Energy bills are confusing enough for most of us, so what happens when energy suppliers make errors? Research from uSwitch has shown that 3.8million consumers have been on the receiving end of bad billing from their supplier.
This has a total impact of costing consumers £270million (an average of £72 each). 36% claimed the errors on their bills was down to the wrong tariff or product details being applied, resulting in them being overcharged.
|Supplier error||Percentage of overcharged customers affected|
|The tariff or product details were wrong||36%|
|An incorrect fee was applied||31%|
|The charge was different to the meter reading provided||27%|
|The Direct Debit was wrong||24%|
|The bill was muddled up with somebody else’s||23%|
|I was charged twice for the same product||21%|
|The bill didn’t add up correctly||19%|
|A special offer or discount wasn’t applied||14%|
Billing issues are not only an inconvenience for the amount of money they cost, but also time; nearly a fifth of overcharged consumers (19%) waited between one and two months before their billing issue was resolved, with more than one in ten (12%) waiting over two months. Worse still, nearly one in ten (9%) consumers who were overcharged as a result of a mistake are yet to receive any money back from their supplier.
Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com, acknowledges that consumers shouldn't have to pay for suppliers' mistakes:
“Consumers have a right to expect correct bills.
“Accurate bills are essential if consumers stand any hope of taking control of their energy use and spend. Recent upgrades by some suppliers to billing systems have resulted in teething problems, but today’s figures show there’s still more for the industry to do.
“We urge customers to always check their bills carefully, and speak immediately to their supplier if they think they have been short-changed. Consumers should also always provide up to date meter readings to avoid estimated bills, and check that the figure they provided has been used.”
With the advice to regularly check your energy bill comes the difficulty in deciphering what it all means. Energy bills aren't exactly known for their clarity, so you can get to know your supplier's billing better with uSwitch's annotated bills.