Are You Being Overcharged on Your Household Bills?
Published: 10 July 2012 By Peter Thompson Leave a Comment
With families trying to save money, it is staggering to learn that 57% of consumers have been overcharged on at least one household bill, such as on their utilities, telecoms or mortgage bill, in the last year.
New research from uSwitch.com shows an ‘epidemic’ of overcharging on household bills in the last year, suggesting that companies responsible for essential bills, such as utilities, telecoms and mortgages, may have overcharged by more than £6 billion in the last year.
Alarmingly, 95% of cases of overcharging were identified by the customer rather than the bill provider.
Potentially 28 million people have been overcharged on at least one household bill in the last year, with a number having fallen victim two or more times.
The average amount that people have been overcharged by is £229, although 10% have been overcharged by £500 or more.
Finding the problem is only half the battle as those who have been overcharged have had to wait 58 days or almost two months on average to get the money repaid.
Unfortunately, not all have been so lucky as 12% of those overcharged in the last year are still trying to get the issue resolved while a further 13% never got their money back.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “There has been an epidemic of overcharging on household bills in the last year and yet we are still potentially looking at the tip of an iceberg. It seems to be down to consumers to spot where they have been overcharged and, with some household bills being so complicated, more instances will undoubtedly have slipped through the net.
“What this does tell us though is that people must look at their bills and not take it for granted that a company has got its sums right.
“I would also urge companies to do right by their customers too and to ensure that their bills are simple, clear and easy to understand.
“With 95% of overcharging spotted by customers rather than the bill provider, it’s imperative that consumers are able to spot and resolve any mistakes quickly.”
MoneyHighStreet comments: “It is absolutely vital that you do check your bills as Ann suggests. Don’t stop there though. If there are problems be prepared to follow up with the provider to get matters addressed – don’t give up at the first hurdle, make sure you persevere and get and refund monies you are due.
As most households are facing a struggle to make financial ends meet, many for example are already struggling with energy bills, without the added pressure of incorrect bills.
“As well as checking your bills, make sure you manage your energy as efficiently as you can – both by switching to the best energy deal to suit your needs and also to use only the energy you need to.
“Ensure you make your home energy efficient too. A third of the heat from a home is lost through the walls. Insulating walls and your loft can help you save significant sums of money.”
Perhaps the quickest way to make a saving on your energy bill is to find the cheapest energy prices.
Use a price comparison site like Moneysupermarket.com or uSwitch.com to find the best tariffs for energy online, either from your own supplier or a new one.
You’ll normally find that the way to make the biggest savings is to take out a dual fuel deal, pay by direct debit and choose an internet tariff – one that gets rid of paper bills.
However, be careful – dual fuel deals aren’t always the cheapest, and you may be able to make better savings on your energy bill by choosing separate suppliers for gas and electricity.
With a few simple changes, it’s possible to make big savings on your energy bills.
If you have other ideas that have worked for you, be sure to share them in the comments section below.