I changed energy supplier from British Gas to Bulb. Given that my son now has an electric car, this seemed a responsible thing to do so as to be buying 100% renewable energy, and actually Bulb were a tad cheaper.
I got the final bill from British Gas, paid it, and then started paying Bulb. All pretty seamless (apart from the smart meter now being dumb). I did not expect to hear any more from British Gas, obviously.
In fact, the final bill had actual smart meter readings for the date I left them, so not doubt whatsoever that I had paid correctly up to the reading on that day, no estimates.
To my surprise, nearly 5 months later, I get another "final" bill from British Gas!
Yes, it covers a different, longer, overlapping period.
But strangely the bill is now for an estimated
There is nothing on this bill saying it is a replacement of the previous bill (or bills), and no formal VAT credit note received. Indeed it lists charges for gas and electricity totalling £384.36, but showing balance and previous payments making only £19.49 due.
Unsurprisingly, even I was confused, especially at the electricity charge being based on an estimated final reading not an actual one. I thought smart meters meant an end to estimated readings, and indeed the previous "final bill" made that clear.
What ensued was a long, and very frustrating, conversation with British Gas, I can't be arsed to publish the recording as it is very repetitive to be honest. This blog is mind numbing enough without it.
Sadly I had someone that refused to actually answer questions most of the time, or even acknowledge the point I was making, constantly saying things like "you have mentioned that before" rather than agreeing, or even disagreeing, with what I was saying.
He "explained" that I have a new bill because my new energy supplier contacted them to "correct" the final electricity meter reading from 51361 to 51485, and that is why the £19.49 was due. He explained this was a replacement of my last bill and that the gas reading had not changed, which makes the bill even more confusing, but OK. I have no idea why Bulb would have contacted British Gas to make such a change.
I explained that British Gas have smart meters. That the previous final bill had a smart meter reading of 51361. He confirmed smart meters are meant to be "100% accurate", and after much going round in circles he agreed that the new supplier "must have sent incorrect information".
Well, from my point of view that is the end of the matter:
I have paid British Gas fully up to the "100% accurate" smart meter reading for the day I left them, done. This new "final" bill is based on incorrect information - information British Gas know for a fact (based on their "100% accurate" smart meter reading) is incorrect. So I don't need to pay it, do I?
He really got annoying with the "you mentioned that before" replies - so much so that at one point I said "Yes, I have, but is what I am saying incorrect?" which he refused to answer.
He also got annoying with the repeated "I just need to explain why you have this bill" and I kept saying "You explained, it was new supplier sending you incorrect information, but as you know it is incorrect I don't have to pay it". He eventually said I could not just ignore the bill and that I would have to contact the new supplier - why?!?! How is that my job?
No matter how many times I explained that the final meter reading is a matter of fact, one that they have absolute proof to confirm (smart meter reading), and that I have paid all usage up to that 100% accurate" final smart meter reading on the day I left so could not possibly owe any more, he would have none of it. He just kept trying to "explain" why I have this new "final" bill!
We did have one slight digression which really made no sense: He said that even though the first final bill said "smart meter reading" the 51361 shown was actually what Bulb had told them. Obviously saying it is a "smart meter reading" is a tad misleading if it is not so (fraudulent maybe?). I asked him what the actual
smart meter reading was and he (eventually) confirmed it was in fact 51361. So basically Bulb had confirmed the same meter reading that British Gas had actually taken - even more proof that this matter of fact was correctly recorded the first time (by both energy suppliers).
First "final" bill
New "final" bill
We were going round in circles so I finally resorted to stating that as they knew the factually correct meter reading, they know that what they have on record now is wrong. It is wrong personal information and so I formally requested that they correct the incorrect personal information they hold on me as required by GDPR and the Data Protection Act. I had to insist on this many times. I had to ask if he would be correcting the data many times, and insist on a "yes" or "no" answer before finally getting a "no"!
I then tried to get him to answer as to whether he understood that correcting incorrect personal information was a legal requirement. He refused to give a "yes" or "no" answer and finally went to talk to someone and came back saying he would credit the bill and nothing is owed.
No acceptance that they had the correct final meter readings as a matter of fact.
No acceptance they have any obligation to correct incorrect personal information.
Oh, well, at least it is sorted, but just really annoying conversation to have.
Anyway I ends by saying I was making a Subject Access Request and required all data including all smart meter readings ever. Apparently I'll had that in 7 days, nice! It should be interesting.
Anyway, having sorted all of this I checked my Bulb bills. I pay them a fixed monthly amount by Direct Debit, so had not actually checked the detailed bills. But this seemed like a good time to do it.
My first 3 Bulb statements charged £0.00 for electricity usage, estimated meter readings 46791 to 46791, and then a bill for £1,496.61 for 46791 to 59129 (my reading).
Well, apart from a very strange way of doing estimates, that initial meter reading of 46791 is rather at odds with the final meter reading of 51361 up to which I had paid British Gas, and it does not even match the 51485 that British Gas claimed Bulb has sent them as a "correction".
We'll see how well Bulb sort that one out tomorrow when they are open.
Prediction: Bulb tell British Gas 46791 and I get a large credit from British Gas, but they won't know how to actually pay me money...
Seriously, how is something so stunningly simple handled so badly by two different energy suppliers. Crazy!
P.S. Sorry, before someone says this - yes, he could have said something like "There needs to be an agreed handover
reading which may not be the same as the smart meter reading because of time of day or it being taken a day before or after, etc, but the bill is based on the agreed handover reading
which both energy suppliers used as the reference to stop and start billing". He did not say that. Had he said that it would have made more sense except for Bulb working on such a completely different starting reading. Also, assuming that is the case, it would be better for the bill to say "agreed handover reading" rather than either "smart meter reading" or "estimated reading". They also need to not simply "replace" two previous bills with no explanation whatsoever.