Research carried out by uSwitch has revealed that for the eighth year in a row, energy suppliers have been singled out as the private companies most likely to get bills wrong.
Two in ten (19%) respondents said their households had been incorrectly billed in the past two years and despite a decrease in the number of inaccuracies, suppliers are taking twice as long to fix any issues.
£146 owed to suppliers on average
The overall number of British homes which were told they owed their energy supplier money following a discrepancy between their estimated and actual bill, has risen from 9.6 million last year to more than 10 million.
The average amount of money owed by these households is £146, although one in ten has ended up between £200 and £400 in arrears.
On a more positive note, eight in ten homes (80%) have provided their energy suppliers with a meter reading in the past six months. This represents an increase of 3% compared to 2013, and means more homes are taking control of their energy expenditure.
Providing quarterly meter readings remains one of the best ways to ensure an accurate energy bill.
Consumers not being able to rely on bills is ‘unacceptable’
Director of Consumer Policy Ann Robinson at uSwitch said: “Consumers are typically paying over £100 a month for gas and electric, so the fact that they cannot rely on the accuracy of their bills is simply unacceptable.
“With energy bills accounting for the largest chunk of household expenditure after rent and mortgage payments, billing blunders can leave consumers feeling frustrated, susceptible and out of pocket.
“There is a toxic link between estimated bills, inaccuracy and debt, which has to be broken. Estimated bills should come with a health warning and with a very simple message and advice about them.”
‘Move to smart meters will eventually put an end to estimated bills’
“If a bill is estimated then the customer should be encouraged to get in touch with a correct reading so that an updated and accurate bill can be sent,” added Robinson
“The move to smart meters will eventually put an end to estimated bills and ensure that consumers enjoy up-to-date bills based on their actual usage. But in the meantime it’s important that we all continue to provide our suppliers with regular meter readings – just one reading every three months could do wonders for the accuracy of our bills”.