea and they may not file any response at all.

A court claim for nondisclosure or a subsequent court claim for inaccurate data processing is a far more serious matter than a simple ombudsman's decision and so I would certainly recommend that you go for the court process and decline the ombudsman's decision. However, as indicated, I would certainly wait until the 14 days since the issue of your claim before doing anything. Frankly if you are going to decline then I wouldn't even bother to reply.

It may be that Shell are waiting to see what your response is to the ombudsman before they file their response to your claim. Best to keep them completely in the dark.

Best to bide your time. Monitor the County Court web service and if it allows you to apply for judgement at the end of 14 days – +2 days for service – then enter judgement immediately. Don't hang around – and then put the bailiffs in.
Then at the same time I would send another letter of claim in respect of their continuing failure to disclose and prepare to issue another claim.

You might like to read up on a claim that we have got going against virgin for breach of SAR disclosure rules

 

We can start playing the same game and see what point they wake up.
 

lots of fun to be had if they don't file an acknowledgement or a defence.

 

 

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Also I'm starting to read the ombudsman's decision.
I'll make comments on this post and update it as I go through.

However I see that the first requirement of the ombudsman is that they should cancel the bill issued to you on your account and input the meter reading of 1080 on the 21 November 2020.

 

Be aware that we are nearly at November 21 and so any bill which is given will be subject to back billing rules and they will not be able to recover any charges from you the which are older than 12 months - from the date that they issue you with a correct bill.

 

 


 

 

I see that in issue four, the ombudsman refers to the amount of energy that has been attributed to you to be equivalent to the energy normally used by 21 homes per year. Presumably that is a point which you made to them. It's very nice – and very funny.😄

 

I see that the ombudsman is referring to 18 complaints made by you! A phenomenal number.

How many of these were made against Shell? If all of these complaints can be supported by evidence then we have a very substantial case for inaccurate data processing here.

Of course they are under contract to get things right but the problem is that damages in contract are awarded on the basis of your actual loss which probably may not be very much when it's all sorted out. You are looking for an additional award.

Bringing a claim under the data protection act allows you to seek damages for distress and distress damages can be measured partly by reference to actual losses but also can be measured by what kind of distress a reasonable person would suffer in the circumstances.

 

I see the on page 4 of the ombudsman's report that there is a reference to background context. If there is some context which has been documented in Shell's records and which has not been disclosed to you then this is certainly good evidence of incomplete disclosure

 

The ombudsman's report is clearly excellent evidence of a substantial amount of inaccurate data processing – and that's even without the full disclosure that you are looking for.

I certainly don't think there's any point in accepting these awards that I do think that it's worth biding your time and seeing how it plays out in respect of the claim is issued and the eventual disclosure.

At some point we will have to ask you to list out all of the losses or detriment that you have suffered over the period of time including the effect of it all on you or your family and then we can eventually start discussing the basis of a claim for inaccurate data processing and a reasonable amount of compensation. We haven't really understood what detriment you have suffered but at the moment I'm sure that £600 is an easy figure that there is still a lot more to learn about it all.

You obviously made a very competent complaint to the ombudsman.

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They have already corrected the bills so back billing will not take effect. However I am awaiting next months bill to see if they will apply the new AQ as they indicated they would.

 

That's a very interesting point you make regarding Shell Energy awaiting my response to the revised Ombudsman decision. I wonder if they are aware that it has been made, but am almost entirely convinced at this point that they act in unison with the Ombudsman and so would not be suprised if this was case.

 

It appears to me that some sort of silly game is played where companies get advanced notice of impending remedy action and therefore take the action prior to the decision in order to appear reasonable, I have experienced this before with the Energy Ombudsman and previous energy suppliers.

 

Thank you I am familiar with the Virgin case and follow it with interest.

All of the 18 complaints were brought against Shell Energy, 17 of them are simply a repeat of the same case in a few variations with additional detail regarding the inaccurate billing of my acount. The Energy Ombudsman refused to investigate any of them and simply closed them until I submitted a complaint to Ombudsman Services regarding their complaint handling and unsuprisingly they suddenly decided it was a complaint they could investigate. Ombudsman services offered me £75 to settle the matter regarding their poor levels of service which I declined.

 

The Ombudsman's mismanagement of my complaint has been referred to the IA for review. I was careful not to settle with the Ombudsman as I disagreed with their decision entirely.

Edited by Intrepid
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It is now becoming clear as I re-read the report that the Ombudsman has been in contact with Shell Energy regarding my complaint.

 

This is interesting as the Ombudsman failed to disclose in their response to the SAR I sent them any correspondence between themselves and Shell Energy.

 

I have sent the Ombudsman a letter before claim regarding their incomplete disclosure and submitted a complaint to the ICO regarding their response.

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Okay. Could we see your letter of claim out of curiosity?
How much are you proposing to claim from them?
 

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I propose to claim for £100, however this is not much in addition to their offer to settle the mishandling of my complaint for £75.

 

At this point I will at least wait for the review of case handling by the IA.

 

A full disclosure was considerd very important following their flawed investigation and decision, however now that they have issued a new decision and seem to agree that Shell Energy inaccurately billed by account the value of the full disclosure may have been reduced somewhat.

EO - Incomplete Disclosure LBC Redacted.pdf

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Thank you. We shall follow this with interest. It's the first time in the 16 years of this forum that somebody has started a claim against ombudsman – well done.

I do think that a properly couched letter of claim should have been rather clearer about the deadline and the consequences – but I suppose it will do.

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Time is moving on and I would be grateful for any thoughts on planning the next steps.

 

The claim for incomplete disclosure was deemed issued 24th Aug. A 5 day grace period + 14 days as instructed on the claim form means a response must have been received no later than 12th Sep.

 

Shell Energy have gone very quiet and in anticipation of not receiving a response I am considering my next actions should they fail to respond to the claim.
 

1. Write a letter indicating as a gesture of good will that I am giving Shell Energy an additional 30 days to provide a complete disclosure following which a further claim will be issued. This will be in reference to the date set by the orginal SAR that requests data up until approximately mid July. (I am considering how much guidance I should provide regarding the missing data if I decide to issue such a letter, as so far they maintain their position that they have provided a full disclosure).

 

or

 

2. Issue a new SAR thus setting a new date for compliance that will encapsulate all the addtional data exchanged and received since the original request. I will also make it clear that I wish to receive any data regarding correspondence with the Ombudsman through their Case Management System or Direct Messaging System. This is likely to result in a similar incomplete disclosure that does not disclose in sufficient detail how the meter readings provided were processed to bill the account.

 


I will of course submit for default judgement if I do not receive a response and instruct baliffs as required should no payment be forthcoming.

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Do nothing but apply for judgement at the first available opportunity and then instruct bailiffs immediately

We will suggest what to do once we know what their reaction is to the enforcement.

 

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Shell Energy have re-affirmed their stance that a debt is owed on the account and debt collections procedures will continue.

 

While there is a debt outstanding on the account there are some notable points which I believe require review.

 

Within the incomplete disclosure there is data received that shows Shell Energy deliberately set a customers direct debit in order to charge a customer 128% of that estimated to be owed by contract completion. I.e. if Shell Energy estimate a customer will owe £1200 over 1 year they will set the direct debit to £112 per month to collect a total of £1344.

 

However it appears if the account falls at any time below the account balance during the contract then Shell Energy feel this is sufficient grounds to instruct their debt collectors.

 

I believe this perhaps indicates the contract terms are unfair. If Shell Energy feel it is appropriate to over bill customers by 28% surely the same degree of lattitude can be afforded to their customers.

 

In summary Shell Energy appear quite content to generate interest free loans from their customers however when it comes to equal an opposite treatment they delight in putting an account into collections and marking credit files etc etc.

 

Secondly our contract runs until January 2022, I am of the oppinion that there is no cause for action until the contract has been provided in full and have indicated that any agreed outstanding account balance will be cleared by contract completion. Launching into action prior to contract completion would be in my oppinion premature however they may be legally entitled.

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The Ombudsman has failed entirely to respond to the LBC they received.

 

Proposed particulars of claim:

Quote

 

1.As a user of the Energy Ombudsman service I have had several complaints reviewed using their service.

 

2.On 20th July 2021 a Subject Access Request was submitted to the defendant pursuant to the Data Protection Act 2018. The defendant made a partial disclose of data, which upon review it was incomplete.

 

3.By failing to make a full disclosure as per the Subject Access Request the defendant has breached their statutory duty and continues to do so. The defendant’s breach of their statutory duty and my inability to access my personal data in full has caused me distress.

 

4.The claimant seeks damages for distress £150.

 

 

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I suggested some edits above. Also I think £150 too much. I think a judge would really consider that you are making a money grab and this could discredit your whole position.

You should realise that although most companies will try to put their hands up, the ombudsman is most unlikely to and they will consider that they really have to make an example and show that they won't be subject to these kinds of demands and these kinds of court actions.

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Standard practice with energy suppliers to have accounts in credit, by setting direct debits amounts to collect more than the estimated annual usage. 

 

The excuse is that the accounts in credit allow for higher than anticipated use due to say colder than average winter weather.

 

 

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Standard practice does not mean fair practice, the account has already been operated through the winter period so they will have to invent another excuse.

 

Noted BF I will consider reducing the amount. The claim against the Ombudsman is riskier however they have ignored the LBC entirely and clearly do not wish to declare in writing that they have not discussed my account with Shell Energy.

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