Stay-at-home dad Docs Doherty says he’s had sleepless nights after British Gas accidentally broke into his home in a major billing mess.
The 38-year-old from Durham is not a British gas customer, but the energy giant has still forcibly entered his property.
Docks claims a representative of British Gas, with two sides loan of The collectors broke the lock of his flat last Wednesday.
He and his wife saw the workers walking away from their property, and went to ask them what was happening.
The couple were told that British Gas was trying to set up a prepayment meter Because he believed that the customer at the address owed the energy firm money.
If you are in debt to your energy company and cannot – or will not – pay your bill, the supplier is allowed to install a prepayment meter in your home.
This is to prevent you from running up a huge debt.
But his flat was wrongly recorded as the address of an entirely different person – who was in debt to the company.
Mr Doherty said: “We don’t feel safe at all, knowing someone can so easily walk in.
“You hear a car going by and you’re at the window, looking to see if it’s there again.
“We’re just on edge and can’t relax at all.”
The property is currently rented out by Docks to tenants but is part of a larger building that he owns and lives in.
He lives in half the property of his wife and two children, while the other part is divided into flats.
British Gas told The Sun that it had written to Docs’ flat’s address in May that it had applied for a warrant to replace the meter, with Docs claiming it had received no warnings.
This comes in the form of the number of houses The debt borrowers are facing is increasing their knocking on their doors.
Citizens Advisory warned that the number of customers contacted by borrowers on behalf of energy suppliers increased by a third in the past year.
A knock on the bailiff’s door could put more and more families at risk, as Six million households now owe their energy supplier,
Docs said he and his wife tried to go through British Gas for several days after the incident to see what had happened.
“On Wednesday, my wife spent four hours on hold on the phone that day and did not get an answer.
“On Thursday, she was on hold for another six hours until they” [British Gas] Told him they would call him back on Friday with more details.
“But he never got a call back, and spent four hours following him on Friday.”
Finally, a British Gas customer service assistant explained that their address was entered in error for a different British Gas customers account, and that they had corrected the error.
The couple was offered £100 in compensation.
“It won’t even cover a month’s energy bill, it’s a complete disgrace,” Dox said.
“What if it happens a second time?”
British Gas said: “We have spoken to Mr and Mrs Docherty to say we are deeply sorry for what has happened.
“There was an address mix of flats and this meant a trip to another house.
“We have amended our records to ensure that this does not happen again and will offer them compensation for the inconvenience caused.”
A spokesman for the Energy Ombudsman said: “In this case, it appears that the supplier applied for a warrant at the wrong address.
“This appears to be a system/human error and there is an obvious shortcoming.”
Explanation of your bailiff rights
Ofgem warned energy suppliers in 2018 that they would only have to force-install prepayment meters to recover debt as a last resort.
This was following a report that some suppliers were using this strategy more frequently.
If a customer does not agree to supply a prepayment meter, the supplier will need to obtain a warrant from a court to enter the customer’s property.
There are also certain rules on when they are allowed to enter your home – they cannot come between 9 pm and 6 am.
Just keep in mind that if you decide not to let the bailiff in, they can take things from outside your home, like your car, to pay off your debt.
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