ENERGY BILLS

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
Last August I sold mum's house, but I've had a series of problems with her energy suppliers. Southern Electric wrote to her a while ago to say she had an overpayment of over £1800, but "not to worry, they were carrying it forward"!!! Quite by chance, I've just discovered information about energy suppliers that others might be interested. Firstly, there is a "Code of Practice for Accurate Bills" and secondly, There is "The Energy UK Safety Net". Vulnerable customers, including pensioners, should be identified and recorded. Now I have just the ammunition I need to get the bills sorted out. So much didn't happen properly in mum's case.
Bowlingbun

£1,800 is a serious overpayment. Regardless of what power company personal say you have the right to demand that back in the form of a cheque rebate.
What the PC’s usually do is state that they will reduce your DD (if you pay by DD) as if you have no choice in the matter!
That can be a bad mistake to agree with, as follows.

I managed to half my pensioner neighbour’s water rate bill, and get this backdated so she ended up with a £150 rebate.
Instead of paying £60per month, she was paying £30 per month. However, United Utilities instead of issuing her a £150 cheque, decided to reduce her DD from £30 pm to £16 pm without even asking her, they just did it.

My neighbour was ecstatic, until I pointed out that she’d get used to only paying £16 pm. What happens in a years’ time, when that DD would then double again? (plus any price increases).
Wouldn’t it be far better if she paid the £30 pm DD (already half what it was) and had £150 in her back pocket, where it belonged to spend as she saw fit, rather than UU’s?

She agreed with me, so we then rang UU, she gave them permission for me to speak on her behalf. I, politely, but firmly, gave them merry hell, and insisted that they re-instate the £30 pm DD, and issue a £150 rebate cheque instead.

Two weeks later a cheque for £150 turned up, and my elderly neighbour has been happily paying £30 pm via DD for her water rates. More importantly, when her new bill appears in March, she won’t be expected to jump from £16 to £30+ pm on a state pension.

I’d much rather that £150 was in her hands than theirs. And it was :side:
I've no idea what she spent it on.... but that was her money to spend, not UU's .
Plus, she won't be getting into debt, as she's already used to paying £30 pm.... So, UP Your's UU!

The same applies to the power companies :evil:
I have been with british gas for years and by the sound of things I seem to have been lucky, Each time I have over paid I have got a cheque through the post automatically :)
As you mentioned -I rather have a cheque than reduce my monthly dd payment . You would get so used to having a littlemore to spend on yourself . The dd increase etc the following year ,that can be quite a shock :shock:
The above is precisely the reason I stick with paying quarterly bills for electricity/gas already used. Even so, they try and get away with 'estimated bills' because they usually estimate more than I've used (!) (not always, to be fair). My electricity company is quite good about me phoning in the actual usage, then telling me to wait for a corrected bill - though this last time they sent me a corrected bill that was the same as the estimated! I phoned, and they said 'oh, it's because your actual is less so the computer couldn't cope' (!!!!!) - but, yes, manually she altered the amount, and I got the correct bill for the actual usage.

BG however, blithely tell me that they only send an amended bill if the actual usage is more than the estimated - otherwise they 'amend' in the next bill. I took them up on it and got VERY cross, and wrote etc etc, and they finally sent me a new bill for the actual amount used.

Apparently, the underlying problem with the utilities companies, according to You and Yours on Radio 4, is that the companies are both producers and retailers of gas/electricity - so they never pass on reductions in wholesale prices! The government has to separate out supply and retail, and then there will (finally!) be real competition in the market place.

Meantime, consumers continue to get screwed.....
British Gas refused to speak to me at all, and didn't make any records of a series of conversations I had with them, because I wasn't mum. Even when I explained she was in hospital gravely ill, it made no difference. Then she moved to a nursing home with no phones in the rooms, they still wouldn't speak to me. Then when I told them the house was sold, but the account was wrong, they gave mum's account details to a solicitor and whacked on another £40 because "their letters had been ignored". I've had to prioritise a lot of things this autumn, especially with having M as a caree too. I'm now going to make a formal complaint to Ofgem with a long list of failures with regard to British Gas and Southern Electricity. When I asked them for the £1800 back initially, they said mum's meter had to be changed first, then they couldn't give me the old meter readings, or the new meter readings, and couldn't tell me where the £1800 had disappeared to as an "adjustment" but it certainly never reached me and mum. They offered me £100 as compensation!!! Unfortunately for them, I can write really brilliant complaint letters. My next 2 week holiday in Crete will cost about £1300. That's all going to be paid for by compensation from the Halifax who claimed my late brother's secured loans were secured on my house, not his, simply because I had Power of Attorney for him!!!
I had quite a lot of trouble SSE until I had a very lengthy conversation whereby I finally got permission for me to deal with Dad's account recorded forever (hopefully) on their syste). I had to put Dad on the phone (deaf as a post) then listen to the man myself and below his question back to Dad and get Dad to speak up so man could hear his answers- it all got very silly but I got there in the end.
The energy regulator rules say that companies should identify their pensioner and disabled customers. The Equality Act says that these companies have a duty to make reasonable adjustments (and their website details what that means in practice) so what you were made to do was actually unfair and discriminatory. What really hacks me off is that I've been trying to do the right thing and the companies have made it impossible!
A word of warning, BB.

The pc’s are clinging on to rightful rebates like limpets high on super glue. DO NOT threaten them with the Ombudsman because they want you to do that, even if they are guaranteed to lose. The waiting list is so high for cases to be heard, this then means they can cling on to your money for possibly months more.

Far better to circumnavigate the Ombudsman, and get your MP involved instead.
If you have POA with your mother, make sure that you provide the paperwork to prove this. If not, then a simple letter, signed by your mum, stating that she gives you permission to act on her behalf will satisfy your MP.

I’ve done this three times now; my MP must be getting sick of me! But each time, within two weeks, I’ve had results when the pc’s ignored my letters for months. The fact that they had ignored me for months is the proof I plonked down in front of my MP.

“What are you going to do about it?”

My fave case was a tenant receiving a £3,300 rebate two weeks later from Scottish Power… thank you, Louise Elleman (did I spell that right?)

ALWAYS leave a paper trail; that is your proof… stuff phone calls! Emails, letters (with proof of posting) ANYTHING but bloody phone calls…. Unless you can record them (like they do), and even then…..
Thanks for that. Might change tactics. They have sent me enough in writing for what I need.
Go for it :whistle:

You have nothing to lose :S