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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I had a dispute with e.on about what feed-in-tariff (FIT) I

Resolved Question:

I had a dispute with e.on about what feed-in-tariff (FIT) I should be on. As part of that dispute, they lied to the ombudsman who then closed the case. When I told e.on I had emailed DECC (government department), I got a phone call from e.on to say that they had found a way of resolving the dispute and putting me on the higher rate. The next day, they send me s contract which clearly stated I was on the higher rate for the duration of of the contract (25 years).
I then agreed with the solar panel fitting company to drop my claim for loss if earning for not being on the higher rate because I had been put on the higher rate. I had to do this to get a letter from them to say I owned the panels so that e.on would pay me.
A year later I got my bill (which was wrong and missed out a year) but badivcalky , e.on paid me the higher rate for 29 days in march 2012, and then the lower rate, and actually paid me at the lower rate for the date they sent me the contract stating I was on the higher rate! (3oct 2012).
I am claiming e.on is in breech of contract and want to sue them for loss if earnings (about £27,000! The ombudsman said they had numberous failures in customer service and only wanted them to pay me £150 compensation. They made it clear that they did not consider if e.on was in breech of contract as they do not consider legal matters, and I would need to pursue this separately.
Can I make this claim? i would need to do it without representation. can I do it in small claims court?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Alex Watts :

To be clear they made an offer in writing in terms of the higher rate AND they paid you this for a period of time?

Alex Watts :

For now just please let me know whether you have been through their formal complaints procedure?

Customer:

No, they made me an offer in writing for the higher rate for the duration of the contract, This is apparently the same contract that they sent to people who are on the higher rate for 25 years. What I was going to say was that the govenment apparently made an exception whereby people who were registered after March 2 would be paid at the higher rate for that month and then be at the lower rate. Through the Ombusdman, they explained that they sent a letter to everyone with the contract stating that the higher rate was only for that month and then the contract would revert to the lower rate and specified the rate. They used the same contract but with the covering letter that limited the time on the higher rate. The Ombusdsman said that it was a shortfall in customer service that they did not send me the letter stating the higher rate was limited, and the first I heard of it was in the complaints process. I say that they entered into a verbal contract for the higher rate. Regardless of the phone call, I would also say that they entered into a written contract for the higher rate because this was the same as the other contracts for the 25 years and they did not have anything to state that the contract that they entered into was for a limited time at the higher rate.

Customer:

If I had known that it was a limited time at the higher rate, I would not have stopped my complaint about E.ON to DECC, and I would not have agreed to not pursue losses from not being at the higher rate from the other company. Effectively, telling me that I was at the higher rate stopped me pursuing the complaint further.

Customer:

They sent me the contract 3 Oct, 2012 stating I was on the higher rate, however, they did not pay me at the higher rate for that time. They paid me for the higher rate for March 2012, and then the lower rate from April, 2012, so I was actually being paid at the lower rate at the time they sent me the contract that sated I was on the higher rate.

Customer:

So, in my eyes, I entered into a contract with them to be paid at the higher rate for the duration of the contract and deem them to be in breech of their contract by only paying me the lower rate.

Customer:

Yes, I have been through the formal complaints procedure with E.ON and then the Ombudsman. I had a previous complaint with them about the registration of my application, and the Ombudsman did not look into it because E.ON lied to them. When I produced hard evidence of this from E.ON's IT department, E.ON was keen to shut me up and end the complaint. I asked the Ombudsm and specifically to look at whether E.ON was in breech of contract, but they said they couldn't. As some of the disagreement was over what was said to me on the phone, I asked them to look at if there were other complaints about the person i spoke to (because I knew that there were a lot of complaints), but they said that was not in their remit to look at individual employees in the company. I also asked them to consider if using the small print in the middle of the terms and conditions adheres to OFGEM's requirement to give important information appropriate prominence (ie the fact that the higher rate was for a limited time), but they did not comment on whether E.ON adhered to this at all. They spend the time investigating my original complaint, and found E.ON to have made a catalogue of errors, but the Ombudsman's conclusions had a shocking number of incorrect facts (ie dates, and confusing the bill a year later with the contract, etc). However, I am not allowed to appeal. I dont know if i can complain. I have asked them three times to correct the facts (in case I need it to go to court), and am still waiting for this (even though I started the Ombudsman's complaint at the end of 2013!).

Customer:

I have just lost everything I wrote!

Customer:

Yes, they had a clear offer in writing for the higher rate, which was the same contract they sent to everyone on the higher rate for 25 years (see attached).

Alex Watts :

Ok - then it sounds like you have a claim for breach of contract.

Alex Watts :

They offered the higher rate, you accepted - thereby a contract

Alex Watts :

You need to write and set out your losses and request a payment within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.



If they do not pay you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk or by completing form N1 http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.



The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.



If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation. If the claim is for more then £10,000 as I understand that it is, you will need representation for the trial as it would be a multi track trial as it is over £25,000 and special rules and cost consequences if you lose apply.



Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

I have just lost everything I have written, again! I dont think this site likes us to hit 'return' for a new paragraph! ...Yes, they made an offer in writing for the higher rate for the duration of the contract (see attached) which was the same contract they sent to everyone on the higher rate for 25 years. I found out in the complaints procedure that for people who registered after March 2, 2012, they were paid on the higher rate for that March and then the lower rate, except they sent a covering letter with the contract to explain that the higher rate was for a month and then it would drop to the lower rate, and specified the rate. I never got that letter or any mention of the higher rate being for a limited time, and I believed that I had entered into a contract with them for the higher rate for the 25 years. As a result, I stopped pursuing my previous complaint with E.ON (the contract was the resolution to the previous complaint about their registration process, as my panels were fitted before the deadline but E.ON did not register me before the deadline). As a result I also dropped my claim for loss of earnings from the solar panel company because i believed I was on the higher rate. ...They sent me the FIT contract on 3 October, 2012, but only paid me at the higher rate for March , 2012, and so actually only paid me at the lower rate when they sent me the contract stating i was on the higher rate. I discovered this on my bill in Nov 2013 (which was also wrong and did not account for a year).... I went through the formal complaints procedure once and then the Ombudsman did not pursue it because E.ON lied to them. After I got the bill in Nov 2013, I put in a complaint about breech of contract and that they cant just change a contract 9and especially without telling the person) went through E.ON's procedure (and they said they couldn't do anything about it) and then the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman said they dont look at whether the company is in breech of contract as that is a legal matter (I would have thought they would make sure the companies are adhering to the law). They said they would not investigate if the person who I spoke to on the phone who sent me the contract had lots of complaints about her (I know there were). I also asked them to look at whether E.ON's claims that because it says in the small print that the rate paid would be varied to match the website figures (I took this to mean that the rate varied and went up by PRI, and those figures that would be paid would be on the website for each year). I did not think that if E.ON the way E.ON was interpreting this fitted with Ofgem's requirements that they give important information appropriate prominence. The Ombudsman just said that there was a catalogue of poor customer care, including not sending me the letter with the contract to state that the higher rate was limited and to which rate I would revert. I claim that because they never sent me a letter or any information ever to state that the higher rate was limited or what lower rate I would be put onto, that they did enter into a contract to pay me at the higher rate. The Ombudsman spend most of the time investigating the previous complaint, and still has a massive catalogue of errors in their provisional and final statements (ie incorrect dates and confusing the bill with the contract). I have ask them to give me statements with the correct factual information, and am still waiting for this (a

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s I am likely to need this in court). I cant appeal the Ombudmans decision, but they said that I should take it up further (ie in court) if I wanted to. Sigh.

Alex Watts :

Yes you are likely to need all your documents for Court.

Alex Watts :

I am sure the Defendant would also want the Ombudsman decision in the Court bundle

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Customer:

That is really helpful! I am a bit worried about the possible costs of going through court though, as this is just me, and i would be looking to represent myself as I cant afford a barrister and definitely would not be able to afford their barristers costs too! I am thinking that I can only proceed if this is water tight. Based on the contract I entered into with them, can they say, oh we sent you the wrong covering letter and we should have sent you one that said it was only for a limited period of time and then on the lower rate? Can you enter into a contract and think what is says on paper is correct but then be wrong and actually have a contract for figures you know nothing about? In that case it would be my word (and subsequent actions that showed i believed I was on the higher rate for the duration against her word (who apparently has lots of customer complaints against her). The ombudsman said that EON did not have to put me on the higher rate, but they did, and they said it was in resolution to my complaint. would this matter?

Customer:

If there is a chance I could lose in court, I cant afford to risk it. Could I ask them in writing as you said If they say they will contest it, could I then send them a revised offer for £999.99 and go through small claims court?... Just a thought...

Alex Watts :

You can claim for £10,000 exactly.

Alex Watts :

Its if its £10,001 its not a small claim

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Customer:

Yeah. Can I ask them initially for the full amount, and then reduce the amount i am claiming to £10,000 if I need to go to court?

Customer:

Would you risk going to the muti track court in this case? (I know you can't give advise, I just want to get a good idea over whether it woud be risky in this situation).

Alex Watts :

Yes you can do that if you wish

Alex Watts :

I think you have a decent case but litigation is never certain

Customer:

Finally, are there any points I should make in my letter to them to make a strong case?... keep it simple and just say breech of written contract? Do I mention the phone call where she told me she had found a way of getting me on the higher rate as a resolution to my previous complaint?

Customer:

Can I say something along the lines of 'I have been legally advised that claiming that you had poor customer care and should have sent a letter explaining that the higher rate was only for 29 days and then I would be on a specified lower rate, means that you did not enter into a contract with me under those terms because you did not inform me and I had no knowledge of this. One can not enter into terms of a contract that only one party is aware of. The contract that you entered into is what is stated in the contract and is for the higher rate for 25 years. You paid me at the lower rate when you sent out the contract on 3 Oct 2012 in spite of the contract saying I was on the higher rate.

Alex Watts :

Well its breach of contract.

Alex Watts :

They made an offer, you accepted

Alex Watts :

That is it

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Customer:

Oh, so I just say that and have a copy of the contact. Would it be wise to counter their possible arguments? I guess what might be helpful is to see some samples of what to say. Do you know of any website? Or what is the technical term for that type of letter so I can google it to see how people put things?

Alex Watts : A letter is the contract, they offered a higher rate, paid you and you accepted.
Alex Watts : That in itself is telling
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