# In credit

1. Dec 11, 2007

### wolram

Paying the electric bill, telephone bill by direct debit, i find i have over paid the electric company £270 and the telephone copmpany by £50, but can i get my money back, can i heck, they say they will knock it off my next bill and adjust the payments, funny they said that last time and the time before that, this time i am getting a bit angry, may be i will hold the meter reader hostage next time he calls.

2. Dec 12, 2007

### jim mcnamara

In Britain there must be a regulatory agency, because there are a several entities on your grid so there has to be a coordinating council. The "council's rules" are enforced on local entities like power resellers, generators, and distributors. Without that regulation you would not have a grid.

In the US these agencies are at the state (ie, New mexico or Maryland) level. You have "DNO's" which are regional. e.g. NIE or CE Electric UK. These guys have to report to a regulatory body or a council. I dunno enuff about British power to say what that is.
The onus is on you - find it. Report your problem. They should be paying you interest on that money at the least -- if you are in good credit standing and your DNO cannot/will not refund it. NB: This last statement based on general policy in North America.

PS: if you can tell your kWh rate: Is it blocked ( ie. x pennies for each kWh under 500, 2x for each kWh over 500)? How is it structured? Thanks.

PPS: hostage taking is a terrorist activity, you know. You could end up in solitary confinement in George's Pet Motel in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.... I hear waterboarding is a very unpleasant experience.

3. Dec 12, 2007

### mgb_phys

If you are only a few quid in credit it's fun to call them and wind them up. ie:
"If you are don't pay - I will have to force the extra electricity back down the wires"
"If you do not pay I will be forced to seize the power station"
"I don't want the money refunded - I demand that you deliver the extra electricity I paid for immediately"
Usually you are talking to a call centre in India so there isn't so much entertainment value - but sometimes you get a manager.....

Otherwise just threaten them with OFGEN or OFGAS or whatever it's called.
ps. A clever trick they pull, is that although they can deduct the amount instantly from your account, they refund you 6weeks later with a cheque in a cheap plain brown envelope that looks just like junk mail, no electric company logo or anything - I think they factor in a certain percentage just throwing it away unopened.

Last edited: Dec 12, 2007
4. Dec 12, 2007

### jim mcnamara

Pete - sounds like the voice of experience. Do penitentiaries in Britain have broadband or do you just use a crystal set and a typewriter?

5. Dec 12, 2007

### wolram

If i remember it is something like 15p for first 200kWh and then 11p for every kWh

We also have two meters one for hight time and one for low time.

6. Dec 13, 2007

### jim mcnamara

Those two meters are called TOU's: time of use meters.
Two usual ways to implement this: peak times from say 6:00am-9:00am and
and 5:00pm-9:00pm, else off peak. Or one simple peak defined to start sometime during the day e.g., 2:00pm - 9:00pm

Do you know which type is inflicted on you?

You have a reverse block rate - it penalizes conservation of electricity. Many places would try to encourage conservation with (using your blocks):
11p for first 200kWh and then 15p for every kWh.

Where I am -- a triple block rate
< 250 7.5 cents/kWh,
251-1000 7.9 cents
>700 8.8 cents

which encourages conservation. There are rate and consumption studies that show this type of block rate works to encourage reduced consumption.

7. Dec 13, 2007

### mgb_phys

I think you are assuming a degree of intelligence on the part of the electricity companies.
You also assume that their businesses is supplying electricity!
In fact it seems their business is entirely based on tricking people into swapping providers - and charging an admin fee for changing the account over.

8. Dec 13, 2007

### wolram

That is so true, nearly every week i have some mail with (swap to us we are cheaper)
blurb, if that were true after a couple of years swapping they would be paying me.

9. Dec 13, 2007

### turbo

I don't let any business have direct access to any of my accounts. They have to send me a paper bill, and I will withhold payment until just before it's due, so I get all the accrued interest (little as that might be). You might want to rescind their access to debit your account and ask for bills to be mailed to you so that you can review them before writing a check, so that you can catch these over-payments.

I found out that the company that supplies my propane had recently jacked up the price when they made an automatic delivery and tried to charge me $4.26/ gallon. I called around, and got some prices from other dealers, then called the supplier and told them that if they didn't cut the price by$1/gallon, they could come haul that big bulk tank out of here and credit me for the unused propane at the new higher rate. The manager called me back about an hour later and gave me a preferred bulk rate of \$3.28/gallon and sent a new bill at the lower rate. Close enough. If I had chosen their debit program, I certainly would not have had that leverage, though.

10. Dec 13, 2007

### jim mcnamara

turbo--
Sorry you live in Maine. Here in NM we pay ~2.35/gallon for retail propane. By the way, there is no real reason other than middleman greed for you to be paying that much.

The energy pricing guys at work keep tabs on all forms of energy. Right now wood pellets are by far and away a better deal for heating than retail propane - anywhere in the US.

11. Dec 13, 2007

### jim mcnamara

In front of me I have a study on retail electricity rates across the US. In states which adopted free market where everybody wheels and deals - like your mail - the rates were 15% higher than in those states with a regulated market.

PS: your kWh rates suck. Taking into account currency exchange, the rate you quoted is about 100% higher than the US average. Or is there VAT hiding in the wings somewhere? Embedded in your base charge?

12. Dec 13, 2007

### mgb_phys

There is VAT on energy (but at IIRC 8% rather than 17.5% for goods)
Generally in europe we pay about 2x as much for fuel/energy as the US - hence the smaller cars, public transport and double glazing!
I just moved to Canada and I am amazed how inefficent homes are compared to the UK.

13. Dec 13, 2007

### wolram

Also we have shoe box sized rooms, kittchens where you can cook, wash up and prep food without moving.

14. Dec 13, 2007

### jim mcnamara

And still have room left over to put out a tin o' meat for the cat.
Sounds like life in "Flat"land, to coin upon the title of another thread in PF discussions.

Size isn't everything.... um, sounds like a whole different discussion, that.

...But think of all the calories you save not having to move during hours of kitchen fun and frolic. Now if you could just eat your meal without moving at the end of all the no-moving, you'd have it made. Stability is a grace.

15. Dec 13, 2007

### turbo

We use the propane only for hot water and cooking, so gouging doesn't hurt us too badly. We heat with wood, and our niece's husband cuts firewood when his job at a paving company is shut down or slow, so things fit well. I have my own 8+ acre woodlot, a chainsaw, an ATV with a dump-body, a dump-trailer, and a wood splitter, but he's great with his prices, and he'll deliver at the drop of a hat whenever I've stacked the previous load and am ready for another. I'll take the free time and convenience of his service, with the opportunity to give him and his family some much-needed income.

One of my brothers-in-law has switched to wood pellets, but I am not going that way. It's more expensive, and the prices can be manipulated as easily as petro-fuels. On the other hand, if the economy goes south, there are tons of underemployed fellows with chain saws that can keep me in firewood at competitive prices, or I can take the time to stockpile my own.