If you are one of the millions of people who choose to pay their energy bills via a monthly direct debit transaction, then you may know the feeling of getting hit with an inflated sum.
Despite the allure of saving around £75-£90 a year by using direct debit payments, your energy supplier can overestimate your usage and that can lead to you being charged for more than you’re actually using.
Because suppliers base your estimate usage over a 12-month period, you are ultimately paying the same amount during the cold winter months as you are in the humid summer period where the heating will be switched off.
However, there are ways in which you can avoid a situation such as this one. Getting back overpaid money and lowering your direct debit energy cost ultimately comes down to persistence, consistency and a little bit of fight.
Submit regular energy meter readings
This seems simple enough but it would surprise you how many people fail to regularly submit their meter readings.Failing to do so could lead to inaccurate charges, as suppliers will judge your payment off an estimate if they aren’t provided with the actual reading.
This should be step one before contacting your supplier. You could find out if you’ve been overpaying, and if so, will know by how much and how much you should actually be being charged.
Contact your energy supplier
Has your supplier increased your direct debit? If so, get in touch immediately as tackling the issue head on can lead to a potential refund. Under condition 27 of the Gas Supply License, your supplier MUST give a clear explanation as to why your price has suddenly hiked.
Also stated under condition 27 is the supplier’s requirement of setting a fair and accurate direct debit levels. Steps must be taken in order to ensure the customer is paying for energy which has been collated based on the best available information, taking into granted the quantity of gas and electricity supplied.
Weigh up possible scenarios
There’s usually a reason why your direct debit price has increased, so you’ll need to explore why in order to arm yourself with the appropriate facts and questions when it comes to confronting your supplier.
Have you recently switched supplier? Amazingly, some unlucky folk who jump ship to a ‘lower’ cost company find themselves paying more than they previously were. Your new supplier will argue this is because they don’t know your current usage, so it’s raised in order to cover the cost. Collecting past usage levels will help you in this situation.
If your supplier has supplier has increased your direct debit and not informed you, you have the right to claim complain and ask for compensation, as this is a breach of Direct Debit Guarantee.
Finally, your supplier could inform you they are increasing their direct debit prices. In this instance, attempt to deal with an unfair price rise before the new costs are set in stone.
How to claim back energy credit
In this modern economy of scrimping and scraping by, we look after the pennies and hope that the pounds will look after themselves… But there are some really easy ways to claim back tens if not hundreds of pounds that you could be entitled to.
In this environment of industry watchdogs and customer charters we would naturally assume that our energy suppliers are doing all they can for their customers. As a matter of fact, energy regulator Ofgem has recently stated that it “expects consumers to do more” to reclaim overpaid bills which were in credit prior to an energy switch.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of this and so do not chase the credit, having already benefitted financially by switching. If a loved one passes away it can be terribly stressful dealing with their estate; remembering to take a meter reading is the last thing on your mind. The energy giants know this and so will send ream after ream of estimated bill until out of frustration you just pay the bill to get them off your back, but you could be paying way over the odds, all for the sake of a meter reading.
Every little helps
Struggling to make ends meet this month? Why not take a look at your energy bill if it’s in credit that money belongs to you! Often the calculation your energy firm uses to estimate your average bill can be skewed dependent on what time of year they took the estimate or the number of people who were living in your home at the time.
If one of your kids has gone off to University, this could make a huge difference to the amount of energy you use and so you may find that you are paying well over the odds based on your current circumstances. The fact is , if you need it more this month but your supplier won’t need it till the bitter chill really takes hold, this is a far, far cheaper way of keeping the wolf from the door this Winter.
Challenging energy companies
But surely all of this is small fry compared to hefty profits that the fat cats are taking home? Well, in truth yes it is. In a truly competitive market tariffs should be competitive and the relative ease of switching should be forcing energy companies to reduce their prices. Unfortunately, so far since being challenged by Energy Minister, Amber Rudd last year, customers on standard tariffs have only seen a measly 2.7% reduction on average. But, this is all about to change.
The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) is set to announce their findings in response to this challenge next month. The CMA is designed to ensure competitiveness exists within industry, their hotly anticipated announcement is likely to be great news for consumers and more money in your pocket, so watch this space!