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Direct debit - what is the legal position?

(26 Posts)
Jux Fri 19-Apr-13 11:28:43

We pay EDF by dd. it turns out they haven't been actioning the dd and have just sent us a bill for over 3K.

DH has spoken to them and it is clear that they just simply stopped actioning the dd. The last time they did it was June.

We have had no notification from them that they have tried but been refused; our bank has not contacted us to say they've refused it.

This is very definitely EDF's mistake.

What is our position? We simply don't have 3K+.

(We have been having a very stressful time which is probably why dh didn't notice what hadn't gone out of the account, he tends to check what has...)

Jux Fri 19-Apr-13 11:29:57

Thank you blush

CajaDeLaMemoria Fri 19-Apr-13 11:32:58

I'm unsure what you mean by your legal position.

What have EDF asked you to do? To set up the DD again?

They can't demand that you pay over 3k in a lump sum if you don't have it. But they do have the right to recover the money. If you offer a reasonable payment plan they are almost certain to accept it: and if you get your current electric from them, make sure you can afford both. Don't allow EDF to put you into any further debt.

This has been challenged through the courts a few times, but I'm not aware of any cases where the court didn't order that the bill be paid. You may be able to negotiate a reduction in costs: if you offer them a 2k lump sum, for example, they might take that and wipe the extra k off, but that's only possible if you've got savings. While it's EDFs mistake, courts usually conclude that you should have noticed that the DD wasn't being collected, so you probably won't be able to avoid paying completely.

I would complain to them, in writing, and offer however much you can afford per month to clear the debt. As long as it's reasonable, they'll accept it.

lborolass Fri 19-Apr-13 11:33:36

Hae you spoken to EDF?

Obviously you do owe the money so I'd suggest your best bet is to agree a payment plan with them, I'm sure they'll be able to spread it out for you in some way as it's been their cock up.

Legally I suppose your position is the same as someone who doesn't have a DD i.e. you have to pay it all when the bill comes. Not much help but hopefully you can sort something out with them.

Jux Fri 19-Apr-13 11:53:15

Thank you both. We weren't sure whether we would have to try to get a loan to pay it! DH will offer them something.

Annoying, as in June we were building up credit with them, and by November we would actually have paid enough to not pay them anything until about now!

It started as they were overcharging us, and then taking the money twice and it all got very confused. They are hopeless really. We were just talking about switching too! Then this bill came in....

CajaDeLaMemoria Fri 19-Apr-13 12:28:55

Yes, EDF are a bit hopeless, in my experience.

Still, they can't force you to pay it back in a lump sum, and they probably won't expect you too. If your existing DD was enough to be putting you into credit, you might just be able to reinstate that, and the 'extra' money be used to pay the debt rather than put you into credit.

They should be very nice, as it's their fault, so I wouldn't worry smile

DragonMamma Fri 19-Apr-13 16:41:08

I had this exact same problem with EDF and they didn't charge me for 9 months. It coincided with my DC2 being born so didn't notice and I was the one who noticed, as they were actually sending me letters thanking me for my payment by DD etc.

To cut a long story short, I complained and kept complaing and they reduced the bill by 50% and I agreed a very easy payment plan (an extra £40 a month). They offered me 10% off initially but I just kept going higher and higher until I got them to accept that the situation was largely their doing and they had a duty of care to notice a debt accumulating without any actual payments being made as they simply failed to draw on the DD, even though it was listed as a recipient on my online banking so was set up correctly.

Have no idea what is legal as IANAL but keep on at them

Jux Fri 19-Apr-13 22:49:10

Oh well done, DragonMamma!

DH rang them a few hours before you posted sad and he got a very helpful woman, who found us a better tariff - not that much better, but saves 150 quid a year - and she put us on to a charity which can help with certain debts. She also pointed him in the direction of a supplier who do a much, much better tariff which would save us 1K a year. For some reason dh has decided not to go there hmmconfused

Anyway, I've told him what you did, and he says if the charity pay it then case closed, but if they reject us then he'll try to get the debt reduced, like you did. So thank you.

DragonMamma Sat 20-Apr-13 14:37:12

I hope it all goes well and you get it sorted.

ThingummyBob Sat 20-Apr-13 14:44:08

£3k built up over 9 months is astronomically high OP, unless of course you live in a bloody huge mansion grin

Are you sure the bill has been calculated correctly?

How much 'credit' were you in last June?

I've only seen correct bills this high where there has been underpayment over years and its built up significantly. (Friend used to pay DD of £45 per month when their actual usage was a little over £100per month. They had estimated bills for over two years - and even then the build up was only half what yours now is!)

Jux Sat 20-Apr-13 15:03:55

Sadly it is about right.

The house is a sodding huge mansion wink quite large, but the basement is a separate flat which we rent out; there's also a shop attached to the house which we also rent out; moreover, the 3rd floor was converted to a granny flat, and we've had SIL living there for 6 months too.

When we moved here there was only one supply for elec and gas, but it fed all parts. We investigated separating the supplies, but to do just the elec would have cost over 3K, and that was just to separate the shop! We therefore include utility costs in the rents, but due to the economy etc. we haven't put the rents up in line with fuel costs as we know that the people we're renting to can't afford more atm. We'd rather keep our good tenants!

DH is going to phone again on Monday and ask if the debt can be reduced, like DragonMamma did. He's quite good at getting discounts!

kittycat68 Sat 20-Apr-13 16:28:35

sorry but i think asking a charity to pay the bill is a bit of a cheek!!! USE YOUR OWN MONEY!

Sunnywithshowers Sat 20-Apr-13 16:30:11

kitty I think the charity the OP is referring to is one that helps people to sort out their finances, not pay their bills for them.

kittycat68 Sat 20-Apr-13 17:08:08

sorry but OP says " will try to get the charity to pay it"

Jux Sat 20-Apr-13 20:29:12

I know what you mean Kitty, but I gather that that is exactly what they are there for. Mind you, that's what the EDF woman told dh. Time tell.

I don't like to take money, but it's not like I or dh are in a position to take a second job or anything like that. Please don't think that we are loaded and just trying to evade our debt. The rents we get barely cover the cost of running the house/building, and otherwise we get my DLA and dh does a few not-awfully-well-paid gigs. We can barely keep afloat atm, and as dh had managed to rearrange a couple of financial things in June, the fact that our bank balance was finally approaching the black was put down to that, and not to the fact that EDF were not taking their dd.

Crocodilehunter Sat 20-Apr-13 20:42:37

I know the bank I work for can tell you what happened to the dd whether it had been cancelled by you/edf and when it was cancelled etc they should be able to give you more information on the dd so I would contact them to see how much info you can get from them too!
It might help you build an argument against edf, if its their fault for what ever reason they should at least come up with a payment plan that is helpful for you or knock some money off (wishful thinking?)

Jux Sat 20-Apr-13 22:50:00

We know what happened. The woman told us.

In June dh saw that for the third time running they had taken the dd twice (he'd spoken to them every month it had happened and they refunded each time), so he rang them and spluttered about their incompetence for a while. The chap he spoke to then cancelled the second dd, and they adjusted the payments down as we were overpaying by 50 quid a month.

What then happened was that the chap put a 'lock' on the remaining dd, so that a dd order was generated but the lock effectively put it in the bin, so the dd order never reached the bank, never went anywhere at all.

Bills were generated which came to us, but they all said that as we had a dd we did not need to do anything, so we didn't do anything.

That's what happened.

Nuts.

RandallPinkFloyd Sat 20-Apr-13 23:09:05

I would say you're on potentially iffy ground if you immediately noticed them taking it twice but then didn't notice them not taking it for 9 months.

I know you had your reasons but I doubt they'll see it like that tbh.

It'll probably be fairly easy to wangle a bit of a discount but I would imagine a payment plan will be the best solution all round.

Hope you manage to get it sorted, they sound rubbish!

ThingummyBob Sun 21-Apr-13 08:35:03

I agree with Randal here OP I'm afraid.

It seems strange to notice an overpayment from your account - but not a nil payment. The dd must be at least £350 per month for you to have built up £3k debit when there was credit previously.

To simply 'not notice' seems unlikely (or at least that's how edf will view it I think).The energy companies are not known for their fluffy loveliness wink

Good luck with getting it sorted.... and put the rents up too!smile

Jux Sun 21-Apr-13 11:34:29

No, we can't put the rents up atm. Our tenants couldn't afford it. It's not worth losing them (we've had enough really bad tenants, some of whom have done midnights flits owing us loads).

The statements are sent to dh. He checks the balance, and if it's truly awful then he looks more closely.

The extra in the account as a result of EDF non-pay,ents, he accounted for because he had made some other changes at the same time, so he just assumed it was that making the difference.

Yes, I should be more closely involved, but he takes it as a criticism if I try (yes, I know sad).

RandallPinkFloyd Sun 21-Apr-13 11:55:38

Lets face it, we all notice when there's not enough quicker than we notice if there's too much!

Just offer a payment plan you can realistically afford and they'll accept it. It's in their interests to do whatever has the best chance of recouping their loss. They'll do anything to avoid a default so as long as you're paying something you'll be fine.

CajaDeLaMemoria Sun 21-Apr-13 12:00:16

Out of interest, did your bills show that the amount owed was growing?

RandallPinkFloyd Sun 21-Apr-13 12:03:38

Good point.

Jux Sun 21-Apr-13 12:09:52

No idea. The bills were opened by dh and went straight into his 'filing system'. I have no idea. Before we got married and I lived on my own, I scrutinised every little bit of financial info that came into my home. DH didn't. I gave up trying to keep track, when Brown gave me child tax credits and I had a bit of money of my own, instead of having to ask dh all the time. Now I just buy the food and pay school stuff. My tax credits and dla go into a separate account and I keep track of that one.

Not a good situation, I know. Idiotic.

RandallPinkFloyd Sun 21-Apr-13 12:30:16

You don't need anyone to tell you what's wrong with all that. Use this as the catalyst to change it.

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