More than 1.3 million customers overcharged, website warns

uSwitch claims billing errors have cost customers a total of £102 million

The consumer website uSwitch.com has claimed 1.3 million energy customers have been overcharged in the last year due to supplier mistakes.

According to new research published today (16 August) by the website, those customers have been overcharged by a total of  £102 million – the equivalent of more than £79 each – as a result of billing errors by energy companies over the last 12 months.

uSwitch claimed nearly one in three (28 per cent) of those affected said that they were charged for an amount that didn’t match the meter readings they had supplied, while a quarter (26 per cent) said that their bill didn’t add up correctly.

Other billing blunders include suppliers getting direct debit amounts wrong, applying incorrect fees and getting tariff or product details wrong.

The research also found consumers have faced lengthy waiting times to resolve the billing blunders.

On average, it took those affected 35 days to get a refund, with one in ten (9 per cent) waiting between one and two months to get their money back and almost a third (28 per cent) waiting more than two months to be repaid.

The website’s energy expert, Claire Osborne, said: “Customers having to pay the price for suppliers’ mistakes is unacceptable. Households are already feeling the pinch from recent energy price rises, and having to chase for an average of 35 days to get their money back simply adds insult to injury.

“We want to see companies do much more to make life easier for their customers, accurate bills are the bare minimum they should expect from their energy suppliers.”

A spokesman for Ofgem said it has “taken strong action to address billing failures by suppliers”, with suppliers paying out more than £40 million as a result of its investigations into these and related customer service issues in the last two years.

“Suppliers are required by Ofgem to treat their customers fairly – if a customer thinks that their supplier has made a billing mistake, they should contact them,” said the spokesman.

“We are working with suppliers to make bills easier to understand and Ofgem’s rules already require suppliers to make clear on bills whether they are based on a customer’s actual or estimated energy usage. Smart meters will address the issue of estimated readings as these consumers will be billed based on their actual energy usage.”