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This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. The opinions expressed within are my own and should not be attributed to any other Individual, Company or the one I work for. I just happen to be a classic techie who is passionate about getting things to work as they should do (and are sometimes advertised and marketed as being able to?) and when I can I drop notes here to help others falling in to the same traps that I have fallen in to. If this has helped then please pass it on - if you feel that I have commented in error or disagree then please feel free to discuss with me either publically or privately? Cheers, Dave
Thin Clients, VDI and Linux integration from the front lines.... Raw and sometimes unedited notes based on my experiences with VMware, Thin Clients, Linux etc.
UPDATE - RESULT
Well it has taken nearly a total of 3 - 4 hours and various phone calls but they have now agreed to cancel the debit side (= about £170 off the bill) and add a further £50 credit for the inconvience and effort I've had to go through before they see the light. It's definately worth sticking to your guns and pushing for what you know is right?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
Now I will freely admit that what I have copied below is merely a DRAFT of a complaint I am sending in to Atlantic Electric and Gas (as owned by Scottish and Southern Energy PLC, here in the UK) BUT this being a blog - and simply based on my personal opinion - I can say what I like (at least for now??)
 
Please read through this: Essentially what it boils down to is, most Electrical (and/or Gas?) companies don't worry too much about the details on the meter - they'll get you one way or the other, when you sell your house, or when you realise that you have a bad credit rating?
 
So we have discoverd that over the last 12 months we have only been getting estimates going up by 50% of the national average, way down on what it used to be, while the cost of electricity has gone up by 50% - the net result is that we have not noticed anything different. UNTIL we gave them a revised reading, when all of a sudden the electricity company wants backpayments in TODAY'S PRICES
 
£420 plus? I think not!!! If this happens to you, stick to your guns and don't accept anything less than having to pay the difference using the price of 12 months ago - once you force the issue with this you wil be amazed at how accomadating the "System" can be all of a sudden.  ;-))
 
 
+++++++++++++++++++++Draft of Complaint++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
We have been paying £30/month for some time now and this has been fine.
 
The last meter reading we confirmed for them was 65,181 Units, sometime shortly before the 18th of April 2005. At the time the Price of the electricity was only 5.20 pence per Unit
 
We realised today that something was clearly wrong as we have now accumulated a total credit of £254.20 - so something clearly wasn't correct.
 
Over the last 15 months there has been no Meter reading by any Electrical Company employee, equally it would appear that Atlantic Electric and Gas has only been adding an estimated use of 4,000 units per year as an estimate instead of the normal industry average of 8,000 units per year. (The figure of 8,000 units per year was supplied by Customer Centre Supervisor, Sxxxx Exxxx)
 
Had the estimated figure of 8,000 units per year been applied we would now be showing an estimated reading of (8,000 x 1.25 years = ) 10,000 units added to the last correct reading supplied by us 65,181 + 10,000 = 75,181 (this would have been almost spot on!) - whereas the Current Estimate supplied by Atlantic is listed as 70,213 (an addition of approximately half the normal average over the same period)
 
This has now lead to a discrepancy of a total of 5,191 Units as of today's reading when we realised that we had accumulated a total credit of  £254.20.
 
The initial reaction from Sxxxx Exxxx was to simply enter the **new** correct meter Reading and inform us that instead of the £254.20 CR that we did have - we were now in arrears to the sum of £167 plus.
 
I would like to put it to Atlantic Electric and Gas (as owned by Scottish and Southern Energy PLC) that this is a disgraceful way to run your business. I would like to draw your attention to the following points?
  • It should not be reliant on the customer to provide you with meter readings to ensure that the correct amounts are paid for, the fact the we can and sometimes do is simply an additional cost saving to Atlantic.
  • We consider the error to be more than significant being and error in excess of £400, however think of the implications this could have on people with fixed incomes - this is outrageous and disgraceful - and I'm sure in some cases this could lead to stress and health issues among the elderly.
  • Are we the only people that are being "Estimated" incorrectly at half the national average?
  • I would guess this might not be the case, as this would conveniently "hide" the apparent increases in energy costs being charged to the customer?
  • I would possibly go so far to suggest that this might encompass quite a number of your customers?
  • It does appear to be something of a co-incidence that while the price of electricity has shot up since last April 2005 from 5.20p / Unit to now in excess of 8p / Unit at our last bill equating to an approx. annual rise of over 50% that the "Estimated" Use is now being calculated at 50% of the national average?
  • Not only does this have the nasty habit of delaying the crunch for most households but this **cunning** scheme has an additional benefit to Atlantic Electric and Gas (as owned by Scottish and Southern Energy PLC) in that you will pay current prices for Electricity that was used almost 12 months or more ago - this in effect means you are effectively paying 50% more than you should be.
  • Some may say this is tantamount to Fraud or Stealing?
By asking us to accept a "correction" of over £400 by simply stating that "this is what your new bill is calculated to" or trying to rationalise it to use that as a Supervisor you only have recourse to authorise a "discount" of £50 is disgraceful
 
My interpretation of this is that as a company "you are trying it on!", you are simply playing a numbers game. I would imagine that 60 - 70% of customers don't check the bill or simply pay it, of the 30% left you probably try the £50 dodge and get 25% or more just accepting that with most not realising that they have been significantly over charged!
 
Even at this point I am probably being somewhat optimistic of the general public, and I wouldn't mind betting that less than 2% who have had their bill underestimated have got this far?
 
I would like Atlantic Electric and Gas (as owned by Scottish and Southern Energy PLC) to put a case to me AND the EnergyWatch to prove that this is not a systematic abuse? I cannot believe that it is simply one bill that has been underestimated by 50% while AT THE SAME TIME the price of Electricity has gone up by 50%?
 
I look forward to your further correspondence on this matter?
 
Regards,
David Caddick
Posted on Monday, June 19, 2006 9:34 PM C500/C600 SmartPhone (or replacement) , Citrix , Exchange and Push Email , IT Management , Real Cool Stuff , Microsoft Tips , VMware and other Virtualization tools , Security | Back to top


Comments on this post: Rising Energy Prices? Best keep an eye on your Electricity and Gas Bills?

# re: Rising Energy Prices? Best keep an eye on your Electricity and Gas Bills?
Requesting Gravatar...
I've been stung by lousy bill estimates before, so ever since have always tried to submit the correct the reading if it is particularly wrong. I'm not sure if it is the same now, but I was told that the way they work is to take the usage for the same period in preceding years at your property, to cope with seasonal usage, and personal usage variations. In my case meant that it was going back to a previous occupant of the flat whose usage was totally different, which seems to be what has happened with you.

To be honest, if you're lucky they'll give you a goodwill payment over it, and I'd be surprised if you got any more, but since estimation is a standard practice in the industry, they are providing a way to submit an accurate reading yourself, and are highlighting the estimation on the bill, they can probably argue that it's your fault.

With regards to dealing with them, Energywatch won't take a complaint unless you've given Atlantic/SSE a chance to sort the problem (although you can log a call with them immediately - they should be able to advise on yor chances of getting anywhere too). The main change I think you'll need make to the letter to add a clear statement at the end that you're giving them 28 days to resolve the problem to your satisfaction, at which point you'll open an Energywatch complaint. Since one of SSE's annual targets is a reduction in Energywatch complaints, hopefully that will spur them into action, and should get your complaint through to the troubleshooting team.

Let us know how it goes.
Left by Richard on Jun 29, 2006 8:09 AM

# re: Rising Energy Prices? Best keep an eye on your Electricity and Gas Bills?
Requesting Gravatar...
Hi Richard,

The interesting thing is that I have now had a result!!! The £170 debit has been canceled and for my bother I have also been issued a £50 as compensation for my time and effort in getting this sorted - how's that!

It pays to hang in there when you have a legitimate complaint?

Dave
Left by Dave Caddick on Jun 29, 2006 5:02 PM

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