Energy bill mistakes leave consumers £270m out of pocket

7 Jun, 2016

Nearly four million energy consumers were overcharged a total of £270 million or £72 each due to billing mistakes by suppliers in the last year, according to new research from uSwitch.

Over a third (36%) of those whose supplier had made a mistake said the wrong tariff or product details had been applied. Other blunders include providers applying incorrect fees (31%), using the wrong meter reading (27%) and setting inaccurate Direct Debit amounts (24%).

Breakdown of bill error types

Energy supplier mistake 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 I provided 27%
The Direct Debit was wrong 24%
My 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%

Source: uSwitch.com survey, May 2016

Not only are billing blunders hitting consumers’ pockets, but also their time. Nearly a fifth (19%) waited between one and two months before the 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[3].

A spokesman for uSwitch said: “Consumers have a right to expect correct bills. It’s unacceptable in this day and age that customers are picking up the cost of suppliers’ mistakes. Households are already trying to cope with the high cost of energy and can’t afford the additional cost of simple blunders.

“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.”