New guidelines have been introduced which aim to make it easier for consumers to understand their household bills.
The British Standards Institution (BSI) says it has drawn up the voluntary rules to make inaccurate and confusing bills a thing of the past.
It is now urging companies to adopt the guidelines and put an end to what it calls the ‘UK’s billing nightmare.’
The BSI’s new voluntary standard applies to both traditional utilities, such as water, gas and electricity, and also more recently introduced services such as mobile phone and internet services.
Companies adopting the standard would have to make sure it clearly showed exactly which period of time was covered by the bill and how much was owed by the customer.
Malcolm Wicks, Minister of State for Energy, said: ‘This new billing standard launched by BSI offers the opportunity for streamlining and improving the billing process and could bring substantial benefits to both industry and the consumer.
‘It is important that the industry, working with others, produce meaningful solutions that address billing problems and I’m sure they will rise to the challenge of better billing, drawing on this BSI standard.
‘Smart meters could also make a real difference in billing accuracy through remote reading and I encourage the industry to look closely at the potential and exploitation of this technology’.
Allan Asher, chief executive of the gas and electricity consumer watchdog Energywatch, also welcomed the guidelines: ‘We support this BSI Standard because it gives consumers, for the first time, a real prospect of getting an accurate and timely picture of their energy use.’
Asher continued: ‘The new standard will become the benchmark by which the energy industry is judged.’