‘Ghost’ Consumers Push up the Cost of Energy Bills

‘Ghost’ Consumers Push up the Cost of Energy Bills

15:01 PM, 16th August 2011, About 13 years ago 8

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"'Ghost' consumer are ramping up bills"

Around 2 million consumers are not paying for gas and electricity due to mix ups over the suppliers.

The main culprits are tenants and home owners who move on without settling their final bills – leaving the new occupants with no clue about who their utility suppliers are.

Two-thirds of consumers are not paying for gas and electricity because the supplier does not recognise them as a customer, even if they have tried to open an account.

Many consumers have not bothered to try to track down their supplier until they receive a bill for up to a year’s worth of supplies and standing orders they have not used.

These ‘ghost’ consumers are adding £125 a year to the annual bills of honest consumers.

Scott Byrom, utilities manager at moneysupermarket.com, the firm that uncovered the problem said: “Over 2 million customers have slipped through the energy net and are not paying for gas or electricity. Whether this is deliberate or not, I would advise against remaining invisible to your provider – if caught, you could find yourself facing a hefty bill as a result.

“After a significant period of non-payment, there could also be complications over the amount you owe, especially if you don’t retain proof of your usage or the meter readings from when you moved into the property. A supplier can charge retrospectively for 12 months of energy used but at current prices – this could see still you hit with a bill of as much as £1,390.”

Finding the energy supplier for a property is simple – find the distribution network operator for your region, then contact the company who can tell you the name and contact details of the supplier.

Landlords and letting agents should keep a log of energy supplier, as tenants can change to try to find a cheaper tariff.

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7:42 AM, 18th August 2011, About 13 years ago

actually the above is not correct firstly i have just been dealing with exactly this problem for the last 2 weeks ,firstly every landlord should have already been trained to ensure that they keep these records and also ensure they tell the suppliers who the new tenants are with readings .your deposit documents and inventory will help you do this also.what i have found that the tenants are not doing what they are supposed to do by registering themselves so you do it for them unfortunately these utility companies give you problems with this but as long as you tell them the readings in a timely fashion then your records can be set straight .the tricks used by foreign tenants is they move in and use the supplies without notifying, giving the supply co wrong address which they will get caught because the meters will not marry up when checked . what amazes me is the supply co do not take proof like contract ,passport, and other proof before they supply the other problem i have found is tenants are arriving with £1000 + bills and the only way they are allowed to have utility supplies is to have prepay meters , don't let this happen because you will never be able to replace your meters back to normal i currently have this situation make sure all tenants prove they have no money owing to utility co and don't give them any deposit on leaving if they don't prove they have paid in full as a landlord you have to be more vigilant on these matters now .good luck

12:06 PM, 18th August 2011, About 13 years ago

Hi Josh

I agree that landlords need to ensure that bills are registered in the right people names and that they are paid and that if every landlord did this the problem would not exist. However, not all landlords are doing this, hence us reporting the problem which ends up costing us all more in the long run. On that basis I don't follow your first statement. What is it that you are saying is not correct?



12:56 PM, 18th August 2011, About 13 years ago

hi mark i don't believe the consumers are ghosts there are consumers that will take the micky as and when but at the end of the day all the consumers will be caught up with because they need to have gas and electricity, and for one minute do you think these guys are not connected to help themselves when it comes to connections ,further the utilities steal each others customers i have come across this several times also,at the end of the day it will be consumers of the foreign status without labelling that try on these tricks and if they leave the country they are gone the utilities will have to pick up the tab for sure but its down to the utilities to make sure they do ,if they worked with us rather than treat landlords like lepers this can be sorted .the utility co's actually try it on with the landlords now as far as they are concerned the landlord gets put back on as soon as the tenant leaves yet the landlord is not the one contracted its become to easy for them to sell without doing any real work on the customer i just had a call from the ombudsman because i am not allowed to change my meter or go to another supplier .

13:22 PM, 18th August 2011, About 13 years ago

by the way mark you are aware that whenever a person moves on you always get that standard letter to the occupier ever wondered how that happens when the bills are unpaid .2mil consumers not paying cannot equate to 2/3rds of consumers surly 70+mil people even if a 1/3rd was registered =23mil ,2mil not paying is only a fraction never the less why should it be. the reason for the bills becoming an amount of a years use is again because the suppliers have cut back the work they do to find out readings ,the ones that are now self employed are not doing their jobs properly when it comes to reading the meters i know because i worked for legal and trade for a while. lets face it even when you call the utility co's all they want to know if you are paying the bill. i just dont see how its the landlords that can be responsible yet again .

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

14:28 PM, 18th August 2011, About 13 years ago

Hi Josh

When my tenants move in I take meter readings with them as part of my inventory and I inform the utility companies of their move in date, contact details and the readings as part of the service I offer. I do the same for them when they move out. I don't have any problems as a result.

Some landlords don't do this and they have problems, the utility companies lose money and put their charges up to all other customers to cover this.



17:06 PM, 18th August 2011, About 13 years ago

hi mark i do the exact same thing i suspect most if not all other landlords do the same so they do not have the problem spoken about so where is this 2mil cheats coming from ,the problem is as i have found out is people are being registered to accounts with no fault of their own and ending up as being the ones owing the money and then having to deal with it ,i doubt that this 2mil is correct rather than being a mix up within the utilities systems which they need to sort out and a lot of ground work will be necessary to deal with it .

5:22 AM, 24th August 2011, About 13 years ago

I can well believe this article. I built 4 properties and registered them all upon completion. After receiving initial bills both my tenant & myself stopped receiving bills. Despite calling to find out where they were on several occasions the utility company didn't want to know & always insisted that it was someone else's problem. After 5 years we finally started getting bills but they were for different properties. It took 18 months & hundreds of hours of my time to sort this out despite sending them exact details of which meter relates to which property. In the end they could only charge both of us for 12 months of gas so a bit of a win for both the tenant & myself but quite frankly I would have rather paid the bills from the off. Their incompetence was mind blowing, all they needed to do was send an engineer round to confirm, but they don't have anyone technical any more just a bunch of call centre muppets who refuse to get out from in front of their computer.

7:40 AM, 24th August 2011, About 13 years ago

after getting a bill for over 2,000 for utilities used and like you say hours in fact days and months of dealing with this property it turned out ,one utility company ended up with the account by stealing it ,then returning it to the other one because i caught them, the utility co that had it originally did not deal with it properly so the tenant living there at the time was also as scatty as the day was long and did not care but at the same time the utility co got the account wrong and registered it to someone not even in the property and was across the alley . the new tenant in his wisdom started paying invoices from the co that stole the account in the first place and has been doing so for over 18 months no other bill / invoice has been sent to the property ,but through our records it has turned out which goes back for years was able to decifer the matter the new tenant has a bill for around 600 and now he wants to argue he was unaware. unfortunately it is the tenants and the landlords responsibility to ensure that one or the other lets the supply co know. that is the power handed to the supply co's they do not have to do any work other than look at their records ,the new tenant has used the electricity our readings prove that so he now has to make an arrangement to pay this money over a period of time at least that is what i have advised him to do the co will accept this , in the tenants cause he thought he was paying both utilities to the co he was paying but as you see this was not the case what i dont understand is why the utility co did not let him know that i had notified them ,but you know the utility co's do not take this advice from landlords any more they require this from the tenants that's not to say they wont take what you say and record it for future reference hyper spaced yet the times we live in ,you are guilty prove your innocence ,any body watch house you know the the super doc on tv "every body is a lier". good luck

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