Many of us will be tricked into a false sense of security with our bills. We trust entirely that the multi-million-pound business that provides us with a service, with all of their thousands of employees and departments, have somehow managed to calculate with complete accuracy the value that little old you owe.
What is even more impressive is that for the most part, we will blindly pay the total asked of us… every single month.
This would be more understandable if we lived in a perfect world, filled with perfect people who could never make a mistake.
But, we don’t. Mistakes happen. What’s more, all too often it is the consumers who are left to pick up the pieces when businesses make one.
What are the most common mistakes on energy bills?
Uswitch has found that energy suppliers are the worst offenders when it comes to providing accurate billing for their customers – for eight years in a row! Ofgem has even dished out fines to the big six totalling well over £50,000,000 for miss-billing.
It is difficult to say with absolute certainty what the most common mistakes made are. Energy suppliers range from huge multinational companies, to smaller local operators – each operating in their own slightly unique way.
After checking over 14,000 customer bills, it was found that just over 8% were incorrect. Unsurprisingly, this was overwhelmingly in the favour of the supplier. Other common mistakes found are:
- Direct Debit amounts miscalculated – 8% of all bills
- Application of incorrect fees – 7% of all bills
- Wrong tariff and/or product details – 5% of all bills
- Sending the bill to the wrong customer(s) – 5% of all bills
Why is this an issue?
All of us require energy in some form. Whether it is to light our houses, cook our meals, or to fuel a business site. This means that any one of us could fall victim to ‘bad billing’ and as such will be massively overpaying for our energy.
Additionally, energy suppliers have been found to be the worst offenders for dishing out inaccurate bills time and time again.
This means that we are all vulnerable to paying out way more of our hard-earned cash to lazy energy suppliers who are aware of the problem, and yet have done nothing to fix it.
Are you angry yet? You should be.
What are the causes of invoicing mistakes in the energy industry?
We have included more detailed information on the causes of incorrect billing in our article ‘insert link to other bill validation article’. If you would like further information on bill validation, then this is a good place to head!
For gas and electricity customers, the causes of errors within bills are very similar:
- New IT systems: When suppliers upgrade or change IT systems, there are often some teething pains. Mistakes also occur when customers switch suppliers, as there is some degree of data transfer needed.
- Old outdated meters: Many older meters do not provide very accurate readings when compared to modern standards.
- Faulty meters: If your meter is wrong, then so too will your bill! Meters should be maintained and serviced to catch the problem as early as possible.
- Human error: Sometimes people make mistakes! There doesn’t always have to be a rhyme or reason.
- Company neglect of billing rates: Rates and fees vary based upon geography, time of day, day of the week etc. This is a vast dataset so plenty of room for error.
The ‘Fantastic Five’ of Invoice Validation
In order to avoid overpaying on invoices that are littered with mistakes, it is a good idea to attempt to ‘validate’ your bill. Bill invoice/validation doesn’t necessarily need to be completed by a trained professional, although it is recommended for the best results. To put it simply, bill validation is the process of checking your expected bill against your actual bill to see if you are being overcharged.
For anybody who would like to give it a try but doesn’t know where to start, try focussing on these five areas to begin with:
|What to check||Description|
|Contract Rates||Dig out your copy of your contract – and look for the rate per unit of energy that you agreed to pay. This is the most important place to start.|
|Meter Charges||Sometimes you may be charged a fee for the meter you have installed. Often, this catches customers off-guard.|
|Standing Charges||Standing charges are fixed daily charges simply for using that energy supplier.|
|Consumption Data||This will vary dependent on what type of customer you are, as-well as what meter type you have installed. Try to find as much information as you can on how much energy you have used.|
|VAT Rate||VAT is a governmental tax that you are required to pay. It is worth double-checking the amount you are being charged as not all customers are required to pay the same amount.|
I have found a mistake and contacted my supplier – what now?
If you have reported a mistake to your supplier, then you have done the majority of the hard work already!
The most difficult part about bill validation is actually finding a mistake. Once it has been reported, then your supplier must uphold their end of the agreement and attempt to rectify the situation.
But what does this actually look like? How do you know if your supplier is taking your complaint seriously?
- Respond quickly to any correspondence: If you have made a complaint regarding incorrect billing, then this should be a priority for your energy supplier.
- Empathetic employees: Money concerns are a huge source of stress for all of us. If employees aren’t willing to listen or display empathy, it is a sign of a lack of training in complaints handling.
- Make it easy to complain: If you think that you are having to jump through a lot of unnecessary hoops just to have your voice heard, then it is not a good sign.
- Seek out the root of the problem: Suppliers should try to provide a reason as to why they have overcharged you – partially for peace of mind, but mostly so the same mistake doesn’t happen again!
Why validating your own bills doesn’t work…
For many business customers, they are simply too busy trying to run and operate a business.
This isn’t to say that it can’t be done, but it is considerably more difficult than for domestic customers. Often with increased scale of consumption comes increased complexity of invoicing. It is incredibly unlikely there is anyone within the company with the time or training who is able to complete the in-depth analysis needed.
Fortunately, the call for highly-trained energy invoice validation experts has been answered!
Who can help?
It is incredibly important that whoever you choose to partner with for invoice validation has a wealth of experience in that industry. This leads to a higher likelihood of catching any mistakes, and reaching a favourable conclusion.
So, when looking for somebody to help validate your energy bills there really is only one choice – Energy Solutions
Energy Solutions have been in the energy procurement business for over 20 years – so know utilities invoicing like the back of their hands. Being in the business for so long has led to the development of outstanding relations with all of their partners – which includes big names like EDF, SSE, E. ON, and Gazprom.
Energy Solutions do not overpromise, and typically recover 5% of utility bill value for their customers. Their highly trained staff can operate either on a fixed-fee or on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means that if no savings are to be found, then you don’t have to pay for the service!
So, if you are interested in saving cash on your energy bill – give Energy Solutions a call today on:
0131 610 1688
Or, submit a webform query here.
Why do mistakes occur on energy bills?
Mistakes on energy invoices can often be attributed to the same sources time and time again: Upgrading to new IT systems and associated teething problems, old and outdated meters, faulty meters, human error, and company neglect of billing rates.
What are common mistakes on energy bills?
Although it varies between customer type – the most common types of mistakes are: Getting direct debit amounts wrong, applying incorrect fees and charges, applying wrong tariff or product details, sending the bill to the wrong customer.
I found a mistake in my energy bill – what does it mean?
Most likely that you could potentially save a little bit of money! If you have found a mistake within your invoice, contact your energy supplier immediately.
What is bill validation?
Bill validation is exactly as it sounds. It is the process of checking bills for any mistakes or miscalculations so the customer doesn’t end up overpaying.
How to choose a bill validation provider?
Make sure to focus on things like customer reviews and industry experience, as these will give a more accurate portrayal of the company and likelihood of success. Try to research as many companies and quotes as you can!
Why is my energy bill wrong?
It is always more likely that your calculations are wrong and not those of your energy supplier – so double check your working!
Energy suppliers do get it wrong sometimes, and this can be for a multitude of reasons. We have included the most common reasons, locations, and some additional information about invoice validation in this article.