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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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My daughter had an ongoing problem with her energy supply company.

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My daughter had an ongoing problem with her energy supply company. The gas meter was making terrible noises for several months, an appointment was made to take the meter out, replace it with a new one and perform tests on the meter to ascertain if it was faulty. Before the appointment date the meter actually stopped working and the gas company was called out on an emergency call. The gas supply was cut off and arrangements made for a new meter. Around 3.50pm an engineer from a company called Providor attended her home. He arrived with an attitude problem, telephoned his office and was shouting at a member of staff as to why he was told it was an emergency and he was due to finish work at 4.00pm and this job was going to take him about 45 minutes and was he going to get paid overtime. After some screaming and shouting and being told that the gas had to be cut off, it was late January, freezing weather and my daughter had a young baby and needed the gas back on to heat the house, he finally agredd to do the work. He fitted the new meter but used a lot of force, i;e; pushing, banging and shoving the meter to fit, including using abusive and foul language in the process, which my daughter thought was inappropriate. He then attempted to start the boiler but it would not start. He then took all his tools out to his van, came back in and started to fiddle with the boiler and got it to start. My daughter noticed a smell of gas, he said it was the left over gas after changing the meter and he left. My daughter locked the house up and came back over to my home where she and her baby was staying as the house was too cold to stay in. Approximately 20/30 minutes later her husband arrived home and she went over to see if the house was warm enough to go back to. As they opened the door the smell of gas was horendous. It was evident that there was a major gas leak. They immediately called the gas company and an engineer arrived very quickly. The gas was once again cut off and after checking this new engineer found that the gas valve in the boiler that the other engineer had tampered with was left fully open and causing a major gas leak. A complaint was raised with the energy supply company and the regional operations manager of the company who sent the first engineer out came down to see my daughter and I to take a statement as to what had happened. We were informed that the engineer was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. Over the last number of weeks we have had constant updates from the supply company and we have found out that this engineer had his employment terminated due to the severity of the incident. This company will not under any circumstances offer any form of financial compensation to my daughter and the engergy supply company has offered £60.00 by way of compensation. This is an insult and totally unacceptable. This engineer put my family's lives at risk, they could have been killed in their own home, the house could have blown up with them in it and taken neighbouring properties and persons with it. Could you please advise if my daughter has a case to take legal action againt either the supply company or the company that employed this engineer.. Basically the supply company is saying they are not responsible and the meter company is and the meter company is saying they are not responsbily the engergy supply company is. Please help and advise us, Thank you. P.S. the report on the original defective meter states that the meter was found to be so defective that it could not be examined for conformity with the standards prescribed by paragraph (1) (b) (i) of regulation 3 of the gas (Meters) regulations 1983.
Alice H : My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help with your question today.
Alice H : What is the actual "loss" that your daughter is claiming - apart from inconvenience?
JACUSTOMER-aq23rtut- :

Hi Alice, thanks for the response. If I fully explain what the reginal manager of the firm who sent the engineer down to change the meter told us, perhaps it will give you a better idea. He informed us that their employees are not allowed to adjust, tamper or tinker with a customers boiler. If after they have changed the meter and the boiler will not start, they have to inform the customer that they must get their own gas registered technician in to check the boiler, this engineer did not do that, he started to adjust mechanics within the boiler. They have to keep their equipment on site until the job is finished and use the approved tools to check that there are no leaks, he did not do this, he took all his tools back out to his van half way through the job. When my daughter told him that she could smell gas, he dismissed this as "overflow" from when he changed the meter, he did not check to verify if there was gas leaking, he was more interested in getting home rather than the safety of my daughter and her family. During the investigation that the company performed, he admitted that he did not do his job correctly and in his words, he was having a "bad day". What we are trying to get over to the supply company and the company who sent this engineer down is very simple. A qualified gas engineer, did not do his job properly, had an attitude problem on arrival at the property and left my daughters home with a major gas leak that could have potentially blown their home up and/or killed them in the process. All it needed was a something in the home to come on and ignite the gas that was filling their home or just spontanious combustion to have taken place and it is quite frightening to think what could have happened because a qualified gas engineer failed in his work ethics and did not perform the simple test of checking to see if that work he carried out, even though he was not qualified or authorised to do so by his company, was not leaking any gas into the customers home. We feel that they were extremely lucky to still be alive and still have a house to call home and nothing serious like their home expolding or they themselves being killed by the gas leak itself. It is not just a question of compensation for "inconvenience" it is a question of what could have happened to them by this engineers grevious errors, surely there must be some financial settle for compensation for what they went through. If the whole matter was serious enough for the company to terminate this engineers employment with them because of his failings on the job at my daughters home and the risk he put them to, surely an offer of compensation should be offered to my daughter. This is not a question of "cowboy builders" this is a registered gas engineer who failed misserably at his job and when you are talking of the potentially high risks that come with a supply of gas and the safety that should go with it, that was not handled correctly in my daughters case and potentially I could have lost my daughter, my son-in-law and my baby grandson due to the complete negligence of this engineers. We all still shudder when we think of what could have happened on that day. I hope I have given you a little bit more information to allow you to consider this matter and let us know if she has a case to take some form of legal action in this matter and if so what would be a suitable figure in financial compensation to settle this matter and quite frankly the £60.00 compensation offer by her energy supply company is a total insult and unsatisfactory. I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks, Sharen

Alice H and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

"For Alice H"

Not sure if I am using your site correctly, but can you confirm that you received my further information in relation to your question that you raised about more information

Hi thanks for the additional information. I can certainly see grounds for a complaint but in order to take legal action she would have to show a "loss". Legal action for stress and inconvenience would not result in much by way of compensation. So please could you confirm whether she has actually incurred any loss? A court or other tribunal will only compensate for loss incurred as opposed to compensation for what "could have"happened.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

"For Alice H"

Hi Alice, thanks for getting back to me. As this happened on a Sunday and my daughter thinking that it was the boiler that was not working called her own gas engineer who confirmed that he could not get to her till the following day, so she and her husband and baby came to stay with me for the day and overnight as they could not stay in a cold house with no heating. It was the following day when he arrived that he confirmed it was not the boilder but was in fact no gas getting through the meter as the meter was broken and not working and she had to call her gas supply company to replace the meter as a matter of urgency. A valve in the boiler had broken but he could not prove 100% that this failure was caused by the lack of pressure due to no gas coming throught meter. As he has been servicing my daughters system on-going for many years he has not as yet presented her with his bill for the call out and replacement valve but his inital estimate for the work was around £150.00. Obviously things escilated after this visit. I must admited I am a little disappointed by the fact that she would probably not receive any compensation for what this meter engineer did at her home. It seems a little unfair that he put my familys lives at risk and nothing can be done for them. Sharen

For the botched job there are probably grounds to claim breach of contract and negligence possibility also even defective product.The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (need to exercise reasonable care and skill) for example also comes to mind.
So you probably could make a claim and for the poor service that you have received a court or ombudsman would be very much in your daughters favour.
But the level of damages would be so small that you have to ask yourself whether the time, effort and cost is worth it.
I am sorry to say that where the claim is really only for stress and inconvieience the level of award would be small probably no more than a couple of hundred pounds.
I appreciate this is not the answer you are looking for but I have a duty to give you an honest and objective opinion and not to raise your hopes unnecessarily.
If regardless of this you wish to make a claim and see where this goes I can discuss the steps with your further.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

"For Alice H"

Hi Alice. Very much appreciate your honesty. It just seems so unfair. As you said, any form of litigation is going to be expensive, I know this as I have been a legal secretary for over 35 years, but dealing with matrimonial and probate work, so was a little unsure with respect to the matter at hand with my daughter. I will discuss with my daughter all the information you have supplied and ultimately it will be her choice as to what, if any action she is going to take. Many thanks for your advice and I shall get back to you in the next few days if I should need further advice on this matter after discussing it with my daughter in depth. Sharen

Of course that's fine. Please let me know how things are going.