PLEASE read this and help if you can

I have been in my flat since 2006 when i moved in i never got a electric bill so i phoned around and everyone i asked said i wasnt with them i got told not to worry and i would get a bill before i new it 5 years later ive got a bill (in between i have been phoning electric companys to find out who im with) for over £5000 and have to pay £150 a month to n power they have told me ive been with them since 2007 so why have i never had a bill they said if i dont pay they will cut me off but i explained ive never had a bill from them the lady was very supportive on the phone and said the bill needs paying and i need a meter reading the problem is i live on a ground floor flat my key meter is in a cupboard outside my flat and its locked and i havent got a key i have phoned my council and they said they cant help with a key as im supposed to havea key and ive never had one so im so scared of been cut off i need my nebuliser and other medical equitment so i dont know what to do i cant afforf £150 a month plus my normal electric bill i cant eat or sleep just dont know what to do PLEASE help me if you can many thanks Kerry-anne xxxxxxxxx

13 Replies

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  • Kerry,

    Firstly please do not worry about being cut off, the electric company needs a court order first and they don't come easy.

    Disconnection should only be used as a last resort. Gas and electric companies have terms in their licenses which spell out how they should treat customers in arrears. They should work with you to come up with a realistic repayment plan, taking into account your income/outgoing sand any special circumstances such as disabilities. Before disconnection they should offer alternative options such as direct deductions from certain state benefits (if you receive them) or a prepayment meter. It shouldn't come down to disconnection if you can make even small payments towards the arrears.

    You need to go through a budget sheet and work out what you have got available for repaying debts (i.e. what is left over after you meet all your essential costs and bills). You also need to treat this debt as a priority - it is more important than credit debts such as cards, loans, overdrafts so they should get paid back more quickly.

    There is an information pack called 'Dealing with your Debts' available on nationaldebtline.co.uk. This explains all this in more detail. I strongly recommend that you read through this and possibly also give them a ring to speak to one of their advisers. A lot of the time, the answer will depend on your exact circumstances, so it is best if you can talk things through with a professional.

    nationaldebtline.co.uk - 0808 808 4000

    Why you never had a bill for 5 years is not clear, and not knowing who you were signed upto could be called into question possibly as to whether you even owe this. You clearly didn't sign or agree to anything and I'd on monday first thing call the citizens advice.

    You mention a key meter, those are usually topped up with money and used up, so I presume you mean a key to the meter cupboard. They are usually a standard square or triangle so ask the neighbours if they have one, or the guy who reads the meter will have his own anyway, you don't have to provide the meter reading, just make sure they access to the meter if it's indoors.

    To recap, DON'T WORRY, THEY WON'T CUT YOU OFF, just like that, and even if they took this through the courts, and they know it, they would be awarded a repayment plan that is a lot lower and one that you could manage long before ever being considered having your supply removed.

  • Woody has given you some excellent advice.

    Try not to worry - difficult I know.

    The only other suggestion I can think of is to contact someone such as BBC's Watchdog or maybe a local TV station consumer programme. The fact that you are asthmatic - i.e. ill - is a big factor in all of this.

    I will ask around and see if anyone I know has any other suggestions that might help.

  • Hi check where they have been sending your bills. We had the same problem with our old house. I knew who we were supplied by but after 6 months didn't get a bill, so phoned up.They said don't worry we will send you one, phoned every month for a whole year explaining our address. We got a letter saying they were taking us to court but it had been delivered to our house plot number and some how we got the letter this time surprise surprise! When I phoned up, they apologised for their mistake and we paid back what we could owe.The house was not new so why they were using the plot number still when I gave them the correct address with post code is a mystery.

  • thanks for replying i think i will get in touch with citzens advice and watch dog can only try things cant get any worse I HOPE

  • Kerry-anne, I asked around on another forum for advice about your situation and here are a few of the comments from various people. Hope they help:

    ""This is just a stalling tactic and not a solution.

    If she has an electric cooker - just tell her to put a pan of spuds on the boil if they turn up to cut the leccy off.

    Remember reading that by law if the gas or electricity is cooking a meal, they can't cut it off and have to come back some other time.""

    ""She should ask for the contract she signed with them. My mother was ""switched"" a few years ago because the bloke in the downstairs flat switched, and they screwed up. No bill for ages, then a big bill from Southern Electric. They got very arsey until I phoned them and asked for details of what my senile old mother had signed (I laid it on pretty thick, I'm the concerned son, silly old dear has probably forgotten she switched etc), and they said, yes they had it. Could I have a copy I said, so that I can show her. So they sent it to me - signed by Mr Smith, the downstairs neighbour, with his flat number. They caved in almost immediately, bill set to zero, can we have you as a customer please.""

    ""Seems the supplier has made a ****-up. If she can afford one, get a lawyer. If she can't, she should try Citizen's Advice.""

    ""She could also contact Shelter, the Samaritans, citizens advice, any old union her husband was a member of, electircity ombudsman.

    sounds like a c*ck up

    in practice, they probably have no idea how much leccy she has actually used, and in reality, she has probably used far less

    IF she goes to the electric ombudsman, then they will probably do a deal and charge her far far far less.""

    ""here we go:

    the energy ombudsman - energy-ombudsman.org.uk/ ""

    ""1. I think there is a new law whereby if the supplier don't bill within a reasonable period of time, they cannot charge for an unbilled period longer than 12 months. However, I think there is an onus on the person moving in to tell the supplier that they have moved in. If she has proof, that she made contact with the electricity supplier asking them to take on the supply, then she should be fine. If she can't prove this, there may be difficulties.

    2. You must have free access to your meter. It may be that it is just in an cabinet outside - but she doesn't have the 'key' - it's probably wrong to say that it is 'locked', as all cabinets use the same standard 'key'. It is not the electricity company's responsibility to supply the key, as the cabinet belongs to the house. The landlord is responsible for supplying a key - if it's an owner occupied property, than the owner is responsible for the key - they can easily be bought from B&Q or ebay for about £1. If she is being asked for a bill, she almost certainly doesn't have a 'key' (prepayment) meter - and I think that this was just a mistake in her question. If in a block of flats, the meters are in an electrical room , and that room is kept locked (with a proper lock) for health and safety reasons - the landlord must grant you access to that room, whenever reasonably required - you just ask, and they must unlock it, or provide you with the reading, within a reasonable period of time.

    3. £5000 for 3 years sounds excessive - even £5000 for 5 years sounds a little excessive.

    The easiest way to deal with the energy companies, in the first instance, is to contact energywatch. I've never found 1st level customer support from energy companies particularly helpful. I had a problem, where they were billing me for a neighbour's meter. I made dozens of calls, and several e-mail complaints, over 12 months. Nothing was done. I wrote one e-mail to energywatch, who forwarded it to the energy company - where it was obviously handled by a different complaints team. 1 week later, I had a letter of apology, and had an appointment for an engineer for the electricity company to come out and check the meter. Which he did. 1 week later, the account was sorted, and I had a nice cheque - to cover my overpayments, and a big discount for the inconvenience.

  • THANKS again when i say its a key to get into the meter is is a cupboard so its like a house key then the meters are behinde that xxx

  • A few more replies/suggestions:

    ""It may still be worth passing on that it is the management who should be contacted. If, in the future, she needs to read the meter (otherwise, she could end up with unexpectedly high bills, if she ends up relying on estimates).

    Citizens advice may be able to help, but I've never found them useful - indeed, I have on one occasion been given seriously incorrect advice.

    The watchdog 'consumer direct' Consumer direct - consumerdirect.gov.uk/Energ... - (formerly energywatch) are the correct people to go to, as they specialise in representing the public's complaints against energy companies (and billing problems, especially 'back billing', is the most common complaint that they handle). When I had my electricity troubles, as soon as nPower found out that I'd been to energywatch, they got their 'real' customer service team (not just the fob-off ones) on the job, and the problem was sorted in days.

    See my link to Consumer direct.

    Basically it says, that if an energy company has failed to send out a bill, they are barred from charging for more than 1 year (The consumer direct site says 2 years - but this was for the interim period after introduction of the new legislation in 2006. After July 2007, the time period was reduced to 1 year - see the OFGEM response to the billing 'super-complaint' ofgem.gov.uk/Markets/RetMkt... However, this is only if the energy company is at fault.

    If there is proof that the customer contacted the correct energy company, then this is a clear cut case. If, however, and, sadly, as is more likely, there is no proof - then it's going to be her word against theirs.

    If a customer fails to receive a bill (due to a failing by the customer) then the energy company is entitled to bill for all energy used (up to the statue of limitations - 6 years). But, if they do this, they must provide a monthly-repayment plan which will repay the debt, no faster than the duration of the unbilled period. (So, if you screwed up and didn't tell the energy compnay to send you a bill for 5 years, and they didn't attempt to send a bill to 'the occupier' - they can still bill you, but must permit you to pay over 5 years).""

    Hope this helps.

  • I know someone who had problems like this because although their block of flats had three floors, suppliers maintained it only had two and the address given, did not exist.

  • my address dosent excist i live in the old bingo hall for the old people from year blonk when the flats first got built and they converted it into a large flat with 3 bedrooms and there is only me and my cat here he has his own double bed and bedroom lol

  • Help the Aged also have a lot of experience with this kerry-anne.

    You need to find some good help who will argue your case so contact the various organisations in your area that people on here have mentioned.

    Also, perhaps you MP might help.

    I also think some media help would be handy as the power company will not like the bad publicity.

    They should have been billing you years ago and when you did not pay they should have sent someone round to sort it out. They are a business with rules and regulations they have to adhere to - they don't get paid for years and then they send you an enormous bill to frighten you to death. Can't be right.

    Make sure you get good advice and if the advice you get does not sound good go and get a second or third opinion.

    Best of luck.

  • Good news I have finally got a key to my electric cupboard and after a fight on the phone with npower complaint dept they are only able to backdate my bill for one year so thats cut it drastic someone comming out on the 30th june to read meter dont have to pay anybody anything until then so im happy with how its turned out thanks everyone xxxxxx

  • I am so pleased to hear that kerry-anne.

    I have been thinking about you and will past the positive news on to the people who offered suggestions.

    Just make sure they do not try to back-date it more than a year. Keep on your toes.

    Best of luck,

    B.

  • kerry-anne ,

    so glad for you,the stress was no good for your asthma.

    love Glynis x

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