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Shell Energy - Inaccurate data processing


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Posted (edited)

1. On 1st November 2020 I switched to Shell Energy for supply of electricity and gas on a dual fuel tarrif.

 

2. The initial opening reading was incorrect by an order of magnitude at 9729, Shell Energy were provided with the corrent opening reading of 1060. Shell Energy were only willing to accept the reading on the proviso a second reading was provided at least 7 days after the intial reading. This was provided on 21st November 2020, a reading of 1080.

 

3. Despite being in reciept of this information Shell Energy failed to take corrective action on my account. This resulted in bills being applied to my account for approximately £800 per month. Only after a complaint was raised with the Energy Ombudsman did Shell Energy finally correct the opening reading and adjusted the account balance by 24th Feburary 2021.

 

4. Despite being in receipt of the data I provided, Shell Energy did not amend the estimated billing of my account. This resulted again in large bills being applied to my account for approximately £500 per month.

5. As a result of using inaccurate data on 17th March 2021 Shell Energy increased the direct debit on my account from £85 a month to £436. I cancelled the direct debit as a result and this triggered Shell Energy's debt collection process.

 

6. A compaint was made to the Energy Ombudsman regarding the inaccurate billing which was initially rejected, then accepted and ruled in Shell Energy's favour that meter readings should have been provided and finally the Energy Ombudsman conceded that Shell Energy had failed to use the data they had received to accurately bill my account.

7. Shell Energy again adjusted the account balance on 6th August 2021 but have failed to correct the additional costs I have incurred as a result of having to cancel the direct debit.

8. Shell Energy received a SAR on 18th April 2021. Shell Energy failed to disclose important data regarding the meter readings used to bill my account until the intervention of the ICO. This data was finally disclosed 7 months and 18 days after the statutory deadline.

Attached below is the record of meter readings showing the invalid data that was continually used to bill my account. Important - the readings assigned to line 02/12/2020 and 24/02/2021 are missing a 1 and should read 10455 and 11413 respectively. Incredibly this is further evidence that Shell Energy's data processing is in disarray.

In addition despite the Status having been updated to "Invalid" presumably up until the Energy Ombudsman decision and Shell Energy's corective action they read "Billed" - as I received bills with these grossly inaccurate readings.

 

Also attached in the PDF is the response to my complaint from the ICO to both myself and the letter sent to Shell Energy - The important part is that the ICO's decision was "There is more work for the organisation to do".

@BankFodder Thank you for taking the time to review this.

 

combinepdf.pdf

Edited by Intrepid
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The ICO letter says that there was a checklist but you haven't attached that. Did they give you a copy?

Has Shell complied with the ICO requirements?

Please can you tell us something about your losses.

What actual losses have you suffered – if any?

How much time has this taken you to resolve in terms of hours which you have input into it?

Can you tell us something about the impact this has had on you and maybe on members of your family?

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The checklist was not included. I have written to the ICO requesting a copy.

 

Shell Energy have provided a written letter stating why they failed to comply, stating it was human error. There are two points here, within their letter (attached below) they try to intimate that they have been compliant but then proceed to say that the delay was human error.

 

Either they didn't have to send the data and they were compliant or they did have to send the data and they were not compliant. I think the fact they have now sent the data and stated they did not do so due to human error is close enough to admitting they were not compliant, otherwise why not decline to provide it as before and why only provide it when the ICO are involved?

The losses suffered are a result of increased standing charges being applied to the account approximately a 100% increase since the direct debit was cancelled.

 

Actual losses at the moment are zero as I have not paid the full account balance. This is done so in the knowledge that Shell Energy's refund department is in disarray and I have no faith I will receive any refund for the losses incurred.

 

I estimate that so far finding a resolution has required approximately 100 hours. Clearly I will have to produce an itimised account for my time which I expect I will do based on a nominal amount of time for each time I have had to correspond with Shell Energy.

 

The impact has been very distressing on both myself and my family. Receiving grossly inaccurate bills is distressing in and of itself but to be faced with an organisation that refuses to take action and only then when third parties such as the Energy Ombudsman or the ICO intervene means my family have been deprived of my presence while I have had to dedicate significant time to the issue.

Where this is likely leading is I will not pay the increased standing charges. This will leave a disputed account balance and Shell Energy will or perhaps have already made entries or submissions to various credit agencies.

The principal here is that any amount oustanding at the end of the contract will be a result of their unlawful action and I will pursue them to have it corrected if necessary. However it is important to get everything done in order. When it is firmly estabished and perhaps ruled on by a judge that Shell Energy have acted ulawfully they will have to make the necessary corrections to credit agencies etc.

SE - IC-XXXX Response - Redacted.pdf

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Are there any judgements against you? Have you checked your credit file?

If there are charges with you haven't paid then presumably shall say that you are in debt to them. By how much?

 

And although you have probably told us, how long has this been going on?

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Posted (edited)

No judgements against me that I am aware of and it is safe to presume that there are none. I have not yet checked my credit file and intended to do so after this claim is concluded.

 

The account balance is currently negative £298.81. The contract completes at the end of this month and I intend to make the account whole minus the increased standing charges when the final reading and balance have been confirmed.

Shell Energy have been mismanaging the account essentially from the day the account was opened 1st November 2020.

 

One could say they this particular issue has continued since Shell Energy were in receipt of the second meter reading confirming my useage on 21st November 2020. Or it could be in reference to when it became necessary to cancel the direct debit following their propsed increase of 519% on 17th March 2021. Put simply in excess of one year.

Shell Energy indicated that they "defaulted" my account on 11th November 2021.

Edited by Intrepid
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Ok. You need to check your credit file although it will probably be clear but you never know.

We need a schedule of losses and also a schedule of time spent but keep it reasonably modest because we don't want to make it look as if you are simply making a money grab.

 

There is also at least the issue of a breach of contract but we can leave that later and deal with the statutory breaches first.

 

They have referred to a defaulted account in their subject access request disclosure but have they not explained what that is or disclosed the default marker?

 

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I will prepare a schedule of losses - it will be a pre-estimate based on the date the contract ends which is 31st January 2022.

 

I have no reference to an account default in their disclosure.


The only reference I have to the account default is via a text message received on 11th November 2021. One would have thought that for such an issue Shell Energy would perhaps write a letter or at least an e-mail but instead they chose to send 20 text messages to my personal mobile which is subject to separate claim for harassment.

No explanation was provided by Shell Energy - although it is known to be the result of me witholding payment for one month after they received duplicated payments as a result of their on-going payment system errors. This is somewhat a separate issue but I suppose it would not have come about if my account was not incorrecty and without my agreement considerd by Shell Energy to be on a payment plan.

 

The only way for me to confirm whether any default marker exists would be to check the credit file. No such disclosure or confirmation has been made by Shell Energy as to whether a marker has been entered. My only reference is their series of text messages.

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Have they included the text messages in the statutory disclosure?

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Okay, you could either send them another SAR to try and get evidence of these texts and the default. I think it would be useful – or you could simply get going and send them a letter of claim.

According to what I understand, they may have breached the DPA in three respects – failure to disclose on time, incomplete disclosure and inaccurate data processing.

I think a more detailed explanation of the impact that this has had on you and your family would be very useful. You will have to do that at some time or other and so we might as well get it sorted out now

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Posted (edited)

There is currently an on-going claim for their incomplete disclosure.

So I understand I would have to bring a claim only for inaccurate data processing.

I would prefer to bring the action after I have settled the account at the end of the month. While they will still make the same noises about the debt being genuine when it proceeds to court there will no back and forth about the legitimacy of what debt is outstanding. It will simply be a matter of the increased standing charges.

I will send another SAR, receving the text messages will be useful for the claim for harassment in any case. Presumably if they do not disclosure that my account is defaulted then it has not - if I later check the file and find that it is then they have again failed to make a complete disclosure.

 

I will work on the detailed impact statement.

Edited by Intrepid
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Yes you're right. There is a claim already in progress and if you make another claim now for inaccurate data processing, there is a possibility that they will be joined.

Maybe better to sort one out – benefit from the experience but also see what you find out – and then begin the second claim separately.

If the account turns out not to be defaulted then of course you have to ask why the text message said it was.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shell Energy have acknowledged receipt of the SAR. The one month timeline is running. I will be interested to see if they decide to properly disclosure meter reading data in this disclosure. If they do this may undermine their original claim that copies of customer bills constitutes an acceptable form of disclosure, a claim regarded by myself and also I believe by the ICO to be entirely bogus.

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Things are becoming more involved, Redwood Collections have been attempting to contact me for the past 4 days without leaving a message and using a different number each time. In addition I have also had an application for credit declined as a result of "information provided by credit reporting agencies".

 

The plan of action is to pay what I think is owed at the end of the contract period on 31st Jan, check the credit file and send a SAR to the company which denied the credit application to see if more can be understood.

 

I now may not be the only person directly affected by Shell Energy's inaccurate data processing. However as suggested above I wish to formally receive judgement regarding Shell Energy's incomplete disclosure. I think this will be important evidence indicating their data processing is in disarray.

There are two considerations:
1. If it really is best to wait until the incomplete disclosure case is heard this could significantly delay bringing further action.
2. On the other hand as a result of intervention by the ICO Shell Energy did finally disclose the evidence which shows their inaccurate data processing so it may be prudent to simply proceed once the steps above are complete in order not to significantly delay the action.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have reviewed the data from their latest disclosure. It is missing significant amounts of data and is incomplete.

A brief summary of the situation is that despite there being no record of the default of the account and indeed their data disclosure infact shows the opposite it appears Shell Energy have been treating the account as if it were defaulted without telling me and without keeping accurate records as to the status of the account.

 

Within the disclosure it is evidenced that after the initial dispute in March April 2021 it is likely Shell Energy sent the account to a DCA

"(systems) DCA 2021-03-24 ZNEXDCAIMP Case exported to agency ZINCWLAccount Balance £XXX.XX"


3 weeks later the case is closed and it appears the balance is marked as disputed.

"(systems) DCA 2021-04-13 ZNEXDCAEXP Case Closed by (systems) for Agency ZINCWL Balance £75.48 - Closure: CL03 - Dispute"

Despite the fact the balance has been disputed, it is an important point that had Shell Energy not been attempting to bill me in excess of £5000 per annum for energy, the account would likely never have been defaulted in the first place.

 

Unbeknownst to myself the account appears to have been left in a defaulted state as every month the following line appears next to my payments.

"(systems) Internal 2021-05-XX NODCA Payment Received. Cash To Us. Amount = XXX.XX"
"(systems) Internal 2021-06-XX NODCA Payment Received. Cash To Us. Amount = XXX.XX" etc

I was not aware the account was on a payment plan nor was any plan agreed between myself and Shell Energy.

There is no evidence within the disclosure that indicates to me that I was notified that the account was on a payment plan or likely to be defaulted or infact was defaulted until the first text message was received. It is odd that despite the text message indicating the account was on a payment plan that has defaulted, this does not match Shell Energy's records.

The service summary within their data disclosure indicates that any default of the account ended on 19/03/21. Indeed within their service summary the account is recorded as active on their discount tariff from 25/02/21 (Screenshot attached).

 

The inconsistent record keeping indicated by their service summary is certainly evidence that their data processing is in disarray.


Shell Energy has disclosed some of the text messages they sent me but have failed to disclosure all of the messages.

This leaves a slight dilemma as clearly there is another claim to answer regarding their incomplete disclosure.

However their inaccurate data processing is the significant issue, a claim for which includes a significant element of distress and I do not think a claim should be delayed for months as a result of their incomplete disclosure.

SE - Service Summary - Redacted.pdf

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have now checked my credit score in full with Experian. I have a number of accounts all of which are in good standing except the one assigned to Shell Energy.

 

As a result of checking my file I can confirm unequivocally that no CCJ has been recorded as expected.

Shell Energy have been recording missing payments on the account for a number of months. (See attached PDF). I have evidence that I have made payments to the account every month with the exception of the month following where they received two payments as a result of their payment processing issues (admitted by them in writing and refunded).

The data Shell Energy has supplied to Experian and possibly other companies that generate credit reports is wildly inaccurate and it appears despite them being informed on an almost monthly basis that the amount is in dispute they have failed to provide this information to Experian. (I am not sure if they have an obligation to mark accounts as disputed or whether it is the responsibility of the account holder to sign up and pay to access their credit file to then raise a dispute).

It is clearly written that "This account's payment history has some payment issues that may affect your score"

 

I believe that Shell Energy should not have marked the file in this way and certainly not without my agreement. I have not once received a default notice from them and BF's comments ring true that I have been sent messages saying that my account is in default when it appears this was not strictly the case.

 

Now that I am aware of the damage to my credit file I intend to bring an action promptly as it has been inferred in judgements handed down that time is of the essence when considering compensation for non-material damages such as distress and loss of reputation.

The amount is something I am trying to consider accurately, quite simply there is no leading precedent set by a court to help with this. Having simply read over a few websites offering legal services I estimate that £3000 would be appropriate due to the on-going distress they have caused as well as loss of creditor reputation.

@BankFodder would you prefer that I first draft a letter before claim or do you prefer to post one up?

Experian - Credit Report - Shell Energy - Redacted.pdf

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Proposed letter before claim.

 

Quote

Letter before claim

 

Dear Mr Kamm,

 

Account reference: XXXX

 

Following the partial disclosure of data received from Shell Energy Retail Limited, I have reviewed how your company has processed and shared my personal data.

 

You have processed my personal data inaccurately and shared this inaccurate data with third parties.

 

Your unlawful processing of my personal data is in breach of the statutory rights afforded to me under the Data Protection Act 2018.

 

Your breach has caused me distress and resulted in the loss of my reputation.

 

I invite you to respond to this letter within 14 days, after which a claim will be brought with no further reference to you.

 

Yours sincerely,

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I am seeking advice on the following particulars of claim:

 

Quote

1. The Claimant opened an account with Shell Energy on XX/XX/XX for the supply of electricity and gas.

2. The Defendant is required to process my data accurately pursuant to the Data Protection Act 2018.

3. Upon review the Defendant has processed my data inaccurately and shared this inaccurate data with third parties.

4. The Defendant's inaccurate processing of my data has detrimentally affected my ability to obtain credit and on at least one occasion the Claimant was denied credit as a result of the Defendant's breach of their statutory duty.

5. The Defendant's breach of their statutory duty and the resulting loss of my reputation has caused me distress.

6. The Claimant seeks damages for distress £3000.

7. The Defendant failed to run my account in accordance with their obligations outlined in the Standard Licensing Conditions pursuant to the Gas Act 1986.

8. The Defendant's breach of contract resulted in unnecessary charges being applied to my account.

9. The Claimant seeks damages for breach of contract £120.

10. Total Claim £3120.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Not only does MCOL have a character limit, it also has a line limit of which the lines are very short.

 

I have amended the particulars above in order to not have to serve the particulars separately.

It runs the risk of being challenged for not being fully particularised but the answer to that is that most solicitors will try this anyway and I consider it the intention of HM courts that particulars are kept consise or they would have relaxed the line and character limit.

I considered whether to reduce the claim to be under £3000 in order to reduce the court fee but ultimately decided against it.
 

Quote

1. The Claimant opened an account reference XXXXXXXX with Shell Energy on XX/XX/XX for the supply of electricity and gas.

 

2. While running the account the Defendant breached their obligations pursuant to the Data Protection Act 2018 which resulted in the loss of my reputation.

 

3. The Claimant seeks damages for distress and loss of reputation £3000.

 

4. The Defendant breached their obligations pursuant to the Gas Act 1986 and is in breach of contract.

 

5. The Claimant seeks damages for breach of contract £120.

 

6. Total Claim £3120 + costs.





 

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Claim issued.

Submitted particulars of claim are below.

 

Quote

1. The Claimant opened an account reference xxxxxxx with Shell Energy on xx/xx/xxxx for the supply of electricity and gas.

 

2. While running the account the Defendant processed my data inaccurately in breach their obligations pursuant to the Data Protection Act 2018, and which resulted in the loss of my reputation.

 

3. The Claimant seeks damages for distress and loss of reputation £2850.

 

4. The Defendant breached their obligations pursuant to the Gas Act 1986 and is in breach of contract.

 

5. The Claimant seeks damages for breach of contract £103.63.

 

6. Total Claim £2953.63 + costs.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wrote to Experian to apply a notice of correction.

It appears they ignored the notice of correction and simply sent this reply from customer services.

 

Quote

Thanks for contacting Experian.

*Shell Energy (started on xx/xx/xxxx)

Although we hold details about your Shell Energy account on your Experian Credit Report, the information actually comes from Shell Energy so the best way to resolve any queries you may have about the account is to contact them directly.

It will help them if you include a copy of the account entry from your report so they can see exactly what your query relates to.

*General Information

Just to let you know, if you’re looking for credit, we have a great Comparison Service which is free to use. This allows you to enter the type of credit you’re looking for, as well as the terms you need, to match you to suitable lenders. Using this service will have no impact on your Experian Credit Score, unless you choose to go ahead with the application to the lender. 

If you’d like to take advantage of this service, please visit Experian Comparison Services and sign in to start comparing offers. I hope that this helps.
 
If you have any more questions, please let me know or visit our website at https://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/help-discover/ where you can find lots of useful information.

Don’t forget that you can compare credit cards, loans and mortgages at www.experian.co.uk. We’ll tell you what offers you can apply for with confidence, without affecting your Experian Credit Score.

Kind regards,

Mohammed
Customer Support Centre
Experian

 

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Experian refused to add the notice of correction as written claiming it is defamatory.

 

Quote

Thanks for getting back to us.

It looks like your statement is defaming. If you'd still like there to be a dispute statement on this information, I can add the following:

"The consumer has disputed the accuracy of this entry. Given that this
data is disputed, please take care if making an assessment of any kind that
may include this data."

Let me know if you’re happy with the standard dispute statement and then I’ll get it added for you.

If you have any more questions, please let me know or visit our website at https://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/help-discover/ where you can find lots of useful information.

Don’t forget that you can compare credit cards, loans and mortgages at www.experian.co.uk. We’ll tell you what offers you can apply for with confidence, without affecting your Experian Credit Score.

Kind regards,

Mohammed
Customer Support Centre
Experian

 

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My reply below seemed to have the desired effect.
 

Quote

Dear Mr Cassin,

 

Account reference xxxx.

 

Everything I have written in the notice of correction I have provided to you is true and can be evidenced. Please explain which part of the notice I have provided that you deem to be defamatory.

 

In the absence of an explanation, I look forward to receiving confirmation that the notice of correction has been applied by 12th April 2022.


You have been informed of the inaccuracy of the data you are publishing about me and that is defaming my reputation. You seem to take little interest in this but are quite happy to go-along with publishing the inaccurate and defamatory data provided to you by Shell Energy Retail Limited ("Shell Energy").

 

You are hereby instructed to Cease and Desist processing all my personal data provided to you by Shell Energy due to its inaccuracy and defamatory nature under Article 16, 18 and 21 of UK GDPR.

 

If you continue to process the data referred to in disregard of this lawful instruction I shall make an immediate complaint to the ICO and this may lead to court action.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Reply from Experian.

 

Quote

Thanks for getting back to us.

I’m happy to confirm I’ve now added the following statement and it should appear on your report in the next seven days.

"Shell Energy Retail Limited are in breach of contract pursuant to the Gas Act 1986 and have failed to meet their obligations pursuant to the Data Protection Act 2018. Shell Energy Retail Limited has processed my data inaccurately, resulting in them making incorrect entries on this credit file and are subject to litigation as a result."

The statement on your report won’t affect your credit score, but may impact how quickly lenders process your application for borrowing as it will take extra time to read and digest it.

Under current legislation, lenders are legally obliged to read a Notice of Dispute when looking at a potential borrower’s credit report. However, there’s no obligation for them to take this into account when deciding whether to offer you credit as this will depend on the lending criteria.

If you have any more questions, please let me know or visit our website at https://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/help-discover/ where you can find lots of useful information.

Don’t forget that you can compare credit cards, loans and mortgages at www.experian.co.uk. We’ll tell you what offers you can apply for with confidence, without affecting your Experian Credit Score.

Kind regards,

Mohammed
Customer Support Centre
Experian

 

 

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Posted (edited)

It appears Experian had no intention of making good on their written commitment outlined above.

 

The following e-mail was received after they agreed to apply the notice of correction.

 

Quote

Thanks for getting in touch. 

It looks like your statement is defamatory  
so I’ve changed it slightly to read as:

I have drafted the following statement, please review and let me know if you are happy to add this:

I, xxxx would like to explain the circumstances that led to the late markers on my utility account on my credit report, I believe there was a breach of contract and believe the data has been processed inaccurately, I believe this is a litigation and would like this to be taken into consideration when viewing my credit report for application purposes.  

Let me know if you’re happy with my changes and then I’ll get it added for you. Of course, you can also re-draft the statement yourself if you prefer and I’ll be happy to take a look at your new version.

If you want to add your original statement without any changes, then I can send it to the Information Commissioner to make a ruling.

Let me know what you decide, and I’ll take it from there.

If you have any more questions, please let me know or visit our website at https://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/help-discover/ where you can find lots of useful information.

Don’t forget that you can compare credit cards, loans and mortgages at www.experian.co.uk. We’ll tell you what offers you can apply for with confidence, without affecting your Experian Credit Score.

Kind regards,

Ryan
Customer Support Centre
Experian

 

Edited by Intrepid
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