Overcharged on your energy bill? From British Gas to Octopus Energy, let’s get it sorted.

4 min read
November 12, 2019

When it comes to your energy bills, overcharging is the UK’s number one issue.

We’ve heard from thousands of people who’ve used Resolver to get billing issues sorted. We’ve guided consumers through issues with all the major energy companies in the UK – from British Gas to Octopus Energy. Their customer service teams normally do a great job – but there are a few things you should do at your end to make your life easier.

Here’s Resolver’s quick tips for getting overcharging issues sorted.

1) Always keep an eye on your energy meter. Meter readings are your friend.

Never underestimate how important it is to read your meter.

Reading your energy meter and sending meter readings to your energy provider stops them from sending you estimated bills.

Estimated bills are really easy to avoid and can end up getting you overcharged.

The best way to avoid high bills is by checking to see if you’re getting estimated bills. Have a look at the bill itself – if you spot the word “estimated”, your bill could be too high.

Estimated bills shouldn’t be a problem with smart meters. If you’ve got a traditional meter, though, it’s always worth checking!

You should know:

Energy companies are only allowed to give you estimated bills for energy you’ve used in the last year. They can’t “back-bill” any further than 12 months.

2) Confused about whether your account’s in credit? Don’t try and sort it out over the phone!

We always hear from consumers who’ve had trouble figuring out whether they’re in credit or not. We’ve heard from countless people who’ve called and called, only to get a different answer every time.

In Resolver’s experience, the absolute worst way to go about this is over the phone.

Things can get incredibly confused, especially when your account history is quite complicated. It’s far better to do this via Resolver (or by email).

It can be difficult to keep track of who’s said what and in which call. Making your enquiry via email or Resolver gives both you and the company a written record to go back to.

It’s important to remember that any billing changes might take a while to be reflected in your mail. If any letters contradict what you’ve been told, it’s best to get in touch with the company to find out what’s going on. Don’t panic! The letter may have been sent out before your credit issues were resolved.

3) Avoid the loyalty penalty

Something that has been in the news a lot recently is the “loyalty penalty” or “loyalty charge”.

If you’ve been with your energy provider for longer than a year, you might end up paying far more than a new customer would.

The Competition and Markets Authority investigated five industries (savings, mortgages, insurance, mobile and broadband) and found that around £4 billion extra a year was being paid out by loyal customers.

Here’s a few tips on avoiding the loyalty penalty:

When you sign a contract, put a note in to your calendar for when the contract runs out. Then go back a month and put a reminder in so you’re prepared in advance.

Shop around ahead of the contract renewal. Keep an eye on the news for bad/good deals and businesses that have been warned or fined.

Never assume your loyalty means you’ll be treated better. You probably won’t and can be overcharged.

Be wary of contracts that run over a year if you’re likely to change your lifestyle – you may have to pay fees to get out of them.

If you think you’ve been overcharged, here’s what you do:

Find out when you signed up to the contract and when the original one was supposed to expire.

Go on to the website for the business and see what you would be charged if you were a new customer for the same package.

Contact the business and ask them to explain why you’re paying a higher price than a new customer and ask them to reduce your bill or match the price.

The rules don’t say that the business has to refund you for what it’s over charged you, but you can make a complaint and ask for the money back.

You should know:

If you’ve recently switched provider, disputes over meter readings can be a big problem. Photograph your meter – this way you have concrete proof if any disputes arise.

This is also useful if you’re switched over to another provider when yours goes bust (like the big Iresa to Octopus Energy switch in 2018).

While companies may do a great job of honouring outstanding credit balances, it’s always best to keep a solid record – just in case.

This will help them resolve any issues quickly and efficiently.

That’s the lowdown on keeping your bills low…down…

Hope this helps!

Remember – if you’ve got any energy issues, get them sorted via Resolver.


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