Questions of Cash: Debt collectors chased bill that arrived four years too late
Friday 25 January 2013
Q. I have just received a bill for over £300 from British Gas, after I was initially contacted by a debt collection agency. The bill was for an eight-month period in 2008, for an address where I was a tenant. This is the first I heard of the bill. I can no longer recall who the energy supplier was, but I remember organising a final payment over the phone after I left the property. My bank account shows that I paid £30.97 to British Gas just after I left the property. The bill was dated November 2012 and based entirely on estimated readings. RC, Glasgow.
A. British Gas accepts that it was wrong to bill you four years after you left the property. Apparently the problem relates to the supply of electricity – you bought both gas and electricity from British Gas's Scottish Gas division. The account for this was not set up properly by British Gas. As a result, British Gas failed to bill you for the electricity that you used while living there.
This error was only recognised by British Gas in November last year, leading to a bill being sent to the address held by the company as your forwarding address. As you have since moved again, you did not receive this bill, nor the subsequent reminders. The outstanding account was then passed to a debt collection agency for recovery.
A spokeswoman for British Gas says: "The bill for £305.36 should not have been generated due to the delay in billing the account. It has therefore been withdrawn in full and we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that [the reader's] credit file has not been affected."
Q. I have been a Scottish Power customer for electricity provision for over 30 years, but recently decided to switch supply following further cost increases. I was aware that the tariff I was on attracted a £30 cancellation fee. However, I had received a letter from the company advising customers that should they choose to switch supplier before 3 December 2012, no cancellation fees would be applied. My transfer of supplier occurred on 22 November 2012.
I was subsequently called by a Scottish Power representative attempting to coax me back and he advised me that I would be charged a cancellation fee. He was unaware of the letter. I emailed Scottish Power and was told there would not be a cancellation fee. A few weeks later I received a final account from Scottish Power, which applied a cancellation charge of £30.64. I then phoned Scottish Power and was assured I would receive a cheque refunding the cancellation charge. I have heard no more since. RM, West Lothian.
A. Scottish Power apologises and says that your difficulties were caused by "an administration error". It has now processed the repayment of the cancellation charge.
Q. I have two private pensions and will soon be getting the state pension. One of the private pensions is quite large and paid monthly. The other is much smaller and paid annually, at a thousand pounds a time. It would suit me if this was turned into a lump sum payment. But when my private pensions were first paid in 2008, I took the maximum I was allowed – £14,353 – as a lump sum. Is there any way that I can now obtain a further lump sum from the annuities I receive from my private pensions? IC, by email.
A. HMRC stipulates that most of a pension must be paid as income, not in cash. Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at the advisers Hargreaves Lansdown, says: "HMRC wouldn't want the money paid as a lump sum as it would breach the 75 per cent as income rule. The only way around this would be to use the flexible drawdown rules allowing surplus pension rights to be paid as a lump sum only after the individual had secured for themselves a guaranteed income of at least £20,000 a year." A detailed explanation of the flexible drawdown rules is published on the HMRC website, at www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/rpsmmanual/rpsm09103590.htm.
Q. My daughter has a Bank of Ireland account in the Republic of Ireland, enabling her to make payments easily across the eurozone. She recent issued an instruction for an electronic transfer to be made for €2,000, stipulating a date in advance for the payment to be made. Instead the payment was made by a banker's draft. The recipient's bank treated the payment as if it were made by personal cheque and refused to show it as cleared for several days. This caused my daughter severe difficulties. Can you find out why the transfer was made by banker's draft, when it was instructed for payment electronically? We want to avoid the problem happening again and we don't understand the explanation given by the branch. RS, Northern Ireland.
A. You may have been confused by the different procedures adopted in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, because of what the bank describes as "jurisdictional differences". A spokeswoman for the bank says: "There are a number of different ways to effect such a transfer and we would normally encourage customers to use our online banking facility, which is also available in the branch.
The other method that is used in-branch is the 'interpay', which is used to transfer funds to a third party account of another bank. This is done in the branch, is only available to customers who wish to transfer in excess of €3,000 and is charged at 0.75 per cent of the value per transaction. An interpay transfer can take up to three days to reach a beneficiary account. A [banker's] draft is an unusual method to use as it goes through the same clearing cycle as a cheque and therefore can take several days before the funds are cleared in the third-party account." Your daughter has now opened an internet bank account, which should prevent the problem recurring.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
How couples can protect their financial interests when cohabiting
Authorities failing in hunt for 'most wanted' tax dodgers who owe HMRC £844m
Child Maintenance Service to replace Child Support Agency - but is it better?
A student's guide to financial survival: You don't have to drown in debt at university
Bargain Hunter: Kit yourself out in sports gear - at a healthy discount of up to 75%
- 1 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 4 Homer Simpson takes the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he does
- 5 Hello Kitty is not a cat after all
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...
£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...
£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony