Following a spate of wild energy bill inaccuracies in recent months, Britons may be wondering how to check their bills are correct and, if not, how to claim the money back.
Unexpected increases in energy bills should be investigated “straight away”, one expert has said, and here are steps to take to do so.
Les Roberts, the business comparison expert at Bionic said: “If you’ve noticed an unexpected increase in your bill, you should investigate the underlying reasons for this change straight away.
According to the expert, the increase could be due to one of the following factors:
- Households may receive an estimated bill that is inaccurate
- The energy provider has raised its prices
- Households may have been charged for the wrong meter
- A household’s meter is faulty
- The energy supplier has made a mistake and overcharged.
What should I do if I think my energy bill is wrong?
For those with an estimated bill, Mr Roberts said: “If you find that your estimated bill is excessively high, take a meter reading and send this to your supplier so they can re-estimate your bill.
“To ensure that your bills stay accurate, submit a meter reading to your supplier every month.”
People can also contact their energy supplier’s customer service or complaints department. Mr Roberts said: “You can locate their contact details on their official website and communicate your concerns via letter or email.”
Mr Roberts suggested people keep copies of all correspondence sent to their supplier, including their energy bills. He explained: “By keeping a record of when each communication was dispatched, this will be helpful in tracking the progress of your complaint.”
Additionally, people should keep supporting evidence for their case at hand. Mr Roberts said: “This includes bills, photographs of faulty meters or boilers, and records of previous interactions with your energy provider.”
Finally, Mr Roberts said: “Reach a deadlock. This signifies that you’ve exhausted your energy company’s internal complaints procedure without achieving a resolution.
“Energy suppliers typically have a maximum time limit of eight weeks to resolve most complaints. If your complaint reaches a deadlock situation, you can escalate it to the Energy Ombudsman.”
When should I contact the energy ombudsman?
If a person has completed their energy supplier’s complaints process and is unable to resolve the issue, or if they haven’t received a decision within eight weeks, they have the option to refer their complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.
Mr Roberts said: “The Energy Ombudsman Service operates independently and is free to use. They possess the authority to compel an energy supplier to take appropriate action, which may include practical solutions to address your problem, issuing an apology, or providing compensation.
“It’s essential to submit your complaint to the ombudsman within 12 months of receiving the deadlock letter or final response from your energy supplier.”
What support does my provider have to give if I can’t pay my bill?
If it’s the case that the energy bills are correct and the household cannot afford to pay them, Mr Roberts said the “most important step” is to contact the supplier. It is obliged to outline options, such as organising a payment plan.
Mr Roberts explained: “Under official Ofgem rules, your provider must organise an affordable payment plan and as part of this, consumers have the right to ask for a bill review to see if the amount is correct, a break from payments until you can afford to pay, a reduction to an affordable rate, access to advice on how to reduce energy usage or more time between payments.
“Your provider must also give you access to any available hardship funds, or charitable grants or help you apply for any available Government grants if they have not been automatically applied.