Questions of Cash – May 2016

Posted on June 8, 2016 · Posted in The Independent

Q. When we bought our house several years ago we had an underground LPG [liquid petroleum gas] tank installed.  We purchased our own tank rather than rent one to avoid daily charges and to give us the option to change suppliers if we wanted.  We initially used Flogas, but gas prices rose so we compared suppliers.  We found a cheaper alternative supplier and told Flogas that we intended to move.  Flogas then reduced our gas price and wrote to us to tell us that they were going to put us on a tariff that was 10 pence per litre above the North Sea bulk price. We were very happy with this.   It is now four years after this deal was made and gas prices are low.   But Flogas has contacted us to say that our deal no longer applies. Yet there was no time limit mentioned in the letter, which was on headed Flogas notepaper, dated and signed, saying that Flogas will supply us gas at ten pence per litre above the North Sea price.  Flogas has now increased our price from 19 pence per litre to 34 pence per litre, which is a nearly 100 per price increase.  I have tried to formally complain to Flogas, but it says that as far as it is concerned the matter is closed.  GO, Bristol.

A. We contacted Flogas, which at first responded by reiterating its position and to justify this. Flogas explains that its letter to you in 2010 was offering what it regarded as a two year supply contract, which expired in October 2012.  The terms provided to you in 2010 were unusual for a domestic customer, who would normally be offered a fixed price contract. As far as Flogas was concerned, the continuation of this arrangement required you to actively place orders, which it says you did not do.  But it adds that it did not regard the arrangement as a contract for supply.  Flogas says that it wrote to you in the middle of last year saying it was ceasing the arrangement.  You dispute several of these details, including the requirement for you to actively place orders.  You say that your tank was automatically topped-up by Flogas and that you never ordered new supplies.  Indeed, you add that as you have a serious illness you would be physically unable to check whether your tank needed to be topped-up.  You say that on the one occasion when the tank was not automatically topped-up and the gas consequently ran out, you were given a £50 ex-gratia payment to apologise.  You also say that you have no record of having received correspondence last year to advise that the current arrangement was ceasing.  You add that the new charges offered by Flogas were more expensive than the terms on which your neighbours are supplied.  We put these additional points to Flogas, which while maintaining that its position was correct has now revised its offer to you.  A spokesman for Flogas says:  “Flogas will always listen to our customers to look for a fair outcome. To this end, we have agreed with [the reader]  a new competitive contract, and have undertaken a full review of his account to ensure that everything is up to date and that [the reader] has paid no more than was originally agreed.”  You tell us that you are very happy with this result.

Q. I have had problems with Atlas Editions, which specialises in producing models of iconic British and foreign designs such as the Flying Scotsman, the Triumph Bonneville and HMS Hood.  They offer some models at a very low price to attract customers and I have taken up several of these offers, while cancelling any commitment to be a regular customer of their full price models, which are too expensive for me.  I bought one of the discounted models a few months ago and cancelled future models afterwards, but I have received three further deliveries since then.  I have sent Atlas Editions several emails: the replies merely state “Your email will be dealt with by our Customer Service team, who will take and necessary action and advise if required.”  But I hear nothing more after this. JC, Lancashire.

A. We have been unsuccessful in contacting Atlas Editions.  Our phone calls were disconnected by the automated reply service and our emails did not receive responses.  However, you tell us that after we emailed Atlas Editions it has contacted you to provide a postal address for you to return the unwanted models.