Bala café has £49K electricity bill slashed thanks to energy experts

A popular town centre café which faced closure when landed with a massive energy bill of almost £50,000 is now thriving again after independent experts had the charges cut to less than £7,000.

The Cyfnod Café in Bala were hit with an electricity bill of £49,200 – despite the fact that they were paying about £1,000 month to British Gas who claimed the shortfall had been built up over several years.

Eleri Dolben Evans, who runs the well-known restaurant with her husband, Gareth, was at her wits end when her accountants advised her to call in Ruthin-based energy brokers The Energy Company.

SR110714A Cyfnod Cafe Bala with owners Gareth and Eleri Evans, were visitef by John Davies (Purple Shirt) of The Energy Company. The cafe was miss-billed by a huge amount, almost £50K, but the Energy Company identified the miss-billing and got them a reduction of over £40K in their bill.

They examined the Cyfnod bills and the rates they were being charged and calculated that they had been miss-billed on a massive scale – the Energy Company finally calculated the actual amount of underpayment at just over £11,000.

They even had that sum cut by a further £5,000 for the stress caused to Eleri and Gareth. The Energy Company insisted that all late payment charges be cancelled and also negotiated two years to pay off the final amount of £6,555.68.

Eleri said she had a massive shock when the bill came through her letter box: “It came right out of the blue,” she said: “I nearly had a heart attack when I saw it. It was very, very worrying.

“It was a tremendous amount of money and it could have seriously affected our business.

“I kept calling British Gas Accounts Manager, explaining the situation and saying there must be some kind of mistake, as we were already paying about £1,000 a month for our electricity.

“British Gas kept sending different people to check the meter readings.  Gareth spoke to the Manager regarding the bill and was told they had checked it three times and it was correct.

“We refurbished the cafe in 2006, and installed new economical appliances. We are careful and always switch off appliances not in use. We have 35 covers and are open during the day and early evening. We just couldn’t understand how we could run up a bill totalling £49K.

“Every time I tried to call British Gas, I would be transferred to different people in different departments, listening to recorded messages and music and would be on the phone for what seemed like hours, and would get nowhere.  If affected my health and I became very run down and stressed.

“Our accountants, De Longa and Co in Ruthin, thought there was definitely something wrong. He said, ‘It looks as if you’re supplying electricity to the street,’ and advised us to go to The Energy Company.”

John Davies, MD of The Energy Company examined the Cyfnod’s historic bills and identified serious billing issues by British Gas. He said: “Initially British Gas insisted that the bills were correct and that indeed Mr and Mrs Dolben Evans owed this sum.

“Following dozens of phone calls and e-mails, British Gas finally admitted that their bills were erroneous.”

He also commented: “The deregulation of the energy industry in the mid-nineties was massively miss-managed. There are 14 electricity areas in the England, Scotland and Wales. Each area has a range of different tariffs, prices and metering.  It was an accident waiting to happen.

“The Cyfnod café miss-bill is just one of dozens we have identified and helped. No doubt there are many more out there.

“Over the course of six to eight years this had been responsible for the massive bill accumulating in addition to their normal charges.

“This was an extreme case but it was hugely stressful and upsetting for Eleri and Gareth who were running a successful and popular local business and suddenly found themselves saddled with this enormous bill.

“It was clear something was wrong and there had been a mistake by their supplier so it was just a case of tracking it down and then fighting their corner for them.”

Eleri said: “The Energy Company have been brilliant and they’re now handling our energy account and we’re delighted with what they have done. We are recommending them to everyone we know.

“I give them a reading every month and they check them and sort out the payment and arrange our tariffs and it’s working very well.”

The Energy Company was founded by John Davies 20 years ago and is now based on Lon Parcwr, Ruthin, where it employs eight staff as well as a network of agents across the UK.

“We act as brokers for our clients, finding them the best deal and in return we are paid, not by them but by the energy companies with whom we arrange their accounts. We also give all customers an assurance that we will deal with any issues that might arise, including bill and tariff analysis, correct termination, and, of course, competitive quotes”.

The Cyfnod aren’t the only client that the company have been able to help with overcharging – they recently won a rebate of over £20,000 for the monks of the isolated Caldey Island in the Bristol Channel.

John Davies added: “We’re delighted to help all our customers and we estimated that in the last 10 years alone we have saved them a total of £5 million, money which I am sure they can better spend elsewhere in their business.

“We’re delighted to have helped a thriving and popular business like the Cyfnod which is so much a part of life in the community of Bala.”

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