Here's quite a complicated situation which I'd love some help with:
In 2008 my Ma passed away and I was unable to deal with things for a while. She was a pensioner, and was on Staywarm (i.e. social tariff) I had a lot of hassle with the supplier until eventually with the aid of a social worker the bills were put in my name, though because I wasn't contracted to them they didn't try to charge me the remaining money and only charged me from that period.
This means I was wrongly informed to form contract with them (verbally only, note, NOTHING written!) and I made a payment of around 30 quid. I wanted their social tariff as I am disabled, to be told I couldn't get it as I was under 65 and that this firm didn't operate it in my case. I was then told that I couldn't switch companies as I had debt to them and they wouldn't let me until this debt was cleared. I told them that I am a low user and that I'm not always at home. I have since always sent them truthful readings and because I offered to pay them for a month's use last year before I went away, I happened to find out that my monthly use is actually around £25. Of course I have arrears, around £200, so I try to give them about £50 per month to catch up.
Two months ago, I had my money stopped for 5 weeks and was unable to pay them that month. When I finally got some money through, I gave them £45, which to be honestwas all I could do. Sometime last week, someone pushed a handwritten envelope through my door on headed notepaper ordering me to phone them within 7 days to 'discuss' my £291 arrears (which could ONLY have been an estimate.)
Questions arising I guess are:
Is this verbal understanding worth anything, and as I have been paying them, does that create 'consent' ?
Because they cannot offer me a social tariff rate, which I believe to be EU law, is this 'contract' valid, and
Were they defrauding me by saying I couldn't switch supplier because of hitherto-unagreed 'arrears' even though the social worker told them I was long-term sick and disabled, even to the extent at the time that I couldn't use the phone?
Am I responsible if it wasn't me who did the talking? I was in a severe state because of the bereavement and incapable of managing my own affairs. This soc worker it seems wasn't too savvy about these things.
Thanks for any help or advice! I'm quite new to all this but I know a thing or two, hopefully I can help some people...