Dear 'Ask the Experts',
I do hope that you can assist me here. I would be most grateful for a response by end of play this Tuesday (8/5) as i have an appointment with my MP to look into this first thing this Wednesday.
Many thanks in anticipation of some impartial advice and guidance.
Summary of events:
In May 2005, two door to door salesmen from Southern Electric (SE) informed me that I could reduce my British Gas bills which were quite high, down to £25 gas and £20 electric per month. I said I would only agree to that if I didn't get a big adjustment bill at the end of the year. They said I wouldn't. I agreed and signed the contract.
I was not aware of there being any problem until Sept 2006 when I received an adjustment bill from SE increasing my bills to £69 (gas) and £43 (electric). Since then I have written numerous times to SE and have been all through the process with Energywatch, who on 4th May 2007 have confirmed that they can't do any more for me. I contacted OFGEM on 4th May 2007 and they were not able to assist either.
Points that Support my case:
1. In essence I am certain I was mis-sold this contract – in that I was misled by these two door to door salesmen who by giving me false statements induced me into a pecuniary agreement and told me how this would financially benefit me.
2. These salesmen did see copies of my British Gas Bills and did know my previous usage.
3. I would not have agreed that contract had I been told the truth.
4. I was wholly reliant on these two Salesmen’s expertise.
5. I believed their offer to be genuine.
6. This was a clear breach of the Misrepresentation Act 1967.
7. I have looked into the Marketing Licence Conditions 48 and I am certain that they have breached section 2 b) ii and section 4 c) and Section 6. According to the CAB, customers should be automatically compensated and the contract should not be valid, to ensure that consumers are not asked to pay for mistakes of the business.
8. SE have admitted that there was a problem with their door to door salesmen (verbally to me and also via press articles). These press articles go back to 2002. Incidentally I have also noted that energywatch appear to have changed the way they record levels of complaint on their website. When I last looked some time ago I saw a table where approximately 227 other consumers had experienced the mis-selling of gas and electric and were quoted lower repayment payment plans than was correct. This information no longer appears to be available in this format.
What have Southern Electric done to date:
SE have paid me £62 compensation for this matter but I have categorically stated that this amount is not satisfactory.
In November 2006 my payments were increased to £46 gas and £35 electric as I understand that was the rate of my current usage. It was agreed during the discussion I had with that SE Advisor that these payments would be held at that repayment rate for about 18 months. Although I was a bit confused as the Advisor said I was actually using £42 gas and £28 electricity. Although she also said that the amount I would be now paying was about moving forwards and didn’t include repaying past costs. I am currently paying these sums of £46 and £35. I am experiencing financial hardship in respect of these sums.
I was then very surprised that in April 2007 I was then asked to increase these payments to £72 gas and £62 electric per month. They did offer me various other options on these payments but in essence they add up to the same amount, which I don’t have.
What am I prepared to do:
I do know that energy prices did increase industry-wide and am happy to come to an agreement and pay that specific difference only.
What I am not in a position to do:
I am not in a financial position to pay the outstanding amount (of around £154.98 gas and £188.94 electric totalling £343.82).
What Southern Electric want from me:
SE want me to increase my payments to £72 and £62. A compromise would be £51 and £45 over a longer period. This is still beyond my ability to pay.
What I want:
I want the shortfall in monies owed to be cancelled out and then start afresh from November 2006 (when I started to pay the appropriate amount) and to receive far more adequate compensation than £62 for the fiasco and severe stress that this has caused me.
Current state of play:
At this precise moment I have asked SE to hold fire until 1st June 2007 whilst I try to find someone to help me resolve my case.
My Next Steps:
I will be seeing my MP on 9th May 2007 and may suggest he contacts another MP Dr Vince Cable who has had dealings with other ‘victims’ of Southern Electrics door to door selling techniques.
· Check out if I have any redress under the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill (2006-7).
· Failing to get the complete repayment difference quoshed then to find someone to act as a mediator to agree a satisfactory deal.
So how can you help me?
· Do I have a legal case here?
· If so, I can’t afford to pay privately for a Solicitor – what other options do I have here?
· Are you able to help me?
· Any other advice you can give?
· Finally is it worth me battling on? What can I do if I don’t have the money to pay for this shortfall (which I don’t see why I should pay)?
Many Thanks for your help and advice