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Is it my Responsibility to Pay for a Faulty Meter?

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 19 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
British Gas Complaint Energy Supplier

Q.I would be grateful if you could please advise me on the following:

My gas bill has been high for quiet a while. I decided to change my boiler 3 years ago but the bill still hasn't been reduced. After three years I have now replaced the new boiler with another one and today the gas man that changed my boiler found out that the gas meter had been leaking. He reported it and this has been changed immediately.

My query to British Gas was what they were going to do about it and they said it was still my responsibility to pay for it. Can you please advise if this is correct as I don't feel it is.

(Mr Harish Betchoo, 9 October 2008)

A.

As the meter is the responsibility of British Gas, you should not be liable for any costs incurred due to maintenance, replacement or any excess charges caused by its faulty operation.

Therefore, contrary to the response you received from British Gas, you are entitled to receive compensation from them for the money that has been billed to you in error over this extended period.

What is not clear from your query is what action was taken when you first recognised that there might be a problem with your meter readings. The necessary course of action would have been to immediately contact your supplier who is required to investigate your complaint and take measures to resolve the problem.

Your query infers that you replaced at least one of your boilers thinking that this might be the root of the problem. If this action was prompted by British Gas in response to a complaint about a high meter reading then you may be entitled to compensation for the costs of installing a new boiler. If this is so, then you will nevertheless need proof that British Gas advised such an action.

Unfortunately getting any money back from British Gas might prove an uphill struggle. The energy supplier seems to struggle in providing customer satisfaction. For example between the period of October 2006 and March 2007 it managed to attract a record breaking 21,427 customer complaints, nearly three times that of those addressed to all the other energy suppliers put together. As with this case, most of these complaints were from people demanding their money back after being mistakenly overcharged.

As you have already raised the issue with your supplier, your second step should be to issue a full written complaint to the British Gas customer service department. This letter should outline the history of the problem, assert your consumer rights and make clear what action you expect them to take.

If this proves ineffective then the next step up the ladder is Consumer Direct, the government funded consumer advice service. Energywatch used to be in charge of dealing with energy supplier-related complaints but since October 1st 2008, the responsibility has shifted to Consumer Direct.

If even this proves unsatisfactory then you might consider taking your query up with the Energy Supply ombudsman, which deals with complaints against any of the supply companies.

To support your efforts in resolving the issue I would stress the importance of keeping safe all relevant correspondence, emails, bills and recording details of any phone call made. In this particular case it would be very useful to obtain any bill records from the period when the meter wasn’t functioning correctly. These will be invaluable in ascertaining how much money you have been overcharged.

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RSK - 19-Nov-18 @ 5:51 PM
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Garlor - 22-Jun-17 @ 6:00 PM
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jac - 16-Aug-15 @ 9:53 AM
I have recently received two bills from Scottish Power regarding a faulty meter, where the counter stopped working. The first bill was for works/visits done by British Gas in replacing that meter, and the second to back-bill an estimated usage over two years. My usage is very low, so I'm sure their estimate (stated as using British Gas templates) is far too high, by a factor of 10 given my current usage since the meter has been replaced (even taking into account winter use). They have ignored me when I have stated this. I saw in your response to the online faulty meter example, that the meter is the responsibility of the supplier, and that I "should not be liable for any costs incurred due to maintenance, replacement or any excess charges caused by its faulty operation". Can you please show where can I find suitable evidence, as they are also outright stating these are chargeable? I am also aware that the UK law implies companies have to prove liability of any debt claimed on consumers. My requests to resolve the issue through official complaints procedure have been refused by denial of any fault on their part. How can I stop SP from charging such a high and unreasonable level of usage over two years? Perhaps by proving no liability for generalized estimates, requiring proof of accurate estimates based on personal usage, or by showing they can only back-bill to the 12 months of the back-billing-code in a situation like this? Any reference information that I can quote to SP would be appreciated. Thanks
PSR - 11-Jun-15 @ 8:44 AM
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