Back Billing Rules

Anyone had experience of Back Billing Rules?
Bulb cannot charge you for any correction in your bills if you have had only had estimates and no readings or correct bills over 12 months. They are only allowed to charge for 12 months anything before this has to be cancelled. This Ofgem, Government law passed May 2018. I had estimates for 2 1/2 years, paid on direct debit and now have a massive bill as they have only billed for estimates all the time I have been with them, I am presently trying to deal with them, but keep getting fobbed off. Just wondered if anyone else had or was experiencing the same as me? My so called smart meter, has been dumb, it was never activated until last month when the first person I have ever seen representing bulb came and read the meter.

I dont think it is quite as you say. Have you seen asked to supply Meter readings ? If you have and have not provided them or given a reason as to why you could not provide them I think they can back bill you

From you message you have been sent estimated bills and no doubt they would ask for a meter reading to ensure your bill is accurate

Hey @Elphaborough

The statement you received was for 17/10/20 - 16/05/21, so this isn’t a back bill. It was just a bill using your most up to date reading since the estimates which caused a large jump.

A back bill is a catch-up bill sent by a gas or electricity supplier when you have not been correctly charged for your energy use. If you used more gas or electricity than we originally thought, we send you a bill to correct this. You cannot be charged for gas or electricity used more than 12 months ago if you have not been correctly billed by a supplier, as long as they were mistakes made by the supplier and not you as the customer. This is what the write off credit corrects to ensure it falls in line with the regulations.

This link also helps explain backbilling:

You submitted a reading to us in 31/01/19 and then we didn’t get any until the meter connected in 17/11/20. It looks as though the reading you first submitted you read incorrectly though- I’ve replied to your email to take it from there.

– H :bulb:

OFGEM’s Page on Back Billing:

www . ofgem . gov . uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/who-contact-if-its-difficult-paying-energy-bills/energy-back-billing-guide-your-rights

My meter was installed by my previous supplier, it is I think one of the 1st series, it was only activated by them. I then changed to Bulb and no one read my meter. I myself had to send an estimate agreed on by them both as neither bulb or Eon would come out to read it. The meter then became a ‘dumb’ meter. (Did not transfer to Bulb). I have had estimates since the very beginning. Dec.2018, I could never manage to read it either, not set up properly. I was then flooded and the house was barely in use for a few months. I continued to pay direct debits and they just kept estimating. No matter how many times I asked for someone to read my meter, no one came, I couldn’t read it. They even put me on a list of persons needing help, saying they would read it at least every 3 months. This still didn’t happen. I have continually asked for a correct reading to obtain a correct bill. Then in April 2021 a meter reader appeared and I am certain he activated the meter then and took a reading, he also showed my partner how to read it. It was easy and registering totally different than ever when I had tried to before. So I know it was suddenly different. Then out of the blue came bills saying the meter had been read by myself, or smart recording or in person, back to Oct. 2020. This is not true. How could they? So cramming a bill for over £7000 in the last 6 months, the best yet £5000 of that just for Oct.2020! So you can imagine how I freaked out.

The meter was not read/connected in November 2020 no one came or activated it. Later and throughout the next couple of months I was out of the country. If I had a statement or any reading with such a large bill as you sent…back dated from May this year, but with December 4th.2020 heading…I would have been contacting you straight away as I am doing now. I do not get paper bills I get emails with estimated bills. I have never refused entry, if not here someone would have been available to let a meter reader in if requested. I am the one who kept asking for it to be read and was always fobbed off.

The meter has been a ‘dumb’ meter not connected to Bulb since they took over my supply. It was put in by my previous supplier. I have repeatedly asked and have correspondence of doing so for someone to read it. As it was not connected I could not read it either. No one could .I must admit I didn’t understand how it worked, but now it has been activated I can read it, it was impossible before. They even promised to read it at least once every 3 months as I am over 65. That never happened.

From Your posts it is unclear as to why the bill for £5000 or £7000 was for. You say you changed from EON but from your post it appear that they may have used an Estimate for your final bill so there may be billing problems going back to then but they would not normally switch you until any money is still owing is paid,

Did you send a final meter reading when you switched from Eon and did you get aa final bill., If you did was that bill in your view correct ?

Bulb appear to believe that you sent them a meter reading which presumably triggered an amended bill

It is unclear as to whether you are disputing the electric or gas or both but the amounts you are being billed for does not seem correct for about 2.5 years particularly as they have been sending you estimated bills which you have presumably paid

Clearly Bulb are not on in compliance with the Consumer rights act and appear to have made little effort to resolve the issue

The first thing to do if you have not done so is to Invoke Bulbs Formal Complains procedure. They are required to have one. They should then deal with this dispute in a timely manner

If this fails to resolve it the next step is to take you complaint to OFGEM. Their web site will tell you how to do that

If the meter was installed by your previous supplier it probably was a “smets1” which would have become “dumb” when you joined bulb.(They’re just getting them connected to the smart network now".
“How to read your meter” plenty advice in the help section.
Meter readers are not employed by the energy firms directly(no-one employs meter readers now) They are read by a third party that pass the readings on to bulb. Having said that the communication between bulb and the meter reading firm leaves a lot to be desired.
You should have a meter reader visit your premises at least once a year by law(more to make sure you haven’t been fiddling the meter than anything else),Anyone stupid enough to try fiddling a gas meter deserves to be decorating the ceiling,anyway I digress, as for estimated readings when you were abroad bulb would not have known that(how could they?) and billed you as if you were still in situ.
Seems like your meter became joined to the “smart” network in Oct and the meter reader activaed it by waking it up.
Your bills are probably consolidated from when you joined bulb, but I’m afraid I can’t help you there, you will have to take that up with bulb direct(good luck with that)
Anyway enough of me boring the pants off you, hope this gives you some insight

Thank you for that information I am dealing with someone from bulb but do not think it has escalated far, maybe only general help. I feel like I am being ‘fobbed’ off. With regard to my meter it was newly installed by Eon Oct/Nov 2018. I have the ticket for installation with date and reading from old meter and the new one which was zero. Plus yes my account was fully settled with Eon I did not have any arrears or balance to transfer to Bulb. It was at least 3 months until they started with estimates and during that time I paid by direct debit monthly.

Thank you for your reply and it is helpful. They definitely have not read the meter within any 12 month period. Plus the meter reader didn’t come until April this year and all of a sudden my bills are being back dated to a date in October 2020. Funny but no one could have read the meter then as not activated. I did want to find out how they activate a ‘dumb’ meter? Manually? If they could do it remotely why not before? If they have these supposed readings from Oct.2020, why out of the blue did they send a meter reader in April this year. Why was my previous bill/estimate a statement for October 2020, then changed as of a date I know nothing about 4th.Dec.2020? Even if they try to say remotely activated in Oct. last, that’s rubbish. I would seriously think they needed to read it and be present which is what I have been asking for over 2 years. Just wondering as well. I read about signal strength? I live in an old house the walls are 3ft. thick and the meter is in a small cellar area. Thanks again for your advice.

If you or a friend have a mobile phone you can check the signal strengh, as old smets1 meters worked by mobile signal.
It is possible that the meter began “talking” to bulb briefly in Oct and then “fell-off” the network again, and they have backdated the bills from when the meter reader came(takes about a week for his readings to go onto the system)to the last reading they had.