Are You Being Overcharged On Household Bills?
Independent switching service uSwitch recently ran a study that showed £6bn in overcharges that needn’t have been paid. uSwitch surveyed 1,300 consumers and found 57% were overcharged once or more, 26% were overcharged twice or more and 13% of them never got their money back! The types of household bills found to contain overcharge errors include energy, mortgage, phone and TV bills.
The average overcharge was £229 and for 10% of those overcharged, it was as high as a whopping £500 overcharge. Of those who were able to get their money back had to wait at least two months for the refund. For 12%, it took as much as six months to get a refund.
Do you monitor your household bills? Or do you just assume they’re correct? If you do check your bills, how closely do you look? 95% of time, it was the consumer that noticed the error, but even after that, it took quite a bit of effort to get the overcharge sorted. In just 7% of the surveyed cases was a refund automatic.
For the other 93% of overcharges, consumers were forced to sacrifice six hours (on average) writing letters, emails or making calls to get a correction and refund. The approximate cost of dealing with the overcharge resolution was £22. Just 48% of consumers asked for these collection costs to be reimbursed, and only half were successful in this request.
uSwitch’s director of consumer policy Ann Robinson 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 the 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.”
Even if you do examine your bills, do you know what you’re looking at? Turns out, many Britons don’t know how to read their increasingly complex bills and aren’t sure what their energy charges should be. A survey by data firm YouGov and electrical supplies company Rexel revealed 81% of bill-payers have no idea how much their energy costs are or should be.
The survey of 2,000 consumers showed fully one-third had either only a vague notion, or no idea at all, how much energy they consume and how much it should cost. Of those surveyed, the youngest consumers were most ignorant of costs of energy consumption, yet they are among the heaviest users because of their addiction to electronics devices. Retirees and older Brits were most aware of energy costs. 33% of 45 year olds knew costs and consumption while 20% of retirees were found to be energy savvy.
Rexel director Brian Smithers says, “It appears that most people are in the dark when it comes to their energy usage, which is particularly surprising given to rising energy bills and the continued squeeze on household finances. It’s like handing over your bank account details without looking at the bill.”
In our harsh economic climate, it’s important that we not allow ourselves to be further victimised by firms we transact with. It’s bad enough that we’ve been hit with PPI mis-selling and have to make claims for that, we shouldn’t have to make claims for our everyday expenses as well.
So be sure to check your bills each month and where possible, deactivate your direct debits. It’s much harder to get a company to give you money back – they don’t like to hand back cash. If you pay upon receipt of the bill and spot the error, you can call and ask for an adjustment and offer to pay only the corrected amount. The company is more likely to correct your account to get you to send in your payment. They have little motive to be reasonable if they’ve already got your money in their pocket!
Empire Claims is the #1 choice for recovering money you are owed for PPI products, bank and credit card charges. Their No Win No Fee philosophy means you don’t pay a penny if they don’t win your claim. If you believe you’re owed a claim from your bank, lender or other creditor contact Empire Claims to get help right away!