Which? has asked the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and energy regulator Ofgem to investigate whether energy suppliers who allow customers to build up large debts through underpaid bills are breaching consumer regulations.
Customers can be left owing huge amounts from years of underpayment because their energy bills have been based on estimates instead of meter readings.
Energy bill underpayments
An industry code of practice requires suppliers to take a meter reading at least once every two years in order to prevent unexpectedly large bills – but according to a survey of over 2,500 Which? members, 30% have been contacted by their energy supplier demanding additional money to cover underpayments.
Which? is also concerned that in some cases, customer accounts aren’t being updated even when they contact their energy supplier with regular meter readings, leaving customers to believe that they are paying the correct amount when their bills are still based on estimates.
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Regular energy meter readings
A separate survey conducted by Which? found that up to a quarter of gas and electricity customers do not find it easy to understand how much they owe their energy supplier. Which? is campaigning for clearer bills – find out more about our .
‘It’s irresponsible for suppliers to let their customers slip into what can be huge amounts of debt without them realising it. We want the OFT and Ofgem to take a hard line against firms found to be breaching consumer protection regulations,’ says Dr Fiona Cochrane, Which? energy campaigner.
‘To avoid getting a nasty shock in the future, we’d advise consumers to pass regular meter readings to their energy supplier and check that their account is being updated.’
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