Seven in ten people overcharged on household bills

People in the UK are being urged to check through their household bills to ensure they have not been overcharged as a new survey revealed seven in ten…

People in the UK are being urged to check through their household bills to ensure they have not been overcharged as a new survey revealed seven in ten have paid too much in the last year.

The survey from the independent price comparison service uSwitch found people paid out as much as £6.7 billion in total when they shouldn't have and 95 per cent of all cases were identified by the customer rather than the bill provider.

For this reason it is essential for individuals to check their bills to see if they are correct. The companies found to be overcharging on household bills include utility, telecoms and mortgage firms. Considering these sectors take large chunks of people's incomes overcharging can be disastrous.

Worryingly, a third of consumers (33 per cent) have been overcharged more than once, with one in ten falling victim to it more than three times in the past year.

The average amount people have been overcharged by is £196 – although more than one in ten (11 per cent) have been overcharged by £400 or more.

Charges that were added when they shouldn't have been was the main cause of overcharging, with 42 per cent of all cases being attributed to this. Other reasons include incorrect tariff or product details being used (32 per cent) or a special offer or discount not being applied to the bill (25 per cent). Astonishingly, in the past year a quarter of consumers have simply had a household bill that did not add up.

The current climate in the UK is hard, especially for those lumbered with debt, and overcharging can cause a massive amount of grief to those losing out. However, despite this, those who were overcharged in the past year had to wait an average of 53 days to get their money back, while more than one in ten (13 per cent) were left waiting between two to six months. 

Some 12 per cent of people surveyed are still trying to get the issue resolved, while six per cent never got their money returned to them.

People are advised to check their bills thoroughly for anything that appears incorrect as they may be getting charged more than they should be.

By Joe White

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