Monthly Archives: February 2016

Pensioner Rip Offs, Energy Scams, (Barrel-dregs)

This Weeks Humour:-
Click on the subject and smile before you read this rip off.
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BD 2 Pensioner rip Offs.eps

Pensioner Rip Offs, Energy Scams, (Barrel-dregs)

Whatever age you are, the implication of this scam will affect you, it may be your customers, parents or grand parents and if you are over fifty-five, you personally.

We have EON and Age UK passing on details of pensioners over 55 and putting them on more expensive contracts, EON paying Age UK a tidy £3.6 million for the information, as quoted in the national press. EON are now supposedly putting these pensioners back on cheaper contracts.

At a Trade Show last week the CEO of an Energy Comparison Company, told me most of the major companies are targeting pensioners with a similar scam.

I have been with (XXXXX XXXXXX) (XX) for a number of years, negotiating a new contract two months before the existing one expired, also checking with a Comparison Site to ensure that it was the best deal for me.

April 2015, I agreed a twelve month contract at a better rate than my previous contract and a monthly DD of £123, they had quoted on my last years figures a DD of £110.

I had taken the £123 because I knew that I would always be in credit, which they agreed to refund every three months and only did so after chasing them.

A month after starting the contract (XX) emailed me saying that the DD was being increased to £144, otherwise I would be in debit to the sum of £257.27, the fact that I was already in credit had no bearing on the matter.

A heated phone call and the DD was left at £123, end of story I thought.

Not on your life, 11th November 2015, (XX) emailed me saying that my DD is being raised to £177, a 40% increase, otherwise I would be in debit to the tune of £281.49 by April 2016, a quick check and my account showed a credit of £223, in fact it was actually higher than that after the scam.

By this stage, I realised that this was a scam on older pensioners.

I phoned (XX) and a woman told me that we were going to have a hard Winter, I told her that they were in breach of their contract and I was leaving them and no exit fee would apply, they were also intimidating ageing pensioners, she agreed to waive the exit fee. A further call and another woman said my credit of several hundred pounds would be paid within 28 days.

After 28 days nothing, I phoned (XX) again was cut off several times and finally talked to a man who said I had been put on the wrong rates and agreed to compensate me with £20 for my time wasted through being cut off, the balance would be sent to me with a breakdown.

No breakdown of how they arrived at the figure and certainly not the balance figure shown on my account, after that access to my account was blocked.

I switched to GB Energy at the end of November with my DD about 60% less than I would have been paying (XX).

I then got an (XX) email in January 2016 saying that my balance of £7.19, would be paid in 28 days and the £60 exit fee was payable.

Again, I phoned (XX) to be told that I was on a three year contract until 2018 at a seriously higher rate than my actual 12 month contract, the new contract had started in October 2015.

They claim that I clicked on a marketing link sent by them on 17th October 2015, automatically putting me on a three year contract at a higher rate.

An even bigger scam than I originally thought and needed exposing.

The fact that I was seriously ill at the time with a blood clot and tubes coming out of me, the last thing that I would do is change a cheaper contract for a more expensive longer one, knowing that energy prices are falling, regardless of the medical state that I was in.

No contract, no notification of 28 days to get out of the contract, all totally illegal, despite emailing them and phoning them for details of this fictitious fraudulent contract.

As with all click on links an automatic response should have been issued with an opt out time period for any sort of contract, in this case totally illegal.

The only email in October that I was able to send was the gas meter reading, if submitting your meter readings on line, constitutes changing a contract, then this is a total fraud and illegal.

The so called marketing link, if it exists, I certainly haven’t seen one in any of the (XX) emails they have sent, not that I respond to spam emails anyway, but I do keep them unopened, I have now opened them all and submitted all the details to the Ombudsman.

In addition our IT people have been through all the deleted, spam and active emails from (XX), absolutely nothing that relates to a click on link or an automated response with a fictitious contract.

Their Customer Case Resolution Service is worse than useless, having assured me that all the information of contracts, balances etc. would be sent to me absolutely nothing.

They did finally admit that the balance of my credit, which had been illegally pocketed by them, would be sent to me, needless to say I have not received it.

This National Company is in my opinion a very nasty company, they didn’t used to be, but they are now.

Another question, the NHS are fantastic at using statistics to their advantage, has someone, again illegally or legally, like Age UK been passing on details of seriously ill or vulnerable pensioners to (XXXXX XXXXXXX) and other companies, because this started after I came out of hospital, the first time???

I also asked (XX) to ensure that all similar scams to vulnerable pensioners would be rectified.

At this moment of time (XX) have declined to comment!

The stupid part by (XX) is, that if they had refunded my credit of £223 I would not have started digging and found a nest of very rotten worms from a company which should know better, they now rate as one of the worst companies in my opinion.

EON and Age UK had a similar cosy deal, targeting the most vulnerable people in our community.

This is the third hit that I have had after leaving hospital, one tried to insist that I had a contract and backed down, the second a complaint has been lodged with the Financial Ombudsman and (XX) now have a complaint lodged with the Energy Ombudsman.

I have also been advised to lodge complaints with Trading Standards and, the Ombudsman, unfortunately cannot instruct companies to rectify similar activities with other vulnerable people, only for the person lodging the complaint .

The only way to stop this abuse of vulnerable pensioners is to expose these activities is in the Press and Media, please be our guests and make older people aware that these national companies have very few scruples, older and vulnerable people are targeted because the percentage that will object or take action is very small.

The amount of money involved is eye watering, if you look at the commission paid to AGE UK.

If your customers, family or friends have been caught on this Scam, please let us know, we want the companies involved to make restitution to the pensioners and the companies named and shamed.

Please email us with names and details to and we will see what can be done to expose these nasty practices and put a stop to it.

We have blocked out the name of the Energy Company in the hope that they might repair the damage they have done to vulnerable people, most aged pensioners have little or no idea how to sort these companies out and rely on family to help them, if they are made aware of the scam, the others are just “Ripped Off”.

The Energy Company that ripped me off will have it’s name published next week, unless they make restitution to all the people they have caught in this Scam and assurances that it will never happen again with aged or vulnerable pensioners and people.

The sad reality is that we all get old at some stage and we don’t need National Companies “Ripping us Off”.

Fortunately all aspects of this scam are documented, but it took me until 14th January 2016 for confirmation from (XX) that they had put me on a three year contract until 2018.

Potboy Senior

Please view our other web site for Information, Help and Advice

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees, customers and older people are made fully aware of the many hidden pitfalls, set up by the unscrupulous individuals and companies.

Pensioner Rip Offs, Energy and other Contracts (Barrel-Dregs)

Barrel-dregs 2Barrel-dregs 3This Weeks Humour:-
Click on the subject and smile.
Lawyers Intelligence,
Spanish evening at the Bull ???

Pensioner Rip Offs, Energy and other Contracts (Barrel-Dregs)

You may not think this applies to you personally, but sadly it does, you may not be 55 or over, but they are targeting your older customers, your parents, relations and mature friends and if you are over 55 you personally. They all know the older you get, the less likely you are to complain or stop their antics. I was hit with a 40% increase on my Energy DD, I am now paying 60% less with another company, EON and Age UK were exposed on a similar cosy deal worth millions.

Having reached mature years with my brain and body still working reasonably well, I became aware of a substantial increase in phishing calls and a battery of emails from my existing suppliers to change my contracts for everything that was or is on a contract, even ones that have only been running for a couple of months.

My experiences over the last fifteen months are unbelievable and certainly illegal over the last five months and amount to fraud.

The big Con with Commercial Energy is that, if you do not negotiate a new rate before the end of your contract they can put you on a deemed rate, which is whatever rate they decide on and you’re locked into it for another year.

A solicitor called me a few years ago, a client of his had his monthly DD increased by 400% and there was absolutely nothing he could do except change his business name or sell the business, a complaint to the Ombudsman was useless, because it was technically legal!!!!

The Government did step in and stop the same sharp practice with residential property, but not commercial, though I heard at a Trade Show yesterday they are supposedly bringing in legislation to make these activities illegal, when is the big question?

Back to your older customers and Pensioner Rip Offs and yourself, if you are of mature years.

Every time that you start a new contract or switch suppliers, they always ask for personal details for security, the key one being your date of birth, not a problem or is it?

It is a massive problem for you, as soon as you reach 55 the junk mail increases, at 65 it gets worse at 75 you are besieged by mail, phishing emails and phone calls for everything under the sun.

None of them would ever admit to selling on your details, but they represent serious money to the company with your details, residential or commercial.

Do not give out your date of Birth to any company that you are about to have a supply contract with.

EON and Age UK, have just been exposed with a cosy deal worth millions to EON and boosting Age UK’s coffers by a supposed £3,600,000.00, if the press stories are correct.

Part 2 will follow next week. (The real Rip Off)

Potboy Senior

Please view our other web site for Information, Help and Advice

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and  accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees and customers are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.



Interesting comments from the Sages of the Industry


Interesting comments from the Sages of the Industry

The scream test by Paul Chase:

“I sense a huge disturbance in the Force”, said Obi-Wan Kenobe – immediately after the Empire had used the Death Star to destroy an entire planet. From the wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst health lobby cranks over the past couple of weeks you could be forgiven for thinking that something of similar consequence had happened. What could it be? Well, two things have really upset them: firstly the enactment, after a trial, of an anti-sock puppet regulation prohibiting charities from using taxpayers’ money, received from government, to lobby government; and secondly, the announcement the government will not, after all, introduce a sugar tax.

Forgive me if I sound just a little smug, but the health racket has always applied something called the “scream test” to policies directed at our industry: if the policy makes Big Alcohol or Big Food scream, then it must be bad for “them” and good for “us”. There’s nothing like getting a dose of your own medicine boys!

So what has been the response to these measures? According to the Daily Telegraph, campaigners have reacted with fury to reports the government has rejected the proposal for a sugar tax of up to 20%, preferring instead to agree “voluntary measures” with industry to reduce sugar content of foods, but with the threat of a sugar tax if they don’t. Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “The decision must be reversed or it will be more proof that the government is in the thrall of the food industry and the sugar barons will have won yet again.” And he continued: “NHS chiefs know full well that the combination of child and adult obesity could topple the UK’s most cherished institution.”

No it won’t Fry! Actually both adult and child obesity rates have stabilised recently and the whole moral panic over obesity is being kept going by projections about future obesity rates, which are as unlikely to materialise as the previous ones. “This could be the end for the NHS” is the perennial cry of those who want to frighten us into state control of diet, or else the national religion will fall over.

And then there is the response of Graham MacGregor, chairman and founder of Action on Sugar. He’s so miffed he’s threatening to take his ball back and go and play for another country: “We won’t stop and if the UK don’t want to stop doing it (sic), we will go to another country like Argentina or Chile, which are much better organised in terms of public health and nutrition.” Really MacGregor, really? General Galtieri and General Pinochet must be turning in their graves!

And what of nanny in residence Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the Commons health select committee? Well, she’s not happy either. She’s been locked in a battle with Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary over the sugar tax and she’s even less pleased about government ending taxpayer funding of faux charities. She fears this will tip the balance even more in favour of Big Food and away from public health. Well, Wollaston, quite a lot of people feel the imbalance has been in the direction of so-called “public health” for far too long and this is a much-needed correction. And much of the credit for this goes to the Institute of Economic Affairs, and its director of lifestyle economics Chris Snowdon, for researching and campaigning on this issue.

The actual phrase that will be inserted into all new and renewed grant agreements reads: “The following costs are not eligible expenditure: payments that support activity intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action.” Alcohol Concern please take note! No doubt it will go scurrying off to Big Pharma for some more funding, but it didn’t take long for Jackie Ballard its chief executive, who’s only been in post for two years, to hand in her notice now the ship may be sinking. So there’s a vacancy. I think I might apply – no, only kidding!

Of course, “public health” can always point to the chief medical officer’s revised drinking guidelines as a triumph can’t it? Well, no – these have been met with almost universal derision and a storm of criticism. Reportedly the Department of Health is distinctly rattled over the response to the new “low-risk” guidelines and public support from ministers for Dame Sally Davies’ piece of science-denial has been conspicuous by its absence. And the “there is no safe level of drinking” mantra has quickly been followed by “there is no safe level of sun bathing” – in sunny February! And Dame Sally’s two pieces of advice: “When reaching for a glass of wine, do what I do and ask do I want this glass of wine or do I want to increase my risk of cancer?” and “Use six teaspoons of sun cream” before going out into the sunshine. Oh dear!

All we need now is formal confirmation from the Scottish courts in a few weeks’ time minimum pricing is dead and I shall throw a party!

Paul Chase is a director of CPL Training and a leading commentator on health and alcohol policy

The policing and crime bill by Michelle Hazlewood:

The policing and crime bill was subject to its first reading in the House of Commons on 10 February 2016 and seeks to cure a number of problems and anomalies within the current licensing legislation. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the issue of interim steps (which ought to be welcomed by licensing practitioners and operators alike) and licensing authorities will obtain the ability to review personal licences. However, in the past licensing cures have not always had the intended result and having reviewed the bill we have some concerns.

The bill looks to amend the legislation in relation to interim steps arising from a summary review of a premises licence. The concept of interim steps was introduced so as to allow rapid assessment of the impact of a premises on the licensing objectives where it was associated with serious crime and/or disorder, often the outcome being the suspension of the premises licence pending a full review hearing. Unfortunately, S.53A Licensing Act 2003 did not clearly stipulate whether the interim steps should:
– remain in place after a review hearing; before the review decision takes effect (21 days)
– until any appeal hearing
– if the interim steps can be amended
– and/or withdrawn by the licensing authority.
This is an issue that has split practitioners, authorities and courts and clarification from the government has so far been elusive.

The impact assessment issued by the Home Office states: “We would also like to ensure that businesses subject to summary reviews are treated fairly and any interim steps that remain in place after a review hearing are proportionate, including when they remain in place for extended periods when an appeal is lodged by either side.”

Three different options are proposed. The first to do nothing, which we would hope is not adopted as it leaves everyone in the same predicament. The second is for the interim steps to automatically cease after the review hearing. The review decision would then take effect 21 days thereafter once the period for lodging an appeal has expired (as per a standard review application). However, also built into this option is the right for the licensing authority to decide at the review hearing the determination should have immediate effect (removing the 21 day grace period). However, a right to an expedited appeal to the magistrates’ court, which would be open to all parties that had taken part in the review proceedings would also be available. Even on an overview, this is complex!

The third option (and the one noted as preferred by the Home Office) requires the licensing authority to review the interim steps at the hearing and decide which if any, of the steps imposed should remain in place until the 21 day appeal period has expired or any appeal is determined. In this instance, after a review hearing, the police and licence holder would have a right to an expedited appeal to the magistrates’ court in relation to the interim steps. There is an indication the expedited appeal should be heard within 28 days. Having reviewed the flow chart helpfully provided by the Home Office, option three in reality appears as complex as option two. The unintended consequence of the ability to immediately appeal is where there is a suspended licence you would likely have two appeals. The first immediately after the review hearing against the interim steps and then potentially a second appeal within the standard 21 day period against any other elements of the decision, such as removal of the designated premises supervisor.

This will escalate the costs borne by all parties and questions must be asked as to which appeal decision will take precedence and there must be a danger of magistrates and district judges taking a pragmatic view that both appeals should be listed together and the expedited element thereby being lost. The best result for the operator would have been for interim steps to automatically cease at the review hearing and then for any decision made at that hearing not to take effect for 21 days or after any appeal is determined ie mimicking the standard review procedure. Disappointingly, this was not even an option for consideration and the bill itself as drafted will bring into effect the third option.

The bill also proposes to allow licensing authorities to suspend or revoke a personal licence. Currently, if a personal licence holder commits a relevant offence, the sentencing court can suspend or revoke their personal licence but in reality this rarely occurs. Unlike Scotland, the English and Welsh licensing authorities have no power to commence a review of a personal licence.

Under clause 132A, the bill proposes to provide this power on conviction for any relevant or foreign offence or a requirement to pay an immigration penalty. The process is commenced by the licensing authority giving notice to the licence holder and inviting them to make representations regarding the situation. At this point, we would expect to see a mechanism setting out a process of a review hearing, which might include the allegation of the licensing authority, an opportunity for the licence holder to respond and input from the police with a caveat the evidence should relate to the licensing objective of preventing crime and disorder only. In fact, the bill provides no opportunity for a hearing, which must be contrary to natural justice and potentially human rights’ legislation as the net result could be the removal of someone’s livelihood. Further, there does not appear to be within the clauses, any back reference to the test for securing the personal licence in the first place and very worryingly references are made to the licensing authority taking into account “any other information which the authority considers as relevant”.

One wonders if an unintended consequence of this section is for the reintroduction of the fit and proper person test! The proposed provision lacks the clarity found in the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, which provides a clear process for review of a personal licence and also defines the roles of authority that issues the licence and the authority where the licence holder now lives and/or works. Everyone within the hospitality industry is interested in light bureaucracy but not so as to create a disadvantage to the individual who may lose their livelihood.

The policing and crime bill provides an excellent opportunity to cure the matters discussed above and also look at what constitutes a relevant offence, amend the definition of alcohol to include powdered and vaporised alcohol and to remove the requirement for guidance to be laid before Parliament when it is updated. Our hope is that those drafting the legislation take time to secure the clarity desired by the Industry and licensing practitioners and consider the potential consequences, which will flow from the proposed clauses within the bill.

Michelle Hazlewood is a partner at licensing solicitors John Gaunt

HMRC and the shortfall on Cask Ale. (Barrel-Dregs)


HMRC and the shortfall on Cask Ale. (Barrel-Dregs)

This does not just apply to Lessees and Tenants, Managers may well find they face the same problem.

To advise the HMRC Excise Team.

Who are looking into the failure of the cask ale supply chain to notify publicans as to the correct amount of duty that is being paid on cask ale that they produce or sell. This concession to wholesalers and brewers who handle or sell cask ale is contained within HMRC notice EN226

The issues pubs face are multiple:

1. setting of GP and pricing is clearly impossible when you expect to get 72 pints you can sell but don’t get this amount – you may have undertaken paid for training courses with your pub company or the BII and been given promotional materials that shows you can achieve 72 pint yields from cask ale – you will need to gather in all of this information and keep it as evidence.
2. the HMRC could require you to make up VAT shortfall for the missing pints – the notices your suppliers are meant to send to you are your only proof that you got less than 72 pints you could sell.
3. those who have a rent set by Fair Maintainable Trade (FMT) that includes cask will need to check if the rent agreed with their landlord took into account enough of the sediment in the cask ale sales part of the calculation – this is NOT wastage (typically you’ll have a 1.5% waste that covers sampling, top up’s and operational loss) – the 3.5 / 4 pints that you cant sell in a cask ale product would mean it would need to be at least 5% on top.

We are asking to meet with the Excise Team as a matter of urgency to ensure they do not make pubs the fall guys for the failure of EN226 by the brewers and wholesalers – we have had confirmation form a cabinet minister that a pub company acting as a “dry broker” is also required to inform the publican.

We are fighting hard to get a deal whereby the correct procedures are to be followed without exception from now on so there is no more suppression of the duty paid notices that leads publicans to over estimate the sales from cask ale.

Potboy South East

Note:-We sent a copy of our Barrel-dregs article exposing this shortfall to the BII with the implications and received no response whatsoever. PEAT from our sources appeared to confirm 72 pints of cask ale produced 72 pints, which everyone involved in selling beer knows that at least 3.5 pints and more, are disposed of as ullage.

Please view our other web site for Information, Help and Advice

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.


A Nasty little Sneaky Habit by certain Pub owning Companies. Barrel-dregs

Barrel-dregs 2Barrel-dregs 3

A Nasty little Sneaky Habit by certain Pub owning Companies. Barrel-dregs

It would appear that a number of existing lease sales have fallen through, because the would be purchasers have been told by Pub Co Management, that they may take that particular pub back for their own use, in other words become a managed house.

To be fair, the Pub Co should be obliged to add this proviso, if there is any serious possibility of them going down the managed house route.

But did they tell them that for every seven years that the lease has been in operation, that the Landlord has to pay the Lessee compensation based on the full rateable value, to a maximum of 14 years. e.g. Rateable value £90K, for seven years they pay £90K, for fourteen years they pay £180K compensation.

There are leases that exclude this compensation, so read the small print.

However there are certain companies doing their level best to put off potential buyers, in the hope that the existing lessee will hand the lease back, from our sources, very naughty.

This policy is very short sighted, good licensees should be looked after, good purchasers also, if you get the wrong people as lessees, it costs the Pub Co a lot of money.

Do they also warn potential purchasers that their financial position may be or is precarious and subject to a takeover at any time and policy may change, I think not.

Conversion to a managed house, would be financial suicide on a large scale, we have too many badly run managed houses and even more uncommitted staff.

Warning potential buyers off is not strictly within the spirit of the ACT, from an informed source, when there is little intention of going down the managed house route on a large scale.

Potboy London

Please view our other web site for Information, Help and Advice

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.