Energy, billing and rising prices – Resolver answers the big questions

6 min read
April 01, 2022

Resolver has been flooded by enquiries from people desperately worried about their energy bills. In recent weeks, price rises of 54% have been applied to people’s bills, leading to huge concern about affordability both now and later in the year – when many reports suggest that bills could hit an average of £3,000.

What can you do?

It’s clear from the enquiries we’ve received that many people simply feel that there’s nothing they can do about the price increases. In this article we’ll cover some of the best energy saving tips for people looking to cut their bills. But did you know you can also use Resolver to:

 

  • Contact an energy firm if you’re struggling to get in touch with them?
  • Get help if you are in financial difficulties and need to know more about the options available for you.
  • Solve a problem over new billing, missing credits and problems if you were transferred to a new provider.
  • Sort out a complaint about incorrect bills from the previous year or more.
  • Get help with a meter that doesn’t seem to be working properly.
  • Seek compensation for an error.

Get help today for free through Resolver. It’s really easy to use our website to contact a firm or make a complaint. [link

What help is there for me if I can’t pay my bills?

There are a range of things you can do if you’re struggling to pay your bills but the most important thing is to speak up as soon as possible. OFGEM’s rules state energy providers must work with you to come up with an affordable plan – but you have to be prepared to give them a bit of information about your circumstances in order to do so. These solutions might include:

  • A review of your regular bill payments and debt repayments
  • Payment breaks or reductions
  • More time to pay back outstanding debts
  • Access to hardship funds
  • Suggestions on better tariffs or energy saving methods

You may have heard of help and support for older people or people who might be vulnerable. The Priority Services Register is a free support service to help all kinds of people who might need this support. You need to contact your energy provider to get on the list but it’s free to do so. Find out more here: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/energy-advice-households/getting-extra-help-priority-services-register

The Government’s proposals to reduce bills will involve an automatic reduction of your bill in October by £200 – though this is a loan and will be added back at £50 a year from April 2023 for the next five years. You’ll also get an automatic £150 debit from your Council Tax that you don’t have to pay back.

Resolver’s analysis of energy complaint data reveals that a third of the cases made in the last 12 months were from people who could be considered to be ‘vulnerable’. So if you need help or support, make sure the business knows about your situation when you contact them through Resolver.

My energy provider recently went bust – what happens now?

Regulator of the energy industry, OFGEM, has a ‘safety net’ for people affected when their energy company goes bust. Around 26 energy companies collapsed in the wake of wholesale price increases in the last few months, which means millions of people will have found themselves with a new energy provider, new bills and plenty of questions.

As soon as a business goes bust the process will begin. You are allowed to cancel your direct debit after a transfer to the new provider but in theory, you shouldn’t have to do anything.

Because of the sheer scale of transfers that occurred it’s inevitable that mistakes will happen. In fact OFGEM reported over a million switching errors in 2020 – before the energy crisis began.

Just as an extra layer of complication, thousands of people were ‘mid-switch’ at the point their new or old provider collapsed, resulting in confusion over who was providing the supply of gas or electricity at the time – and who should be sorting out billing disputes. If you think an error has occurred, then use Resolver to get the problem sorted out.

 Should I switch?

Switching is ordinarily a great way to save money and Resolver recommends you do this to save cash. In the past, switching energy providers could save you up to £300 a year. But the fact of the matter is making big savings isn’t possible right now – and even if it were, the best advice would be to stay put, at least for the time being. And that includes price fixing.

You can still switch to save money with other services though, from broadband to insurance. And there are lots of other ways to save some cash to counter the rise in energy prices. Check out Resolver’s guide to saving cash just by cancelling regular payments (potentially saving over £1,000) https://news.resolver.co.uk/start-the-year-with-a-blast-by-claiming-back-some-cash/

I’ve been transferred over to a new provider but I’m missing my credit balance – why?

Worryingly, we’re hearing a lot of complaints from people who have existing credit balances with suppliers who have gone bust but are being told they are ‘missing’.

We understand that this is really troubling, but don’t forget that OFGEM say these credit balances are protected. Often it’s just a case of waiting for the new provider to locate the balance. However, you can make a complaint and go to the Energy Ombudsman if you don’t hear anything. You could also go to the administrator of the old energy provider too. You can find this firm through searching for the old provider on most search drives. Watch out for dodgy firms offering to help you find your balance for a fee.

I’ve just had a new bill and it’s clearly wrong – how can I get help?

By far the biggest source of complaint at the moment is from people being billed huge amounts for their energy consumption, often after a supplier switch. It’s clear from many of the complaints we’ve seen that there’s obviously a problem as the consumption isn’t realistic or feasible.

If this happens to you, report the meter or readings as faulty. If your previous or current supplier has been working off estimates for a long time or not recording your readings, then you may be able to appeal the bill even if the meter is correct. Go through your bills and check when the meter was last read properly. See if you have records of your readings and when you gave them too.

It makes sense to photo your meter whenever you read it so you have a back up – and with prices so high, to give a reading to the energy firm whenever you can. But if all else fails, you can make a formal complaint to the business and go to the Ombudsman if they don’t sort things out.

Your energy provider may ask you to do daily meter readings for seven days to see if there’s an obvious problem. But ultimately, if the readings make no sense, it’s for the energy firm to sort out the problem. This can involve sending out engineers to assess the meter’s performance or even a forensic analysis of your bills.

How do I make a complaint?

Resolver can help you make a complaint for free about anything energy related, from incorrect billing to switching errors. Get started here: https://www.resolver.co.uk/

There is a free Energy Ombudsman too if you still aren’t happy. We’ll automatically refer you to them if your complaint isn’t sorted out.

 

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