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Energy users overcharged £100m due to supplier billing blunders

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
16/08/2017
More than a million energy customers have been overcharged in the last year due to supplier mistakes, research has found.

Almost 1.3 million energy customers have been overcharged a total of £102m – the equivalent of £79 each – in the past year due to suppliers’ billing errors.

The research from comparison and switching site, uSwitch, found that nearly a third (28%) of those affected were charged for an amount that didn’t match the meter readings they had supplied.

A quarter of the 2,008 polled for the representative survey (26%) said their bill didn’t add up correctly. Other billing blunders include suppliers getting direct debit amounts wrong (8%), applying incorrect fees (7%), getting tariff or product details wrong (5%) and muddling up bills with another customer (5%).

uSwitch said matters were made worse as consumers faced lengthy waiting times to resolve the billing blunders. On average, those affected waited 35 days to get a refund, with one in ten (9%) waiting between one and two months to get their money back and almost a third (28%) waiting more than two months to be repaid.

A further 7% are yet to receive a refund, 4% are still trying to get the issue resolved while 3% have given up chasing their energy company.

However, uSwitch said the billing errors could prove to be higher, since more than a quarter of consumers (27%) admit to not reading their energy bills at all or just reading how much they have to pay and little else.

A fifth (21%) of this group said they don’t read their bills because they don’t understand them. Poor understanding of energy bills leaves consumers at greater risk of not spotting any errors their supplier might have made.

‘Accurate bills are the bare minimum’

Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch, said: “Customers having to pay the price for suppliers’ mistakes is unacceptable. Households are already feeling the pinch from recent energy price rises, and having to chase for an average of 35 days to get their money back simply adds insult to injury.

“We want to see companies do much more to make life easier for their customers, accurate bills are the bare minimum they should expect from their energy suppliers.”

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