Check if your energy provider is overcharging you with five steps

Smart Energy share tips for reducing energy bills

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Earlier in the year, Ofgem warned energy suppliers to tighten up direct debit policies after it found several companies were taking too much money from customers on automatic payments. With the new energy price guarantee now in effect bringing yearly bills for an average household up to a staggering £2,500, Britons will want to be certain they’re being charged accurate bills.

If someone thinks they may be being overcharged by their supplier, it is important they take action as soon as possible. However, some may not know exactly where to start.

Here are five steps people should take if they suspect their bill is incorrect.

Step one: Check the tariff hasn’t gone up

Depending on the tariff a person’s on, a gas or electricity supplier is obliged to provide fair notice of any price rises.

Pranjal Arya, chief commercial officer at boiler and home cover provider Hometree said: “Energy suppliers must now give their customers at least 30 days’ advance notice of price increases or changes in their contracts.

“Therefore, if you can identify your tariff has increased and you were not informed by your supplier, you can raise a complaint.”

This also applies if a person’s contract ends and it auto-renews with a price increase – even seasonal price changes must be communicated.

Step two: Closely monitor meter readings

Before taking any action against a provider, people should ensure their bill is definitely incorrect and double check they’re being charged more than they should be.

Mr Arya said: “Whilst over half of UK homes now have a smart meter, there are still a significant number of properties that don’t.”

Therefore, Mr Arya continued: “If you don’t have a smart meter, it is important to keep a close eye on your bills by regularly noting down your readings and comparing them to your current tariff. Checking at the same time each month alongside other admin tasks, like paying bills, can be a handy way to get into the habit of checking regularly.”

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Energy providers who estimate a household’s energy bill can sometimes accidentally overcharge, making it important to submit readings regularly to ensure greater accuracy.

Mr Arya said: “Four readings over the course of a year or one every three months is recommended. Having a set of accurate readings will help build your case when proving your bills are incorrect.”

Step 3: Check the smart meter is working properly

For those who do have a smart meter, it’s worth checking that the actual readings on the meter match what appears on the bill.

If they are different, it could mean the meter isn’t working properly and this needs to be fixed by the person’s provider.

Mr Arya said: “If this happens, you should get in touch with the energy supplier to explain the problem as soon as possible.

“In this case, they should be willing to issue a revised bill. Again, this is another reason why taking regular meter readings is important.”

Step 4: File a complaint with the provider

Once a person is certain their bills aren’t accurate, Mr Arya suggests filing a complaint with the gas or electricity provider.

He said: “In order to dispute this, you will need to be able to provide solid reasoning, stating why you think you’ve been charged the wrong amount and include evidence to support your claim. Evidence can include your customer account or reference number, copies of the bill you are challenging and rationale for the dispute.”

To file a complaint with an energy provider, people can usually call, use their online chat, email or post.

Mr Arya said: “Your supplier should always have a complaints procedure detailed on their website, along with all suitable contact details.

“It is recommended that you keep a copy of everything for your own records. This is because if you don’t successfully get the outcome you want, you may want to escalate the matter.”

Step 5: Take the complaint to The Energy Ombudsman

If the complaints procedure has been completed properly and the issue has not been resolved within eight weeks, complaints can be taken to The Energy Ombudsman.

Mr Ayra said: “The Ombudsman Service has the authority to enforce your provider to take action, which can be a more impactful way of resolving your issue.”

However, he continued: “It is important to note that within nine months of submitting your original complaint to your energy provider, you should file the complaint with the Ombudsman.”

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