Energy company refuses to use actual readings

edited 26 June 2015 at 8:28PM in Energy
17 replies 2K views
troptrop Forumite
3 Posts
edited 26 June 2015 at 8:28PM in Energy
I switched energy providers a while ago and am on quarterly billing. I got my first bill after six months (instead of three, as was expected) and it used estimated readings. I told them that I don't pay estimated bills, gave them my actual readings, and asked them to send a new bill using these readings. They sent a new bill using estimated readings. This process continued two more times.

I get the strong feeling that they don't know what they're doing but this has been my experience with every energy company. Am I obligated to pay these estimated bills? Surely not if you're disputing the bill. I've since contacted the Omsbudsman and applied to change energy companies. I'm actually very anxious to pay because this is going back some ways now but they refuse to use my readings for whatever reason.
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  • GingerBob_3GingerBob_3 Forumite
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    trop wrote: »
    I switched energy providers a while ago and am on quarterly billing. I got my first bill after six months (instead of three, as was expected) and it used estimated readings. I told them that I don't pay estimated bills, gave them my actual readings, and asked them to send a new bill using these readings. They sent a new bill using estimated readings. This process continued two more times.

    I get the strong feeling that they don't know what they're doing but this has been my experience with every energy company. Am I obligated to pay these estimated bills? Surely not if you're disputing the bill. I've since contacted the Omsbudsman and applied to change energy companies. I'm actually very anxious to pay because this is going back some ways now but they refuse to use my readings for whatever reason.


    Npower, surely?
  • troptrop Forumite
    3 Posts
    It's Co-Operative. I've begged them to use the readings I gave and told them that I would pay in full upon receipt of such a bill but they just refuse to do it. I've never seen a company so poorly run. Their customer service line is unmanned. I was on hold for literally an hour before I gave up. I switched to them not to save money but just hoping that I wouldn't get all the hassle that every other energy company gives. What I'm asking is very straight forward but they can't seem to do it. I don't understand why these energy companies are so incompetent.
  • naedangernaedanger Forumite
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    trop wrote: »
    I switched energy providers a while ago and am on quarterly billing. I got my first bill after six months (instead of three, as was expected) and it used estimated readings. I told them that I don't pay estimated bills, gave them my actual readings, and asked them to send a new bill using these readings. They sent a new bill using estimated readings. This process continued two more times.

    I get the strong feeling that they don't know what they're doing but this has been my experience with every energy company. Am I obligated to pay these estimated bills? Surely not if you're disputing the bill. I've since contacted the Omsbudsman and applied to change energy companies. I'm actually very anxious to pay because this is going back some ways now but they refuse to use my readings for whatever reason.

    If they have not used your meter reading you should send them a written complaint e.g. by email. If they have not resolved the matter to your satisfaction (e.g. sent an accurate bill) within 8 weeks then you can take your complaint to the Ombudsman (and because you complained in written you will have evidence of your complaint).

    In my view you don't need to pay the estimated bill but do need to pay the accurate amount as calculated by yourself. You should probably check the terms and conditions to confirm. But if their terms and conditions permit them to ignore your readings and use their own estimate instead, without taking any further action, then it would seem to be an unfair contract term in my view.
  • I was about to start a thread about the pros and cons of paying a quarterly variable direct debit as opposed to paying a monthly fixed direct debit. Most companies offer a discount for paying by direct debit, and it’s common to get extra discount for paying a monthly fixed amount.

    But a large number of the complaints about energy providers are related to their unreasonable/inaccurate calculations about an appropriate level of monthly payment, as well as their slowness to refund the oversized credit balances which regularly accrue.

    If you are paying by variable direct debit ‘on receipt of bill’, then you have an opportunity to challenge the amount of the bill before the payment goes out. If the energy company ignores your challenge, and takes the money anyway, then you can simply recall the payment by phoning your bank.

    Before signing up to a monthly direct debit payment plan, I think it is well worth having a close look at whether or not you will be any worse off by paying by variable direct debit ‘on receipt of bill’. If you are paying on receipt of bill, but not by direct debit, then obviously you will not immediately pay a bill which you disagree with. If you know your tariff prices, as well as your meter readings, then pay them nothing until you have agreed on the correct cost of your energy consumption.

    Open a dedicated current account (some of them pay 5% interest) and you can be in total control of your own monthly payment plan.
    mad mocs - the pavement worrier
  • troptrop Forumite
    3 Posts
    Yeah, all of my correspondence with them has been through email because they don't have a telephone support line that works. I'm just going to wait it out for the switch to happen and then hopefully they'll send me a bill based on the actual final meter readings.

    I never use Direct Debit for these energy companies because there's very often a problem with how much they ask for. I know it theoretically costs a bit more but it's worth it not to have some incompetent company take as much money as they want out of your account.
  • trop wrote: »
    I never use Direct Debit for these energy companies because there's very often a problem with how much they ask for.

    Really? Very often suggests above 50%. I've never had an issue with the DD amount taken, and various companies have taken hundreds over the years. I know I'm not alone.
    trop wrote: »
    I know it theoretically costs a bit more
    It's not a theory, it's fact. It does cost more choosing to pay quarterly.
    trop wrote: »
    it's worth it not to have some incompetent company take as much money as they want out of your account.
    You are covered by the DD guarantee - if a company takes money it hasn't first agreed with you you can ask the bank to immediately refund it.
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    trop wrote: »
    to have some incompetent company take as much money as they want out of your account.


    They can't!


    They notify you well in advance if there is a change in the amount of the DD and you can challenge that amount.


    If they still take that amount, a quick phone call to your bank and under the Direct Debit guarantee, the bank will immediately refund the disputed sum.
  • MABLEMABLE Forumite
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    I was about to start a thread about the pros and cons of paying a quarterly variable direct debit as opposed to paying a monthly fixed direct debit. Most companies offer a discount for paying by direct debit, and it’s common to get extra discount for paying a monthly fixed amount.

    But a large number of the complaints about energy providers are related to their unreasonable/inaccurate calculations about an appropriate level of monthly payment, as well as their slowness to refund the oversized credit balances which regularly accrue.

    If you are paying by variable direct debit ‘on receipt of bill’, then you have an opportunity to challenge the amount of the bill before the payment goes out. If the energy company ignores your challenge, and takes the money anyway, then you can simply recall the payment by phoning your bank.

    Before signing up to a monthly direct debit payment plan, I think it is well worth having a close look at whether or not you will be any worse off by paying by variable direct debit ‘on receipt of bill’. If you are paying on receipt of bill, but not by direct debit, then obviously you will not immediately pay a bill which you disagree with. If you know your tariff prices, as well as your meter readings, then pay them nothing until you have agreed on the correct cost of your energy consumption.

    Open a dedicated current account (some of them pay 5% interest) and you can be in total control of your own monthly payment plan.

    I know with my present provider I could save about £35.00 a year by paying by monthly direct debit. Been there and done that before and hated it.

    I now pay by qtly var direct debit and that way I am more in control. Also never give them the chance to claim the qty dd as I pay by my cash back credit card and if I over pay they return to my bank account without asking.
  • edited 27 June 2015 at 5:01PM
    naedangernaedanger Forumite
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    edited 27 June 2015 at 5:01PM
    Cardew wrote: »
    "to have some incompetent company take as much money as they want out of your account."

    They can't!
    They can. They shouldn't, but they are generally able to take more than they are permitted to take.
    They notify you well in advance if there is a change in the amount of the DD and you can challenge that amount.
    This is what should happen. However sometimes things don't happen the way they should when incompetent companies are involved.
    If they still take that amount, a quick phone call to your bank and under the Direct Debit guarantee, the bank will immediately refund the disputed sum.
    Again this is what should happen. But what if the bank does not honour the guarantee, or disputes that the guarantee applies in the particular case. You would then need to take action against the bank.

    Personally I am usually happy paying by direct debit, as it is convenient for me, often cheaper, and I believe the risk of a problem arising for me is very low. But I would not dispute that a customer retains more control paying by cash and cheque. (The extra control arising if things go wrong, with the supplier and then the bank.)

    To illustrate the problems that can sometimes arise with the direct debit guarantee, see example 82/07 in the following link, where the customer had to take their case to the FOS:

    http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/publications/ombudsman-news/82/82-automatic-payments.htm#a_06

    or see the following thread

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=115494

    (The examples are old, but I only spent a couple of minutes searching on google.)
  • lukieboy96lukieboy96 Forumite
    666 Posts
    I think you should note dates of your readings. I have never had problems with EDF. I pay by DD. I always give regular readings so I know what i ahve consumed.
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