Debt problems ‘often the result of energy bill errors’

With many people getting into large amounts of debt through loans, credit cards, mortgages and other means, the last thing some will need is to find t…

With many people getting into large amounts of debt through loans, credit cards, mortgages and other means, the last thing some will need is to find they owe more money because of mistakes by their gas and electricity providers.

However, that is exactly what has been happening to many householders all over the country as the utility providers have frequently sent out erroneous bills.

A uSwitch study has indicated 27 per cent of householders have had at least one incorrect bill in the past two years, with 14 per cent suffering this fate two or more times.

While this may not be so bad for those overcharged – as they can get an unexpected windfall in the shape of a refund – 40 per cent of these cases have left people owing money to their energy companies.

The average figure for this in the past year has been £147, but 14 per cent have ended up owing between £200 and £400, while eight per cent have had to find more than £400 extra.

Director of consumer policy at the site Ann Robinson remarked: “Inaccurate bills are no laughing matter for consumers who can end up out of pocket and wasting time and effort trying to resolve billing blunders.”

However, she noted energy firms were not voted the worst for such errors by consumers in its poll, with the Inland Revenue being considered even more prone to mistakes.

One good piece of news for consumers hit by high energy bills came last month when regulator Ofgem imposed a new rule obliging firms to give 30 days advance notice when planning to raise charges.

This will give consumers time to look for as cheaper deal elsewhere and switch over when they find one.

By Amy White

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