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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter lives outside Alicante and last week had 3000 euros taken from her bank account to pay an electricity bill.
She has tried ringing her supplier but they just keep saying that is what she owed, the bill is from April until October. They will not come out and check the meter etc.
Last year she paid 2000 for the year.
According to her she owes about 1500 euros as she has a gadget bought in the UK to keep an eye on her bill and it tells her how much she owes.
Is there an ombudsman that she can call?
Thanks x
 

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My daughter lives outside Alicante and last week had 3000 euros taken from her bank account to pay an electricity bill.
She has tried ringing her supplier but they just keep saying that is what she owed, the bill is from April until October. They will not come out and check the meter etc.
Last year she paid 2000 for the year.
According to her she owes about 1500 euros as she has a gadget bought in the UK to keep an eye on her bill and it tells her how much she owes.
Is there an ombudsman that she can call?
Thanks x


This is like the Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK I think
Oficina Municipal de Información al Consumidor / Ayuntamiento de Alicante

And this is another place you might use for info
http://www.antes-de-comprar-ocu.com/products-and-services/derechos-del-consumidor/reclamar-como-consumidor/public

She might want to get in touch with the bank and cancel the standing order and / or ask them for advice...

Sue and Jo usually know what to do in these cases!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Pesky,

She went to her bank last week and arrived there at 8.30 and waited to see the chap she knows who speaks English.. my daughter does speak spanish but isn't fluent so thought the english speaker would be best to see, she had to leave after 45 minutes of waiting as she teaches english and her classes were to begin. The bank is in for a tongue thrashing when she does catch up... letting that amount out of her account without her say so and of course that put her in the red is just not on.
 

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My daughter lives outside Alicante and last week had 3000 euros taken from her bank account to pay an electricity bill.
She has tried ringing her supplier but they just keep saying that is what she owed, the bill is from April until October. They will not come out and check the meter etc.
Last year she paid 2000 for the year.
According to her she owes about 1500 euros as she has a gadget bought in the UK to keep an eye on her bill and it tells her how much she owes.
Is there an ombudsman that she can call?
Thanks x
Hi MaidenScotland.:)

It does seem an awful lot - do you know how much (potencia) your daughter has contracted? We have electric everything, pretty much, except for heating - so electric vitroceramica (hob), oven etc even some OH tools that draw 2kw...and we don't seem to have a problem. Where we live, you can't just draw as much simultaneous power as you like. If we go above the 4.6kw that we have contracted (by the way, this is 25amp limiter), then our fuses jump and we have to flip them up again. This happens once in a blue moon if I'm cooking using hob and oven, ironing and someone puts the kettle on all at the same time!!! ...but that hardly ever happens (I can only do so many things at once!!:rolleyes::))

So, the way out of this might be simpler than it first appears - on your daughter's bill, there will be a contracted level. By my reckoning, the amount they are charging at 11.5cents per kw is more than 5kw for every 24 hours of the day. In theory, if she has contracted 3.3 or 4.6 for example, it would therefore be impossible. Also, get her to take a day to read the meter at a given hour, and then same again the next day at the same hour. The more time she leaves (maybe a week) the more precise that daily average will be as she will use pretty much all the daily appliances during that time. This should tell her how many kw she uses on an average day.

The other thing she can do, perhaps when she goes shopping, or is out for the day, is flick the main fuse when she goes out to turn everything off in the house. Freezer contents should be OK for a few hours. When she comes back, check the meter again to ensure that it hasn't moved from a few hours prior. This should allow her to see if she has a leak - or should I say, if the power company have a leak - or even worse, god forbid, if someone is linking to her electricity.

Bottom line is, rather than think "ooh, that's a lot" - she should be in a position of knowing roughly how much she uses to give her strength of argument when dealing with the electricity company. We know we use about 450kw per month - obviously there are months of 500kw - but my OH would have alarm bells ringing immediately if a bill came in for, let's say, 980kw - as clearly this is not our usage trend. Sorry to be over-simplistic, but clearly he would know if he'd used some major appliance for a month to double our consumption, and if we didn't, then immediately this would tell us that something is wrong - rather than having to wait months to sort it out.

If you ask your daughter to do the above checks, especially the contracted power one (potencia), she might be in a position to get back to them and say "it's impossible for me to use this amount of energy as the number of days multiplied by 24 hours in the day, multiplied by the power I've contracted, does not give the number of kw you've charged me for".

Hopefully it will be that easy?!?!:rolleyes:

Good luck,
Tallulah.x:)
 

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Thanks Pesky,

She went to her bank last week and arrived there at 8.30 and waited to see the chap she knows who speaks English.. my daughter does speak spanish but isn't fluent so thought the english speaker would be best to see, she had to leave after 45 minutes of waiting as she teaches english and her classes were to begin. The bank is in for a tongue thrashing when she does catch up... letting that amount out of her account without her say so and of course that put her in the red is just not on.
I'm not sure what you mean about the bank shouldn't have let this happen.:confused: Do you mean because it was a large amount of money that isn't usually paid to this company that they should have questioned it? I know that our bank won't question any "strange activity" on our part. We paid a builder large amounts of cash for 3 months and asked if there would be any problems beforehand in the bank and they just looked at us ...:rolleyes:
Perhaps for being overdrawn, but with a standing order??? I don't know??
She could phone the bank to make an appointment.

:)She definitely needs to get on this forum and above all look at the teaching English stickie!!:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes she is puzzled the bank paid this amount out, she didn't have that amount in that account so by doing so she went in the red and occurred charges.
I believe she doesn't have an overdraft facility.
I always thought if you don't have enough money in your account then they will not pay a direct debit or standing order.
 

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Yes she is puzzled the bank paid this amount out, she didn't have that amount in that account so by doing so she went in the red and occurred charges.
I believe she doesn't have an overdraft facility.
I always thought if you don't have enough money in your account then they will not pay a direct debit or standing order.
So far as I'm aware, an "overdraft facility" in as much as we referred to it in the UK doesn't exist here. :confused2: There are facilities which people have and some are authorised temporary loans without advice - which one I suppose could refer to as an overdraft, but the norm of an overdraft as in the UK doesn't exist.

We went down that line with our bank here and what we got, which we much prefer, is a wonderful card which allows us to manage the "black" should the worst happen and leave a UK transfer a little too late. Basically, instead of letting the funds go down to dangerous levels, we can use this card for anything up to a fairly large amount, say get the shopping for a month or so, and for a small fee (about 8 euros) that total gets spread out over 3 to 6 months (your choice) at no further cost - ie no interest charges extra. So long as you keep the purchase paid for by that card reasonably high, so that the 8 euros isn't a silly percentage, then it's very effective and cheap finance for the short term...ie can be used like an overdraft.

Like France, I believe, talk of "red" is not good and whilst hugely dependant on each person's individual bank manager, who generally allows small "reds" over a small number of days, it is seen as a big no-no with large fees generated by letters to the client when one goes as little as 60-100euros in the red. We've just negotiated the return of over 200euros charges for my parents who live in the UK but have an account in Spain and had no idea that they were receiving overdrawn notices in Spanish at 30euros per month per letter. This went on for some time until my OH spoke with the bank manager to ask what kind of practice allows web interface in English to get the accounts open by non-resident clients, but communication thereafter all in Spanish. Cut a long story short, we got their money back (bank charges) but it was clear that in this case, 60euros over a two-week period in the red generates thereafter one letter per month at 30 euros a pop. Again in our case, it took the electricity company almost a year to supply us with a standard user supplied contract - until that point, we were using electricity on the "electricidad de obra". So no normal billing until the contract was in place. Therefore our first electricity bill was nearly 800 euros - we had nothing from the bank even though my OH and the manager communicate regularly. "Domicilizacion" has some rules which are not strictly applied in Spain:rolleyes: where you are supposed to receive the bill, I believe, 2 weeks before the money leaving your account. In our experience, the bill arrives a couple of days after the money's gone. Blame the post office, whatever - that's what happens. The good news is, again, proven by us where a payment was taken twice for the water installation to the house, the good thing about "Domicilizacion" is that you have quite a long time (not sure how long, but it's weeks generally) to return the bill (in internet banking terms it's simply to refuse payment) and bingo, the money is back in your account. We then immediately got hold of the water management company who were confused as to why the payment was taken twice - and were most apologetic - which we took with a pinch of salt, but were glad to have the power to hit the button and have the monies returned to us immediately.

All in all, it's a really good system and we find very real time, unlike the UK, when it comes to using debit cards, paying bills, etc - but having seen how people work with their little account books, I would say that internet banking is an absolute must if one is to have control of their finances in the Spanish system.

Clearly then, your daughter can return the amount requested by refusing to accept and having the money returned to her account - however, I would not do this lightly, without clarification with the company as obviously they could simply cut her supply if she does this....though legally I'm unsure they could do that.

Tally.x:)

ps - mix of this last post and the previous one (regarding her situation) she really needs to know as opposed to "think" it's too much, where she stands. What was the last bill reading, what is the meter reading now, how does the monthly usage compare with her last bill statistically? She should have all the information at hand - if there's nothing obvious, kw used same as last thereabouts, cost per kw same as last or couple of % more if there's been a rise - but she should be able to tell herself how much they should be billing her for, before she goes head to head with them.
 

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This is like the Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK I think
Oficina Municipal de Información al Consumidor / Ayuntamiento de Alicante

And this is another place you might use for info
http://www.antes-de-comprar-ocu.com/products-and-services/derechos-del-consumidor/reclamar-como-consumidor/public

She might want to get in touch with the bank and cancel the standing order and / or ask them for advice...

Sue and Jo usually know what to do in these cases!!

And Tally!!:eyebrows:
 

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Internet banking truly is a "must" with this crazy "suck out however much they want whenever they feel like" system. Having spent most of my life in the US, where many bills today are paid by credit card (where you get to see the *pending* charges before the money is released), and the rest are still paid by cheque(!!), even after a year living in Spain I'm still quite uncomfortable with having anything except purely regular payments automatically 'domiciled' from my bank account. (Even the purely regular payments, such as the fixed amount of monthly rent, could go wrong if someone messes up their math or keystrokes or information technology or ethics or ...).

I spoke with my bank some months ago about the bank's responsibility and capability in such cases, incidental rather than specifically about an error or a fraud from an otherwise approved transferer; the impression that I got was that you really are a bit on your own. If something is truly a fraud, and especially if you notice it and contact your bank within 48 hours, the bank might be able to block/reverse it ... but for almost anything else, I think you're truly at the mercy of the banks' whims as to whether they have any meaningful detection mechanism, and whether they really care to do anything about it.

If someone has a clip of the relevant Spanish law or regulation regarding what banks are legally required to do to protect us in such a situation, I for one would find it most interesting! (Spanish language okay).

Cheers,
Jay Libove
Barcelona
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The problem is no one will discuss it with her, she has the readings, this is just a bill from April until October of this year. When she makes a call to discuss the bill she is told.... no that is what you owe. There is no, we will come and check your meter etc. Last year for the full year she paid approx 2000 euros. It is not even if she is right or wrong about the bill it's the fact no one will discuss it, she does speak Spanish and if she gets stuck she has a Spanish friend who will make the call.....just someone saying they will look into it would be a help.
Post is delivered sporadically so she had no idea what her bill was before it was taken out of her account. Internet banking is fine if you have a good connection, she lives out in the countryside and there are days on end when she doesn't have a signal and days when it just goes off and on all day.
Many thanks for the help and suggestions given.
 

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If she can walk in to an office of the Electric utility company - preferably one of their own locations, or else one of their contracted representatives - my experience is that when you're in someone's face they usually find it easier to actually try to help you, than to sit there and take abuse deserved by someone else!

Since part of the problem appears to be that she has one 6-month lump bill, without detailed utilisation reports, her first question (via any contact channel, including the phone) ought to be simply for a replacement (or first, if the company doesn't usually provide) copy of the more detailed usage accounting, including when meter readings were actual vs estimated, over the period in question. This is information which the utility company pretty much has to provide, and shouldn't want to argue about.

With those greater details in hand, the analysis which excellent earlier posts have suggestion, then a contact with the Consumer protection agency of her region would be a great idea. Here in Catalunya that's the Agència Catalana del Consum at Web de l'Agència Catalana del Consum. I assume there must be something similar in her region.

Good luck!
Jay
Barcelona
 

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The problem is no one will discuss it with her, she has the readings, this is just a bill from April until October of this year. When she makes a call to discuss the bill she is told.... no that is what you owe. There is no, we will come and check your meter etc. Last year for the full year she paid approx 2000 euros. It is not even if she is right or wrong about the bill it's the fact no one will discuss it, she does speak Spanish and if she gets stuck she has a Spanish friend who will make the call.....just someone saying they will look into it would be a help.
Post is delivered sporadically so she had no idea what her bill was before it was taken out of her account. Internet banking is fine if you have a good connection, she lives out in the countryside and there are days on end when she doesn't have a signal and days when it just goes off and on all day.
Many thanks for the help and suggestions given.
Hi,
Who's she with?

I'm fairly sure that if she is armed with the information, and her metered consumption is, let's say €1200 for the 6 months based on Kw the meter says she used, they will not ignore that. So clearly this is not the contention.

What, as she has all the readings, should the bill have been? - or is the bill she has also calculated correct, but she is saying that she "couldn't have used that much" or some such, making them less interested in looking for earthing leaks, neighbour theft etc., etc.

The startig point must be their reading minus the last reading. If these do not agree (her readings V. their's) they won't simply ignore her.

I phoned my company with a similar issue (the now famous Estimated month). Only when I presented them with the facts - i.e. they knew I was able to argue the case based on facts and my readings of their equipment, and they simply re-submitted the bill with my reading.

You're not really telling us what the contentious issue is. Is she in pocession of the actual calculations showing that they overcharged her - or is she simply saying "but it can't be that much!" ?

Xose
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes she has worked out what she owes, she has done the readings and the calculations, but no one listens, she has worked out that she owes 1500 euros.
Getting to her nearest electricity office is something she will just have to manage to do, but it is not easy as you will all know, she works and she has 3 children at school, who all start and finish at different times so her time is at a premium, but she cannot afford to loose 1500 euros.
 

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Yes she has worked out what she owes, she has done the readings and the calculations, but no one listens, she has worked out that she owes 1500 euros.
Getting to her nearest electricity office is something she will just have to manage to do, but it is not easy as you will all know, she works and she has 3 children at school, who all start and finish at different times so her time is at a premium, but she cannot afford to loose 1500 euros.
That sounds incredible - the "no one listens" bit. Meter readers make mistakes (and they know that!!)

Has she told them that te meter reader has made a mistake and that the reading is XXXXXX ?

She needs to also ask them for a "modelo de reclamaciones".

Here's abit about Andalucia where people were making claims that the Elec company were charging Jan 09 rates for Dec 08 usage. A big complaint all over as I recall. The following text says that she needs to ask them for a Modelo de reclamacion and then go to their office to file it officially. Hopefully, once she asks them for this on the phone, they might take more notice of her claim which, having read the meter herself and seen a clear error, is not the same as the above mention legal issue of charging increased rates in Jan for Dec usage.... her case is a straight forward case of wrongful charge and thus, much more a case of them ignoring her than debating what is or isn't legal.

Hope she manages to convince them that they're on to a looser and she isn't about to drop this and wait for the next 6 months to be free whilst she subs their cashflow.


La Oficina Municipal de Información al Consumidor (OMIC) está atendiendo en los últimos días un gran número de consultas de los consumidores relativas a la facturación por consumos eléctricos de la compañía eléctrica Sevillana-Endesa, motivadas por la aplicación a consumos realizados en el mes de diciembre de la tarifa aprobada en enero de 2009, con el consiguiente perjuicio económico para los clientes.


Los consumidores están acudiendo a la OMIC porque, al parecer, Sevillana-Endesa los remite a esta Oficina municipal, cuando la reclamación debe plantearse ante la propia compañía suministradora, como ocurre con todas las reclamaciones de los consumidores.

En este sentido, desde la OMIC se quiere aclarar que, conforme a lo establecido en la Ley 13/2003, de 17 de Diciembre, de Defensa y Protección de los Consumidores y Usuarios en Andalucía, y en el Decreto 72/2008, de 4 de Marzo, por el que se regulan las hojas de quejas y reclamaciones en Andalucía, “las reclamaciones deben presentarse en el modelo oficial de hojas de reclamaciones en el establecimiento objeto de la queja o reclamación”, es decir, en las Oficinas de la Compañía Sevillana-Endesa sitas en la Avenida del Cisne.
 

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She can't afford to drop it so she will plod on the good thing is she is like a dog with a bone and won't give up without a fight.
Thanks again.
If they ignore her requests to check the meter, cant she issue a denuncia against the company.

Also, has she tried turning absolutely everything off in the house and then checking the meter to make sure someone else hasnt cut into her supply?
 
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