Healy Group spared soaring gas charges

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British gas, Contract

Healy Group spared soaring gas charges
A multiple operator that faced massive gas bill hikes after changing supplier following a "cold call" from a utilities agent is set to save around...

A multiple operator that faced massive gas bill hikes after changing supplier following a "cold call" from a utilities agent is set to save around £16,000 a year after the MA intervened.

The Healy Group was lumped with a flat rate of 4.4p per unit when company partner Kevin Healy switched to Elf Business Energy after agreeing a "verbal contract" with a utilities agent.

It wouldn't have happened without the intervention of the Morning Advertiser and Energywatch​Group partner Marion Healy.

He claims the saleswoman said the switch would mean lower bills across the group's 16 leased pubs in south-east England.

But the average rise was 150% - and one pub faced a 300% hike.

Elf originally refused to change the rates because a verbal agreement was made.

But the company agreed to lower prices after the MA told the supplier of Healy Group's plight. The group has also been allowed to return to its previous suppliers if it was under contract to them when the agreement to switch was made.

The operator stayed with Elf at three pubs, and secured a rate of 3.7p per unit - a saving of 16%.

Healy Group signed two-year contracts with British Gas and Powergen for the other pubs, with rates varying from 2.4p to 2.8p - a saving of up to 45%.

Group partner Marion Healy said the new rates would mean an average saving of around £1,000 per pub per year.

She said: "It wouldn't have happened without the intervention of the Morning Advertiser and Energywatch - the energy watchdog - which gave me the idea to contact my trade paper."

Marion added: "The problem comes from when you don't have to sign anything. Hopefully, businesses will stop using these verbal agreements."

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Your CommentsDavid Pott​ via email, 09/08/2006We had no end of trouble with British Gas; we took over this pub just under twelve months ago. The previous tenant had been given notice to quit and understandably was pretty unhelpful so beyond the broadest terms we had no real idea of our energy requirements.

With that in mind we decided to stay with the current energy suppliers on a temporary basis until we had enough usage information to enable us to ask for quotes from other suppliers.

We had the usual cold calls from it seemed like every energy provider in the UK; we told them all we had appointed a consultant to monitor our usage.

Last October a letter arrived from British Gas saying that I had made a verbal agreement. After wasting hours hanging on while I was passed from department to department someone at last admitted that I had never made any agreement with them.

A couple of months ago we appointed a gas supplier and waited for the changeover to take place.

Last week we got a call from our new supplier saying British Gas wouldn't release us. The usual hanging on the phone to be eventually informed we had a three year contract with them...finally got hold of someone who could think for themselves and we were told that they had made a mistake and we were now free to switch.

To top it all today a letter from British Gas about electricity saying if they don' t hear from us in 28 days they will begin to transfer our electricity to British Gas...luckily my wife managed to get through to the same person that ensured our gas switch went ahead to cancel the attempt at an underhand transfer of our electricity supply.

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