How to complain to your energy provider

13 November 2014

Older consumers are battling energy companies with complaints ranging from suddenly receiving a huge bill to failure to return credit.



How can you get money off your electricity bills?

You may not have received a bill for over a year, through no fault of your own. Alternatively, you could find bills fail to reflect your usage. So what can you do if your energy provider fails to meet acceptable trading standards?

Here are a few frequently asked questions for your energy provider:

I’m in credit. Will my supplier pay this back automatically?

 

Most of us pay our bills by direct debit. However, by paying the same sum every month for our energy supply you may find you build up a surplus when the heating is turned off.

Rules state that if you ask for a refund of credit held on your account at any time, it must be returned.

Who will refund credit on my energy bills?

 

Five of the big six suppliers will refund any credit over £5 automatically at a yearly account review. These include British Gas, Eon, EDF Energy, Npower and SSE.

Scottish Power will only automatically refund customers who’ve built up more than £100 credit on their account. However, it reviews direct debit payments four times a year to ensure you’re paying around the right sum in the first place.

I’ve suddenly received a large demand for unbilled energy usage. Must I pay?

 

Consumers often take complaints to the energy ombudsman after being landed with a hefty bill. This is typically after the supplier has failed to take payment for some time. For more information about the energy ombudsman visit ombudsman-services.org/energy

However, there are clear rules in place for how much your supplier can ask you to pay. It cannot demand repayment of bills going back over 12 months if the delay isn’t your fault.


I keep receiving bills on estimated usage. What should I do?

 

Some suppliers regularly review customers' accounts to ensure that payments accurately reflect energy usage. However, it's worth checking yourself that you’re paying the right amount.

You don’t want a big debt building up that you cannot afford to pay at the end of a payment year. It's a good idea to give meter readings to your supplier several times a year to make sure your bills are accurate.

Cycles of estimated bills often lead to debt. Suppliers may deduct this as a lump sum from your direct debit account, but should be willing to spread the debt over the next year.

What if I am finding it difficult to pay my energy bills?

 

If you are finding it hard to pay your energy bills, ask for a repayment plan to be set up – and if your direct debit amount needs changing, your supplier must explain why.


Where can I seek advice about energy bills?


If you have a problem with your energy bills, the first step is to contact your supplier to give them a chance to resolve the issue.

You can take your issue to the ombudsman eight weeks after it’s passed to the supplier, if there still isn’t a resolution.

Alternatively, you can take it earlier if your supplier has sent a deadlock letter saying it can do no more.

You can also contact Citizens Advice for guidance on 08454 040506.

 


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.