Skip to main content
Menu

Complicated energy bills leaving households baffled and overcharged

Energy bills are too confusing according to new research, with 86% finding them overcomplicated, and almost half believing they have lost money as a result.

The survey of over 1,300 members of the public also said energy bills contain too much jargon (76%), and they therefore cannot find the information they need (71%).

As a result almost half of consumers think they have lost money because of overcomplicated energy bills, and just a quarter (24%) certain that they haven’t lost out.

However, 47% said energy bills have become more customer-friendly in the past year; one in three say the same about home telephone bills (32%) while 28% have seen their bank statements improve.

How household bills compare

Energy Home phone Broadband Water DTV Bank/BS Mobile phone Council tax Credit/Store card Mortgage
Too complicated

86%

27%

20%

20%

5%

8%

17%

14%

9%

9%

Too much jargon

76%

27%

25%

21%

8%

20%

20%

19%

15%

16%

Can’t find the information I need

71%

26%

26%

17%

7%

13%

20%

16%

11%

11%

Unable to work out whether there has been a mistake

78%

32%

25%

28%

8%

12%

23%

18%

10%

12%

Bills more customer-friendly in last year

47%

32%

28%

24%

13%

29%

23%

20%

18%

13%

What we say

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch, says: “Consumers are spending thousands of pounds a year on household bills – the least they should expect is for them to be easy to understand.

“At a time when money is tight, households need to be able to account for every penny spent. Bills that leave them confused and potentially out of pocket are not worth the paper they’re printed on.

“The difference in the quality of household bills is astonishing, with some sectors such as banking and personal finance leading the way in giving people clear and simple information that they can act upon. At the opposite end of the spectrum are energy suppliers.”

How to read energy bills

It’s vital to understand what your bills are telling you to avoid being overcharged and are getting the best deal. For help reading your energy bills we’ve compiled a group of guides all about energy bills:

Energy bills: Energy bills explained, the comprehensive guide to reading your energy bill.

Annual energy statements: Annual energy statements make it easier to switch energy, here’s how to get the most out of them.

Household bills: What will your bills look like in 2015?

Utility bills: What does your utility bill consist of, how does it break down?

Gas and electricity prices: How much have energy prices changed, what was the latest price cut/rise?

  • mary taylor

    Just to make people aware – dont jump until youre absolutely certain you want to switch. It is a minefield of cancellation charges! We have had many sleepless nights worrying that we were doing the right thing and when we decided to switch found ourselves in a whirlpool of companies charging cancellation fees and bills that had to be paid before you could switch.

    • Nicolas Frankcom

      Very good point! Cancellation fees are the bane of switchers everywhere, putting lots of people off switching to a better deal. Suppliers often have cancellation fees on some of their more competitive plans – for example of the two cheapest tariffs currently available First Utility’s iSave Fixed V3 has a cancellation fee, while the second cheapest, ScottishPower’s Online Energy Fixed November 2013, doesn’t. The good news is that suppliers will give you at least one month notice before your prices go up so you can be prepared to switch. As a rule of thumb, not switching at all at the end of a fixed tarff will cost you, so it’s still worth switching, but it’s good practice to double-check your terms and conditions before you do so. At the end of the day nobody likes to get stung by nasty fees, but in some case you may even be better off paying some fees if you get a bigger saving, and it’s also worth noting when you switch whether the plan has fees (we always tell you). If you’re in any doubt give us a call on 0800 404 7918 and we’ll clarify what your situation is.

Categories