New research from uSwitch reveals that seven in 10 consumers (70%) have been overcharged on a household bill in the past year. More than a third (33%) have been overcharged more than once.
The average amount people are being overcharged is a shocking £196; some unlucky consumers (11%) have been overcharged £400 or more.
Companies that send through household bills every month, including utilities, telecoms and mortgages, may have overcharged their customers to the tune of £6.7 billion just in the past year, says uSwitch.
Earlier this year, uSwitch discovered that 25% of households are wrongly billed by their energy supplier.
Paying for the mistakes
uSwitch also identified the most common reasons consumers were overcharged. The biggest culprits were additional charges that should not have been applied (42%).
32% stated that they were overcharged with an incorrect tariff, while 25% did not receive a special offer or discount as promised. A quarter of consumers report that their bill simply did not add up correctly.
To make matters worse, consumers have to spend both time and money making it right. An estimated 8 hours and £23 on calls is spent by consumers trying to sort out the overcharging mistakes. On top of these costs, they had to wait nearly two months on average to have their money returned to them.
Diligence pays off
Of those overcharged, nearly all of them (95%) uncovered the mistake on their own, not by the bill provider.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch says of the findings:
“Overcharging on household bills is rife and yet it still seems to be down to the customer to spot it. Consumers have to keep their wits about them and ensure that they check all their household bills carefully – if you are not checking then the chances are that a mistake will have slipped through and this could be costing you dear.
“At the same time I would urge companies to do as much as possible to help their customers by making household bills simpler, clearer and easier to understand. This is a foundation stone in building trust and confidence, and a vital step towards putting consumers in control. With 95% of overcharging spotted by customers rather than the bill provider, it’s imperative that people are able to spot and resolve any mistakes quickly – nobody can afford to be left out of pocket because a company didn’t quite get its sums right.”