Monday, November 13, 2006

Electricity suppliers

I note that it's that time of year again when the TV news starts complaining about the price and quality of service of electricity suppliers in this country. Of course almost all the reports you hear about are from domestic arrangements so I thought I'd share a tale from the landlord's perspective. (I've told this tale in one form or another on a certain newsgroup so they can feel free to skip it)

A tenant was leaving a unit at the end of October last year as such they'd informed their electricity supplier, let's call them company X. We get a letter from the metering company asking us to cough up an annual fee and sign a five-year contract for the type of meter installed. We're obviously startled by this and contact the metering company. They say

It's the type of tariff you're on. By law you have to have one of these meters
We contact company X
You can't change the tariff until you show 3 months of use below the threshold
"But it'll be empty" we reply
Think yourself lucky, the law's only just changed and before that you'd have been stuck at that rate
We then contact the metering company and explain the situation, they're very good about it.

Months pass and at the end of January the next year we get a set of invoices from company X for October, November, December, and January. Well for starters we shouldn't have got one for October, next up we spotted a £100 management charge and a £200 distribution charge per month. A phone call is quickly made
The management fee is because you're not in contract with us, the distribution fee is because you're drawing excess electricity
"But you've never offered us a contract, and the unit is empty" we cry.
Not our problem you're in a deemed contract and our terms and conditions state we can charge you £100 per month, the distribution charge is nothing to do with us you'll have to contact your distributors Central Networks.
"How are we supposed to know that?"
Not our problem, here's their number
One phone call to them and they're very surprised to hear from us, they don't deal with end-users, in fact the guy I speak to has never dealt with an end-user and he's been there since before they changed the name. He's very good, deals with us, and drops this distribution.

The next day we get a letter from X, regarding how they're the new suppliers for the premises and that they'd be charging us a £100 fee each month.

Another phone call to them
Not our problem
Several invoices later and they're still charging a distribution fee, after yet another call they credit it back, they still don't want to offer us a contract, they're still charging us £100 a month for a unit which is using 0 units of electricity a month. Total bill being about £200 a month.

We contact Energywatch who say they'll look into it. Time passes, we contact them again. They express surprise they hadn't heard from X or ourselves and therefore assumed it was dealt with. They try again. Time passes. We talk to them again, they try again.

Finally we get a letter from X in response, the summation is
They're not in contract we can charge £100 per month as per our T&Cs, Ofgen say we can nah nah nah nah nah
Energywatch are still on the case, trouble is all the laws and regulations are on the side of X. We should have contacted them to get a contract a month before the tenants left, we should have known about the electricity supply, we should have known about the T&Cs. Sucks huh?

To add insult to injury, another empty unit got a bill with an extra £1,000 slipped on from another electricity supplier Y.
It's nothing to do with us it's the distribution company, who are... Z
"No Z is another supplier, the distributors are Central Networks"
Nope it's Y and here's the number
Dialling number...
Welcome to Central Networks
After diving through a menu system that didn't offer me any choices I needed I gave up and contacted my man on the inside from the previous problem. He confirmed they hadn't asked for this charge. Back to Y
It's nothing to do with us it's the distribution company who are Midla-
"Nope it's Central Networks. I've called them and they say it's nothing to do with them, here's what you're going to do! Call this number, talk to this guy, remove the charges"
The charges vanished off the next invoice without a single word of apology or explanation.


Strom said...
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