Marv\'s Blog

British Gas are trying to disconnect me. | January 18, 2006

And they wonder why I’m changing suppliers.

First they send me a notice when I’m still in the process of moving that I owe them money. Which I don’t as it covers a period where I hadn’t taken over the tenancy. I told them I hadn’t taken control of the tenancy till after then so I wasn’t liable, they were fine with it. I only had to send them the tenancy agreement.

I forgot.

I’ve got a perfectly good reason for forgetting that I’ll not get into, but they sent a second notice. Obviously having more time to think sanely, I got them to check their records and it turned out I didn’t have to pay cos the last reading the previous tenant gave them matches the reading they took when the meter was taken out. So they said I didn’t have to pay.

They forgot.

I just received a letter sent 6 days ago that they going to disconnect my gas if I don’t pay.

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6 Comments »

  1. I am experiencing the same problem as I type this.
    Although I have spoken to a British Gas representative over the phone over a week ago and explained that I had taken over a tenancy in Jan 2006, they still persist in sending me threats to cut off the gas supply in response to a bill owed to them from Nov 2005. I have even paid them £50 without even having received a bill in my name. I have now received cut off threats where they are charging me for the letter (latest dated 25.04.06). When you try to phone them, this can mean you hanging on for over 10 minutes, as I have done this morning with no success and at considerable expense. Are they in cahoots with B.T. ?

    Comment by Richard Curum — May 2, 2006 @ 9:48 am

  2. The trick to dealing with them is as thus:

    When a tenant leaves, the gas is disconnected. British Gas will have evidence of this, so all you have to do is get them to compare the records of when it was disconnected with when it was connected, and see who was living there at the time.

    They also refund phone bill costs I believe.

    Comment by SignpostMarv — May 5, 2006 @ 7:13 pm

  3. Our problem is slightly different. My mother has paid her gas bill but was sent a dupicate bill a few days later. She has tried over and over to talk to them – 15-20 minutes being average waiting time. She even tried phoning as soon as call centre opened (still 15 mins). Today she received a letter saying they could gain access to her property (and the police may be in attendance, i assume in order to cut her off,) she called me as she has also gone on holiday today. I have no idea what to do – can they break into her house while she is not their? – She has paid the bill – where do we go next?

    Comment by s thorpe — July 5, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

  4. I recieved a similar letter.

    In preparation, I would suggest getting a copy of the bank statement saying the money was debited, and the phone number of the bank manager for your mother’s accout- just in case they’re ignorant enough to actually try and disconnect the gas. This is unlikely, although considering one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing (as was my experience) you can’t take any chances.

    If the relevant department believes that the bill has not been paid, I do believe they have the right to enter the premises.

    With regards to getting the situation resolved. If possible, record the phone call in some way- simplest way is to hold a dictaphone up to the ear piece- there’s other more technical ways, but you can also try calling them through a VoIP application like Skype so you can record the call on the computer. If you do decide to record the call, you will have to let them know you’re recording, just like they let you know.

    You’ll need to contact the billing department, and force them to check the records. If whoever picks up the phone call doesn’t seem to understand the situation, ask to speak to a manager.

    The problem I had was that it was on their records that someone at this address ran up debt. What they didn’t check was that the gas had already been disconnected prior to my moving in because that someone had vacated the tenancy. Thus rendering any debt with regards to any future tenant irrelevant.

    Once I had forced them to check THEIR records to see that the gas had been disconnected, and the debt was for a completely different person at the same address, I also forced them to send out a letter to that effect. You might also have some luck getting them to refund the phone calls, although I do believe the regulatory authority for the utility companies says they only have to pay up to £20.

    Be patient on the phone, refrain from swearing, but if you need to let them know how frustrated you are, just tell them in a calm manner that the situation is extremely stressful etc etc. Swearing can lead to some prudish, insensitive idiot on the other end of the line hanging up. While on one hand, call center people are paid to deal with customer problems, since they aren’t paid to take abuse, you can’t predict how they’d react.

    Summary:

    Get the documents to prove that the gas bill has been paid, and the phone number for the bank manager. Should the worst come to the worst because of some idiot not checking records properly, you’ll need proof the bill has been paid to prevent the police from gaining entry to the residence.

    Ring up the billing department and get them to check their records. Make them send out a letter saying the bill has been paid, and that nobody will be coming to disconnect your mother’s supply. Make copies upon reciept of said letter. Try and get a copy of the phone call if possible, making sure to inform them you are recording the call if you do (that includes telling people if you get transfered from one person to the other).

    Once the situation with the bill has been resolved, attempt to get refunds for the telephone calls you’ve had to make to get the situation resolved. You’re only calling because of their mistake after all. If they insist on seeing a copy of the telephone bill, send in a photocopy/scan, and send it by Recorded delivery, or Special Next/Same Day. Also get them to refund the cost of postage. You want a record that the telephone bill was recieved by them in case they try not to refund it. I tried getting emails sent to them, but they couldn’t give me one.

    If, for what ever reason, the situation can’t be resolved over the phone, check with Consumer Direct, and/or get the number for your local police station (not emergency services), or go in person to speak to someone, taking the bank statement and letters from the gas company etc, explain the situation. It is highly unlikely that you’ll need to go this far, but I would believe that the police would prefer the problem to be nipped in the bud rather than have their time wasted by the gas company.

    Finally, consider switching to a different supplier.

    Comment by SignpostMarv — July 6, 2006 @ 10:32 am

  5. British Gas have a new billing system. In May I sent back two bills for two properties I own, giving the meter readings and asking them to send them to my home address as they had always been. The new system does not seem to understand this. Since May I have received countless bills, reminders and notices of disconnection all sent to the supply address and not the billing address. After having no success in getting this put right I contact Energywatch they took on the case. I have received two letters from different departments of British Gas saying that the error is now corrected and I have received several phone calls saying the same. We are now in August and the situation is still ongoing. On Friday I received a letter at one of the supply addresses saying that the police would be coming with a warrant to enter the premises it did not say when they would come but prior to this the week before I had a letter saying that they would disconnect on the 21st August. Again I have contacted Energywatch and I am in the throws of seeking advice from a solicitor. I feel that I am being harrassed by British Gas, that I am helpless to resolve the matter. There is no door I can go and knock on and say get this sorted, only the telephone, which I now have a direct line to the complaints dept. but it is still doing me no good. HELP !!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by lynn holland — August 6, 2006 @ 11:37 pm

  6. Goto the solicitor, make copies of everything, including phone calls if possible (i think you have to tell them you’re recording the call as soon as they pick up), go through the process that Energy Watch & your solicitor recommends.

    Then go to one of the Price Comparison Services and switch to a different supplier. Unless for some reason British Gas is the cheapest for you.

    Comment by SignpostMarv — August 7, 2006 @ 3:34 am


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