Mr Rahim, 53, who has run the establishment for 25 years, arrived at work one afternoon to find that someone had broken into the back of his shop
An energy company that pulled the plug on a popular takeaway has been forced to apologise after a lengthy battle.
The Village Grill, a well-loved takeaway in Derby, went dark after supplier Maxen Power disconnected the electricity meter in July.
Owner Mohammed Rahim went to open his business on the afternoon of July 20, only to find he couldn’t open the motorised shutters on the front of the property.
Mr Rahim,53, who has run the establishment for 25 years, was baffled until he found that someone had broken into the back of the shop and left the back shutter half drawn.
This ignited an epic back-and-forth with the energy company, who claimed Mr Rahim owed them £9,000 while he said they had refused to bill him based on the meter readings he had sent, Derbyshire Live reports.
But despite the Ombudsman now finding in Mr Rahim’s favour, he says Maxen Power still hasn’t heeded the orders to put things right.
The company claimed that they had acted on the basis that he hadn’t paid the £9,000 he owed them.
But Mr Rahim – who had enlisted the services of an energy broker, Free Energy Help, to help him fight back against their claims – was waiting for Maxen to provide an accurate invoice based on the meter readings he’d supplied, rather than on estimates, as they had been doing previously.
The energy disconnection forced the Village Grill to close for two weeks, leaving Mr Rahim sitting at home in Littleover, losing money and worrying about how to save his business
He said: “It’s very upsetting. I’ve run this business for 25 years and never had a problem before. That’s why we’re still running after all this time.”
Having previously had energy supplied by British Gas, E.On and EDF amongst other companies, Mr Rahim, took the contract from Maxen Power in September 2020 over the phone after they offered him cheaper rates than his previous deal.
But problems started when he watched his bill go higher and higher, despite his consumption remaining stable.
He said: “My business is open from 5pm till midnight. It’s not a 24 hour business. The amount they were quoting was too much. I called them up and asked why, considering I was sending the meter readings over. But their customer service is terrible.”
Mr Rahim got a broker involved in February this year to contest the bills. But, despite months of work, the stalemate continued. He says that Maxen Power did not send an accurate reading, and so, as a result, he did not pay.
The broker contacted the Energy Ombudsman in June to try and mediate the situation. But before any resolution could be reached, a warrant was issued by Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court for an ‘electricity operator to enter the premises’.
Then, on Saturday, July 16, Mr Rahim received an email from Maxen Power stating that they were intending to send a representative to the premises to ‘talk’ about the outstanding money.
He claims this did not happen and five days later his meter was disconnected.
Panicking, Mohammed scrambled to get enough money together to pay the outstanding balance on the basis that he’d get a new meter installed immediately. But he was then told it would take up to six weeks.
He said: “I borrowed money and paid out of my own pocket to get back open. I have kids who need feeding and staff who’ll go elsewhere if there’s no work for them.”
On the basis that waiting up to six weeks wasn’t an option, Mohammed bought a generator so that he could open again.
It cost him £2,000 to operate for four days.
A new meter was installed on August 3, and Mohammed was able to run the takeaway properly once again. But he was left thousands of pounds out of pocket and has been chasing the money ever since.
The Energy Ombudsman responded to Mohammed in September, noting inaccurate calculations, a lack of a bill that efficiently breaks down the alleged energy usage, a heavy handed approach to debt collection and shortfalls in customer service from Maxen Power, leading them to uphold Mohammed’s complaint.
The Ombudsman set out four remedies that Maxen Power should complete: a rebill of all charges, a breakdown of meter readings, an apology letter and £350 in credit as a goodwill gesture.
Both Mohammed and the broker say that Maxen Power is still yet to provide bills based on the photographic evidence of the meter readings sent by Mohammed.
They are also yet to fulfil any of the remedies requested of them by the Energy Ombudsman, according to Mohammed and his broker. Maxen Power have been approached for comment.
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