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Not to pay gas bill

(12 Posts)
hopsalong Wed 05-Aug-15 22:42:51

Genuinely unsure what to do. Paid gas and electric bill for two years by direct debit at our old (rented) flat, which we left in Jan when we bought a house. Over time the gas usage naturally went down because we were working longer hours and became more economical while saving up deposit wearing woolly jumpers all year round. So wasn't surprised to get a hefty amount back when I closed the account after providing a final metre reading: last bill said I was in credit for about £300, and this was repaid into my account by direct debit in Jan.

Now at new house paying bills with EDF so no further contact with a British Gas until two weeks ago when they sent me a 'final bill' for £450! Called up to investigate and they said I should have noticed I had hardly been paying anything for gas in last three months and was incorrectly charged. I now can't remember how much I paid for gas and how much for electricity and can't log in to account because closed online. Have also had a baby since then and can't find the old paper bills, which I am not even sure I kept during move. Would pay up with some grumbling and difficulty (don't have £450 lying around) if I felt I genuinely owed money but am not sure. I provided meter readings, so how can original amount be wrong? If it is, am I liable? Pissed off by whole thing and especially by suggestion on phone yesterday that I should sign up for a payment plan/ pay off in chunks, as if I am somehow delinquent. Shouldn't they at least a) justify clearly what mistake was made and b) give reasonable period for me to make payment rather than demanding now? Oh, should say I have had about five hassling phone calls in last two weeks since bill issued.

DoJo Wed 05-Aug-15 22:57:50

Can't you just ask them for proof that you owe this amount? Get them to send you the bills in question which should show the meter readings you provided and provide information about when the gas was used. I would also ask for access to your online account again if possible or for a full set of bills for a year so that you can ascertain how realistic any estimates they have made are.
Unfortunately, I don't think simply not paying is a sensible option - if you do owe the money, then it could damage your credit rating to bury your head in the sand about it if they decide to pursue you more vigorously, but if you engage with them and get them to definitively prove to you that the money is owed, then hopefully that will give you enough time to save up a little and be somewhat less galling.

ProvisionallyAnxious Wed 05-Aug-15 23:13:22

Ugh, EDF are useless at sending out final bills many, many months after you've moved from a property with them. It may have been that your previous bills (and refund) were estimated and that they've now processed your final meter reading etc. I had a similar thing a few years back and had a painful bill to pay, sent what seemed like an inappropriate length of time after I moved out!

Charlesroi Wed 05-Aug-15 23:31:02

Well I wouldn't hand over £450 without some fairly searching questions, so I think it's reasonable of you to ask where this figure has come from.

Write to them(don't phone) disputing this bill, stating that you have provided meter reading throughout, that your usage was low due to you being economical and invite them to prove they haven't made a cock up by sending you copies of the bills. Point out that it is unreasonable to demand this money 8 months later and ask them why it has taken so long to send you the final account.

They may be trying to charge you for usage after you left the property - they (all!) have form for this.

Collaborate Wed 05-Aug-15 23:51:39

Do you think they've billed you for usage since after you moved out? What date did the "last bill" you refer to cover? Did it say this was a final bill?

SchwarzwalderKirschtorte Thu 06-Aug-15 06:33:16

BG did that to me but when I demanded proof as in full meter readings/usage and amounts/when paid they suddenly decided that I owed nothing. Oddly enough it was for £450 too. This was about 7 years ago and I suspect was for a period after I had moved out of the property which when I wasn't going to roll over and pay up, they gave up. I did have all the paperwork though as I keep everything like that. Good luck - you might wish to ask on money saving expert too as that's where I found a template letter to send.

cranberryx Thu 06-Aug-15 15:27:32

We had this with southern electric when we closed the account.

Initially they refunded us 300 for the gas, we had provided metre readings on the metre our landlord had stated was ours, then after we moved for a bill for about the same as you.

Turns out the landlord had given is the wrong metre, it actually belonged to the woman downstairs. I wouldn't have minded but why refund me and then 2 days later ask for the money back?

I would ask for the bills so you can go over your metre readings and previous payments - hopefully there will be a clue as to why there is a discrepancy. Keep in contact with them, but don't just not pay. I would keep email contact if possible so you have records that the bill is 'indispute'

Also, asking advice via social media and screen shoting it can be a good way of getting your query answered fast.

Good luck!

hopsalong Thu 06-Aug-15 16:23:25

Thanks so much everyone, though rather alarming to hear that this isn't an isolated incident. I am indeed a bit worried that they are trying to charge us for usage after we left the property: we moved out a while before the landlord found new tenants and the account would have been reactivated. Very good idea to write instead of phoning -- find the phone calls quite stressful and hassling, as if I am already in the wrong for not having paid up -- even though I had no idea the (anyway dubious) amount was due. hmm

As a matter of principle… I am sure I read the right meter and gave them the correct reading when we left, so I do sort of think it's their own fault if they screwed up. It's not after all like a restaurant where a bottle of wine or a dessert might be left off the bill. You might pay the smaller bill in good faith -- but would remember if prodded that you'd had two bottles, or a tiramisu. There's really no way of knowing how much gas you used, especially as prices fluctuate. And, besides, I think it would be quite weird for a restaurant to phone up six months later and say that they had left something off the bill and could you please pay up.

There's also the issue of holding on to customers' money when they overpay on a monthly basis. I was pleased to get money back in Jan, but also bit gutted that I hadn't realised earlier and got the credit back. Shouldn't they be paying us interest?! I am new to this whole system because before this rented flat I lived in the US where billing was different and in some ways easier.

minionsrule Thu 06-Aug-15 16:49:44

OMG BG are the pits, when I moved in and tried to find out who my gas supplier were, my electricity supplier did a search and told me it was BG, she apologised.
My address was previously registered as a commercial premises so was with BG Commercial, it turns out they don't talk to the Residential dept. Despite calling them numerous times and giving all details including moving in date, meter reading etc, we received a summons about 4 years later addressed to the previous occupier. I called and discussed it again, I think they hadn't cancelled the Commercial account. Again 12 months later got a summons for previous occupier so called them again and weRnt ballistic.... heard nothing now for 2 years or so.
They are ahead in the crap utilities providers list, slightly lagging behind United Utilities.
Sorry OP no advice except put everything in writing because they appear to sort stuff out on the phone but in reality I think they are doing Sudoko or something when you speak to them as you end up having the same conversation months later.

wowfudge Thu 06-Aug-15 16:52:00

Definitely ask them for everything to back up their claim. I wonder if the landlord has tried to get out paying them in the void period and that's why they've come back to you. Did you keep proof of your tenancy end date? You might need to provide BG with a copy.

Out of interest, what's the system in the US?

LionessAtHeart Thu 06-Aug-15 17:25:51

They did this to me. I had documented the meter readings I had given them when I left. I had copies of the original final bills. I was able to quote exact times of the calls I'd made giving them those details.

It turned out the new occupants hadn't contacted them so when BG did a meter read, many months later, they had lumped it onto my final bill and reissued it!

I had to argue for well over an hour escalating the the call to higher and higher levels of management before they conceded that it was bollocks all to do with me and was down to their own failings.

returnofthehumanegg Thu 06-Aug-15 17:40:21

They can not bill you for more than 12 months previous to the bill date according to the code of practice they've signed up to. They may not acknowledge this at first but will if you insist. Google backbilling energy companies and you'll get more info. So find out what timespan this bill covers.

I had this with British gas, we were paying £80 a month and gave the final meter reading, paid the final amount and closed the account. Months later they gave is a 'final' bill for £1700. Turns out they'd not been using their own or our meter readings and the estimates were way off for years. We made a back bill complaint and the amount was reduced to around £500. Still annoying though. I wonder if there's some error with their estimate calculations and they're trying to balance the accounts.

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