I don’t watch the news much so miss out on these gems! However, my friend told me about it knowing i’d want to blog about it! So here it is! All about how we could be avoid debt but still get into it thanks to estimated bills. It’s not as depressing as most of the other news items, it’s easily solved and pretty pain free. We need to email/ring or write to our providers and give them accurate meter readings. no big deal right?
So anyway read on to be convinced about why making this little bit of effort could help you out heaps. 🙂
Energy customers with estimated bills could be racking up debts of hundreds of pounds without realising it, according to Citizens Advice. The charity says thousands of people have got in touch over their estimated gas and electric bills.
In the worst cases people have found they owed over £1,000 when they thought their direct debits were covering their energy costs. It blamed the problem on spiralling tariffs and billing issues.
Tony Herbert, a senior policy officer with Citizens Advice, said with energy costs forecast to rise further this winter, the problem is likely to get worse.
“Families can rack up huge fuel bills without even realising it because the amount they’re paying is actually based on estimated readings.” “They might have a direct debit set up; they might think they’re paying their bills,” he said. “But because they’re paying on estimated readings it may not reflect how much they’re actually using.”
The BBC learned last month that household energy bills could increase by as much as 40% this winter as oil and wholesale gas prices hit record highs. The increases could mean households paying £400 more a year on average for their gas and electricity, senior industry sources said.
Richard Mann is one gas customer who has found out how inaccurate estimated bills can be.
For the last two years, all his gas bills have been estimated. His gas supplier originally set his direct debit at £15 a month, but then reduced it when his account was in credit. However, last month he received a bill saying he owed £238 and that his direct debit would have to rise ten fold to pay it.
“It’s a big jump and we have to find that money from somewhere,” he said. “We’re a family we have bills to pay so every penny counts at the moment.”
The consumer watchdog Energywatch says a third of all bills are estimated and therefore could be wrong.
“They’re not based on real meter readings, they’re not based on real consumption data,” said Energywatch’s Adam Scorer. “You can just imagine the problems that will come out from the fact that a third of bills in Britain are by and large wrong.”
However, the Energy Retail Association, which represents the gas and electricity companies, said that the majority of the 200 million bills the industry sends out each year are correct.
“It is hardly surprising that the majority of complaints or enquiries that anyone gets are going to be about billing, because that is the way that most energy companies will actually touch their customers,” said Duncan Sedgwick, the association’s chief executive.
With energy bills set to rise sharply in the winter, both energy companies and advice organisations are recommending that people keep a close eye on their bills and check their gas and electricity meters themselves.