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7 Mar 2022

'My energy direct debit is being increased by more than £300 per month, is it right?'

An Octopus energy customer got in touch with Which? to report an electricity bill that had gone up from £39 to an eye watering £334 a month

Do you have an issue you need to put right? Which? is here to help get your consumer problems sorted.

Dear Which?,

I've been an Octopus customer for about four years, and we were on a very affordable fixed tariff for our electricity and gas. Late last year we moved into a new house with no gas supply, so everything is electric.

We've only submitted two meter readings since we moved in and Octopus has reviewed our monthly payments. Increasing them from £39.44 to £333.16.

There's only two of us in the house, it's extraordinary we could have to pay this much. I'm now really worried about the price cap rising in April and October - it will be impossible to sustain that kind of amount per month.

What can I do?

Alan, Northamptonshire

Ease the squeeze on your household bills with our latest cost of living advice and tips

Put to Rights

Adam French, Which? Consumer rights expert saysu2026

Electricity is more expensive per unit than gas, so I would prepare for the fact your bills will go up, but the amount you've been quoted sounds very high.

At the time of writing none of Octopus' current fixed rate tariffs are more than £250 a month, which is for the highest-demand uses.

When we contacted Octopus it told us that due to an unusual meter error it has only been charging you for the gas you've been using, and not the electricity. It meant that on average your Direct Debit was less than half of what it was supposed to be.

The error only came to light when you moved house and submitted your final readings.

An Octopus spokesperson said 'We have made sure to not bill the electricity which he used in his previous home but did not pay for from 2019-2021.

'One of our operations managers has explained this to him and suggested to always get in touch with us if he is not paying as much as he expects.

'We are now getting accurate readings of his electricity usage and have given him some advice on how to check his appliances aren't unnecessarily wasting energy.

'We are also in the process of installing a smart meter to help him get a better understanding of his usage and keep an eye on his bills in the coming months.

Octopus also credited Alan with a goodwill payment and has put in place a more manageable monthly payment plan.

Need to know

  • If your direct debit doesn't feel right, question it. The price cap on default and variable tariffs is increasing by 54% on 1 April. If your direct debit increases by more than that you should question it with your energy provider.
  • Back-billing principle. Ofgem rules mean energy suppliers cannot charge you for energy usage from more than 12 months ago, if the supplier itself is at fault for not billing the household correctly. This is known as the Back-Billing Principle.
  • Financial support is available. Check your energy company's code of practice to find out its policy on helping customers in difficult circumstances. Look in the help or FAQs section of its website, or phone the company. Many of the biggest energy companies have independent charitable trusts to give grants to some customers to help them pay for fuel arrears.
  • Octopus customers can get in touch with it at hello@octopus.energy if they are worried about their bills or to discuss hardship funds and other support.

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