New research from uSwitch shows that one in four homes has been incorrectly billed by their energy supplier in the past two years, and 13% of them have had discrepancies more than once.
On average, billing issues take just over a month to settle. Worryingly, more than a third of households find they unexpectedly owe their energy supplier money following a meter read. This surprise expense cost 6% of them more than £500, while the average due is £154.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Consumers are paying more for their energy than ever before, so the fact that millions continue to be plagued with inaccurate bills is simply unacceptable.
“Billing blunders are not just costly, but can also take time and effort to sort out, leaving consumers both frustrated and out of pocket.”
Paying the price
On top of the headache of sorting out incorrect bills, consumers risk running in to debt as a result of surprise additional payments.
It is this sort of problem that has led to suppliers being voted by consumers as the worst industry when it comes to accuracy — falling behind credit-card companies, other utility companies and banks — for the seventh year in a row.
The silver lining
However, consumers continue to take billing into their own hands. 77% reported having supplied their own meter readings to their suppliers in the last six months. This reflects an increase of 3% from last year, and a 13% increase from 2009.
This is a change Ms Robinson wholeheartedly supports, stating that by aiming to provide meter readings once a quarter, consumers will help improve the accuracy of their energy bills and will “break the vicious circle of estimated bills that can so often lead to debt”.