Energy companies have come under another barrage of fire after research revealed 28% of households are being overcharged for gas and electricity.
With the average mistake worth £121 per year, it is estimated that these mistakes could be costing consumers a minimum of £650m every 12 months.
The research found that although 40% of those who receive paper bills notice if they are overcharged, this figure drops to 29% for those who are sent online versions. This phenomenon was referred to as “online blindness” and is particularly relevant for younger people. In fact, only 9% of 18-24 year olds check their online bills for mistakes.
Previous research carried out by uSwitch found similar results.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said: “Billing blunders are not just costly, but can also take time and effort to sort out, leaving consumers both frustrated and out of pocket.”
‘Give consumers the choice of receiving paper statements’
Speaking on the findings, Judith Donovan, chair of Keep Me Posted, said: “For many, the arrival of a letter on the doormat is a welcome prompt to consider and act on their bills in a timely manner.
“With a high percentage of people finding costly mistakes in their bills, and energy companies squeezing customers with price hikes, Keep Me Posted is urging energy providers to give consumers the choice of receiving paper statements, which has been proven to help consumers manage their finances more effectively.”
‘Daylight robbery disguised as sloppy service’
Clare Welton, a member of the Fuel Poverty Action campaign group, said: “This daylight robbery disguised as sloppy service from energy companies is yet another blow to the idea that the Big Six, or any bodies that put profit before people’s needs, are in any way suitable to be running our energy system.”
The survey involved 2,000 respondents and was carried out by Consumer Intelligence, a consultancy firm. It was commissioned by the Keep Me Posted group, which does not want paper bills to become something of the past.