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VIC Dispute with Gas Company & Debt Collectors - What to Do?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by T-I-M, 12 May 2016.

  1. T-I-M

    T-I-M Member

    12 May 2016
    Likes Received:
    Hi All,

    I'm wondering if someone knows the answer to a question I have around the requirement to prove a debt exists in the first place.

    Sorry for the long story....

    So in 2010, we had a leaking gas meter which we alerted our provider too and they came and fixed it. We then got a very high bill so we called them and told them it was obviously due to the leaking gas from their meter. They said the high bill was actually because they were estimating our bills. They finally got an accurate reading which brought our bill down a little bit but it was still high. We told them again that it was because of the leaking gas and their answer was that we were wrong. We argued and argued and they just put it through to debt collectors.

    We argued with debt collectors for a couple of years and eventually the phone calls stopped. Stupidly we probably should have raised this with them again but we assumed they had just agreed that we were in the right.

    This year out of the blue, the debt collectors have started chasing us again. I asked what it was in relation too and they just sent through the final bill. I told them this didn't answer my question and that I believe the money they may be chasing is in relation to the leaking gas meter. After many emails and phone calls they still can't provide me anything but the final bill. I told them the subject was mute anyway because it had been over 6 years and it is now statute blocked. They said we made a payment on the account in 2013 which means they have another 3 years to chase this money. I have asked for proof of this payment which they have still not provided.

    I ended up calling Consumer Affairs Victoria and they put me onto the Energy and Water Ombudsman who got talks between me and the energy company started again. The energy company first said they had no notes on a meter being replaced and then when they rang the office that deals with the meter replacements they were told they don't keep records past 2012. They then came back to me and said they found notes that it had been replaced. I said to them that this must mean I don't owe the money and they said I still owe the money because the fault was on my side of the meter. I said what is my side, and they said the pipe leading out. I argued why they didn't replace the pipe then if that was the cause of the issue and why did they replace the meter. They didn't have an answer so I said how do you know the leak was on my side and they replied because it is in the report. I asked what report and the phone went silent. I said I assume from your silence you mean the report that was destroyed in 2012, two years after the meter was replaced?

    They have told me it doesn't matter because I still owe the money. So my question is do they have to prove that I owe the money in this scenario?

    FYI the ombudsman won't help me any more because it is older than 3 years old.
  2. Victoria S

    Victoria S Well-Known Member

    9 April 2014
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    Hi T-I-M,

    Ultimately, if they want to enforce the debt they will have to take you to court and prove with evidence that their action is not statute barred and that you did indeed make a payment 3 years ago and that the monies they claim are owing. If they can't do that, it is not worth them pursuing it.
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