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back to article Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation

British colocation outfit Alphadex says British Gas is refusing to discuss what it believes are errors in its bills and says that dispute, rather than any financial weakness, is behind the energy company's petition to wind it up. Alphadex sent The Reg the following statement. "With regards to the winding up petition from …

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Bronze badge

What sort of company leaves it 30 months to check how much they are paying for electricity? No one has done a review of costs in nearly 3 years? I smell something whiffy.

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Sounds like both parties are at fault here, one doing the overcharging and one blindly paying the bills without reading them.

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Anonymous Coward

"What sort of company leaves it 30 months...."

Most of them, which is why I have a job.

I will, however, concur absolutely with Alphadex on this one. Centrica (AKA British Gas) massively overestimate billing charges and consumption charges on a routine basis, sometimes for years at a time because they fail to meet their contractual obligation to obtain two actual meter readings per year. And good luck getting the money back even if you do spot the mistakes - they'll use any trick in the book to avoid repaying you.

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Silver badge

Eh?

Every DC I know of (not many granted) have computer controlled UPS where you can see EXACTLY current demand and by that fact, usage over X period.

No if like they say they have been cutting back on power, surely they would of seen hoped to have seen the bills drop.

That said, in their defence, if finance are simply rubber stamping them, then where does the buck stop?

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Mushroom

Maximum Demand Tariff

Commercial services get charged on their maximum demand, chances are they have a peak reading VA meter on the premises, which should be periodically reset. One would suggest that no-one has bothered reading this device.

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Re: Maximum Demand Tariff

"Commercial services get charged on their maximum demand"

True, but they are also charged for total usage, and for the load profile (how power is used during the day). This makes knowing what you should be paying very difficult, and transparency in the B2B power market is poor as a consequence.

As most businesses contract for a period of supply even if the tarrif is variable, it is possible that they contracted for N years at the prevailing peak demand, and the contracted peak demand costs are fixed irrespective of actuals. British Gas' contempt for their commercial customers is clear from the fact they've just been fined over £5m for obstructing business customers wishing to switch supplier.

Unfortunately things are going to get worse for business customers as DECC and the network operators try and shove more of total costs into the "peak demand" category, and DECC introduce complex schemes like the capacity mechanism that seeks to encourage businesses with standby generation to use this to mitigate peak demand.

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Reminds me

Reminds me of when I had a gas bill from BG many years ago that was ridiculous. I persuaded endless bods on the phone that I didn't owe it but still the demand letters and bailiff threats came.

I'm sure they're much better now though.

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Re: Reminds me

That's nothing. There was a report some years ago where they sent the baliffs round to a farm that was about a mile away from the nearest gas pipe! Seems like they haven't improved much.

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The advertising of a winding up petition is the end result of a statutory demand, the service of a petition by process server and a negotiating period. BG wouldnt have taken this lightly as once a petition is advertised your bank account gets froze, so unless you are absolutely sure you don't do it or can face a damages claim by the company. If the company was so sure they could have obtained an injunction preventing the advertising of the petition (this is the usual way of dealing with it) so either the management team are incompetent, burring their head in the sand or both.

The hearing is on monday, the only thing BG need to satisfy the court is that there is a debt of more than £750 due and if they are then the company will be wound up.

When your a DC one of the suppliers you dont fall out with is your electricity supplier.... something isnt right!

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Anonymous Coward

" BG wouldnt have taken this lightly ...."

I can't speak for BG, but some companies do actually treat these quite lightly as some customer companies can be real pains when trying to recover money. I used to work for a company that got an average of about one petition a week over several months, although in that case the problem was solvency rather than disputed charges.

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Someone here is being an idiot.

They arrival of a winding up petition would not have come as a surprise. Surely they can't have hoped that people wouldn't notice and their business wouldn't be affected?

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"Surely they can't have hoped that people wouldn't notice and their business wouldn't be affected?"

You'd hope not, although some businesses are that chaotic. More likely Alphadex intend to defend themselves in court, but short of paying British Gas' demand, they can't actually stop a petition going to court, what they can do is contest it.

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BG

BG - British Gas? From my experience more like Bloody Gormless!!!

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Bronze badge

my favourite meter reading

After getting an ~£1000 quarterly electricity bill one day i was on the phone to give my actual meter reading and it was only when comparing the numbers i'd realised what had happened

I recalled there had been two engineers reading my meter, one had clearly read the numbers out loud left to right and his mate had been writing them down right to left

The potential for that bill to have gone through some weird heights had the original rightmost units been much lower than the actual leftmost top-number

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Anonymous Coward

Well just to balance things out.

I just had an estimated gas and electricity bill that was considerably lower than what I had used. I decided that it was best not to inform them of their error :-)

Anon, obviously because they might be watching me!

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Re: Well just to balance things out.

Yes but when it does balance out your going to pay a higher price for the under charged units, prices only go up not down. So while you save in the short run it is going to cost you more in the end.

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ACZ

Re: Well just to balance things out.

Ultimately, you will have to pay for all of the gas and electricity you have used. So whether it's worth under-paying now depends on how gas and electricity prices move in the future - if they e.g. increase above inflation (or at a greater rate than the interest rate on your bank account minus tax) then it's actually better to pay for everything now (or even over-pay i.e. pay for gas and electricity you haven't used yet) since you'll end up paying more for the same gas/electricity later.

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Re: Well just to balance things out.

True, if rather blindingly obvious. But I use more in winter, so this balances out the cost of my usage over the year more evenly. Cash flow doesn't like large bills. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well just to balance things out.

And people actually write stuff like that - it's estimated but when they read your meter they will adjust and you end up paying for it - so it's not like some big win.

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Actually, similar happened to me

Scottish Gas, this time, so same company.

Commercial premises in Edinburgh - we noticed (admittedly, as soon as the bill arrived, not 30 months later...) that our bills were massively over what they should be.

Turned out Scottish Gas were charging 25p/kWh (about twice what one would expect in a commercial premises with our usage of electricity).

We arranged to switch to another power company, but this was blocked because we were apparently still in contract with Scottish Gas.

They had, without our knowledge, entered us into a new supply contract at double the price of our old contract. They claim they had sent us a contract, and that having not received a reply, assumed that this was okay.... erm right, really? Anyway, they argued, and they only backed down after we made it quite clear we'd take legal action.

So - I can sympathise.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Think this bad - just wait until you get 'soft' Smartmeters along with Hotwater metering

Smartmeters come in many flavours - some have mechanical meters which are held to be the end-all of disputes whereas many others have 'soft' meters which can be reset by supply company computers!

Which would YOU choose!

Hot water metering is creeping in - most systems just measure water consumption and NOT whether the water is hot, cold or meets a minimum criteria.

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Anonymous Coward

British gas are complete and utter bastards.

incompetent as well, but still arrogant shite hawks. had a fucking "deemed" contract with the twats, they issued me with a fake bill of just over GBP 200 to stop me switching. fucked them off in the end.

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I had a house where I couldn't switch providers because of an old unpaid bill of £20.

every month a bill arrived addressed to FAO : Abbey National

turned out that three owners before me the owner had died and the house had been reposessed by abbey national.

the fun part was that without the bill being paid the power company wouldn't allow changes to the tariff or allow the change of supplier. And they wouldn't accept payment from me for the bill in question because the bill was in no way my responsibility. (nice little lock-in technique there)

That was 8 years ago, I bet the current owner still gets that bill monthly.

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Anonymous Coward

Taste of own medicine

I've been a customer of Alphadex since long, long before they were Alphadex. I signed up in 1998 when they were a really great start-up called DSVR.

Since those days they've been sold to company after company, each of which has progressively given less of a shit about the customers. This latest outfit, Alphadex, are the worst (imho).

One thing that they did to me, which I find quite ironic now given their treatment by BG, is to refer me to "debt collection agencies" before invoices were due. That is: an invoice would be raised, and the terms say 30 days. On the 1st day of that 30 days (not the 1st day after 30 days!), I would be referred to a debt collection agency. This would happen every time a domain needed renewing for example. Now if you know about those debt collection people, they are utter pests and quite hard to get rid of. To be fair (as if they deserve it), this might have been when Alphadex were still part of Thus, about a year or so ago. I see no signs of any improvement however. You can't even pay online for a domain renewal, you have to ring a phone number and actually speak to someone in order to pay.

Since the Reg's post yesterday I have begun moving what remains of my Alphadex-administered domains and a few small client websites away. I discovered in the process that they charge a £15 "admin fee" in order to unlock .com domains and issue an authorization code. Something that takes 2 seconds and is both free and automated at most places, even somewhere like Fasthosts. Lovely people... not. It's a pity as the DSVR tech people were extremely good, and very helpful, in the old days - I hope they've all found good jobs elsewhere!

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