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Mel Fisher: 1, British Gas: 0

Mel Fisher: fight with British Gas.

Mel Fisher: fight with British Gas.

St Peter’s Road resident Mel Fisher has had a year long battle with British Gas – and it looks like she might have won. The cheeky company tried to foist an £800 gas bill on her, but Mel fought back and with the help of Energywatch, might actually have beaten the bullies. She explains in her own words:
“The gas saga really started some time ago, I had always been receiving letters from them stating that I owed vast amounts of money, as far back as 2003. Whenever I have queried this, I have always been told that this was probably a computer error!! However, the real problems started at the end of December 2005. I received a letter from British Gas that was dated 17th November 2005. This letter was quite frightening, here is a quote from it…. “Unless you call us immediately to arrange for your meter to be removed, we will apply for a warrant from a magistrate or Justice of the Peace to enter your premises and disconnect the supply. The Police may be present when we call. This action will commence on or after 8th December 2005.” I felt very frightened at this point because I had only just received the letter and it was over a month old, so any knock on my door made me feel sick with fear. I immediately rang B.G. and was told not to worry – easy for them to say. They would send a man out to reset my meter. He came at the beginning of January 2006. What I wasn’t told was that they were putting a debt of £810.94 onto my meter. The letter I had recently received from them was for a debt of £542.48. So, in effect, I had used £268.46 of gas in 6 weeks! I didn’t owe any of this money – I always pay in advance, using my gas card. Now, every time I charge my gas card I am paying for a debt that I don’t owe. Since then, I have made dozens of calls to B.G. pleading with them to sort it out for me. I cannot even begin to describe how frustrating and stressful this was. But I have found out by now that the reason for this debt, is because they have no record of me buying any gas for the period from December 1998 until November 2004. I then received another letter, this time saying they have no record of me buying any gas from 25th November 2004 – 12th January 2006. Fortunately, I managed to find 5 receipts dated 2005. Again, I rang B.G. to ask about this and was told not to worry about it, they DO have records of my buying gas between Dec ‘98 – Jan ‘06, they could even tell me on what days I bought the gas!”
  “Moving the story on, I was sure that I had been with Seeboard (EDF) at some point, so I rang them to ask if they could check to see when I had been with them. It turns out that I was mistaken, they had supplied my electricity but not the gas. But, I am so glad that I rang them, when telling the chap that I spoke to about my problems, and how I wished that I was still with them, he became my tower of strength. He told me exactly what to do and who to phone, even what to say. He phoned me back every step of the way, telling me what to do next. When I still had no joy, he then put me onto Energywatch, which is a government-run body. Apparently all utility services are frightened of them being involved. Once Energywatch are involved, the problem has to be sorted out within 3 weeks, by law. To date, I have received a call from one of the managers at B.G. saying how “very sorry” he is to learn of my problems. Not that sorry in my opinion, or it would have been sorted out by now, instead of which, it has taken nearly 1 year. He promises that on Monday 11th December an engineer will call to reset my meter and remove the debt. Everything that I have paid off of this debt will be repaid to me, also the cost of my phone calls. We shall see, watch this space. My advice to anyone with a token meter would be this, please keep all of your receipts, I keep mine year by year in envelopes, this doesn’t take up much space. I just wish that I had kept mine dating back to 1998, but you don’t think that you are going to need them. If anyone else is having problems with B.G. call Energywatch on 0845 906 0708 or write to them at Delta House, 50 West Nile Street, Glasgow, G1 2NP,  www.energywatch.org.uk
 “ Update: Mel’s meter was reset on Monday 11th December and the debt was removed – hooray! She is now talking to Energywatch about the possibility of compensation for the 11 months of agony and stress she’s been through. Mel has been on medication for anxiety and panic attacks for some time, following a breakdown, and this battle with British Gas has only added to her stress. “I don’t want people to think I’m some weak neurotic female! In the space of one year, I had 14 bereavements, a breast cancer scare and the break up of a long-term relationship due to the stress I was under. Emotionally, I’ve always been a strong person, but all of that took its toll. It was a pretty awful time for me, but you just have to get on with it. I don’t mind if you put this in, it’s not a secret and you never know, it might even help someone to know that however bad things seem, you can get over it.”

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