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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have just been told on the phone by British Gas that due

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I have just been told on the phone by British Gas that due to a late bill payment I have been put on the list for bad payers and that will affect my credit rating for the next 6 years. Is it possible to get this rating against me deleted?

These are the circumstances:- In 2010 we had a tenant in our rental property. I paid the utility bills and the tenant then paid me. So the gas and electricity account were in my name. At that time I was living in Papua New Guinea, working as a tribal translator missionary. We were there from 1988 to Sept 2012.

I was never made aware that there was any outstanding bill from British Gas up until Nov 2013. At that time I was sent an unpaid bill from 2010. I then paid it online like I do with all bills within a week of receiving the bill. I also questioned as to why it took 3 years for them to contact me.

I am told now because it was a late payment (3 years !!!) I will be penalised by being put on the bad credit list. Under these unusual circumstances, I can't believe British Gas would be so dogmatic as to brush any common sense explanation under the carpet, and slap this judgement on me. I did pay the bill promptly upon receipt, which would normally not be classed as a late payment. Why would it be my fault when they took so long to contact me??

So is it possible to get this rating against me deleted? by the court or whoever?

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

I presume you don't deny that you owed the money at that time?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't deny I owed the money because I was sent an unpaid bill. The important thing is that I didn't know I owed it until I was informed in November. I have had many utility bills since 2010 both for my own house and the rental property and all have been paid on time.


In late 2010 I transferred all utility bills from myself to the tenant. Maybe there was some confusion at British Gas and they just found out now in Nov 2013 that there was an unpaid bill and they contacted me!!

How were you paying normally?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Online banking

Thanks for the information and the time.

I am sorry but I cannot give you good news then. I’m afraid you are in difficulty here.

Once the bill has been raised by British Gas or any other utility company, the onus is on the person whose name the account is in to pay the bill.

If that person does not live at the property or as in another country for whatever reason they are expected to make alternative arrangements for bills to be paid.

The fact remains that the bill was paid late and therefore this will show as a default on your credit history.

However, if this was some years ago, it may well be on the way to being removed.

The only way you can get this default removed is if you can prove that they did not send you the bill for any reason, not that you did not get it.

They are not under any duty to keep sending reminders.

I agree with you completely common sense should prevail, however, these matters are dealt with by computers and computers do not have common sense or a brain.

You can try appealing in writing not on the telephone to British Gas better nature, based upon the circumstances as to why you did not get the bill and if that fails, appealing to the energy regulator,

If those two avenues fail, then you are faced with a court application which would be by no means quick, cheap or risk-free.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

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