With new research estimating that billing blunders cost UK customers over £100m during the past year, we impart our best advice on how to avoid being overcharged, and claim owed money back.
Billing errors have cost UK energy customers a total of £102 million over the past year, according to new research by Uswitch.com.
Owing to various oversights, an estimated 1.3 million consumers were overcharged on their gas and electricity invoices between April 2016 and April 2017, the price comparison service says.
The survey of more than 2,000 people responsible for bill paying revealed a number of other findings. Of those who said they’d been overcharged:
• 26% claimed they’d received a bill that didn’t add up properly;
• 28% claimed they were charged amounts that didn’t match their meter readings;
• 7% claimed they had incorrect fees applied to their bill;
• 5% claimed they’d been placed on the wrong tariff; and
• 5% claimed they had their bill mixed up with someone else’s.
Among other issues highlighted by the research was the discovery that it had taken on average 35 days for customers to receive money back once they had flagged any bill discrepancies, while 7% said they still hadn’t had a refund and 3% had given up on getting their money back altogether.
What’s more, the cost of billing errors may be even higher than the findings suggest, with more than a quarter of energy customers (27%) admitting to not reading their energy bills properly. One fifth (21%) of this group stated this was the case because they didn’t understand their bill.
As an expert energy consultant with more than 20 years’ experience helping UK businesses with their energy matters, we know all there is to know about gas and electricity bills. So, if you’ve been overcharged by your supplier, we can help.
First and foremost, if you are unsure about any aspect of your energy bill, the primary guidance we can give is to contact your supplier directly. It is in their best interest to help you resolve any issues you might have – and will usually be happy to do so.
However, in the interest of protecting yourself from overpaying in the future, as well as making it easier for you to reclaim any monies owed from historical errors, there are certain other things you can do.
1. Learn how to scrutinise your energy bill
As the Uswitch.com research points out, poor understanding of energy bills leaves consumers at much greater risk of missing any incorrect charges on their bill. If you don’t know that you’re being overcharged, then your business could be haemorrhaging money that it needs, or that could be spent on more productive things.
Energy bills can be notoriously difficult to decipher, hence why many people admit to a lack of comprehension. While gas and electricity market regulator Ofgem has stated that it’s currently working with suppliers “to make bills easier to understand”, until that becomes a reality…
• Read our blog for some simple but essential tips on the subject.
• Get to know non-energy costs. It’s particularly important to understand what these charges are, as they’re set to make up 70% of bills by 2020.
2. Get a smart meter installed
Estimated bills have long meant consumers are able to be overcharged, however with the introduction of smart meters to replace traditional gas and electric meters, estimated billing is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Smart meters mean there is no longer need for manual readings, as your energy supplier can track your exact usage and bill accordingly.
While a significant number of large firms have already had their smart meters fitted, many small- to medium-sized businesses are currently awaiting installation as part of the government’s smart meter roll out.
Whatever the size of your business – I&C or SME – if your site doesn’t yet have a smart meter, then what are you waiting for? Get in touch with our metering team today to find out more about our metering services.
3. Acquire the expertise of an energy bureau service
By following points 1) and 2), you are now well on the way to protecting yourself from overpaying for your energy use. However, your back is still not completely covered.
Without a thorough, expert analysis of your bills, money that you’ve been overcharged for in the past will remain out of your hands, and you could continue to be at risk of needlessly losing out on valuable savings in the future.
Our experienced Energy Bureau team specialise in the field of bill validation, handling over 500,000 bills annually and saving our clients up to 15% each year on their utilities.
We analyse bills and resolve any discrepancies or disputes quickly and effectively, including the ability to recover any historical overpaid monies from up to six years previously.
Not only that, we can help bring you greater financial control over your energy spend, helping your business forecast, budget for, and reduce future energy costs.
When it comes to energy bills, we’ve got your back.
Are you ready never to overpay for energy ever again? Contact our bureau team today on 02920 739 503, or email us to find out how we can help your business.