Go the extra mile when checking your meter

Dean Stockwell (Debt Advice Development Officer-Advice Link), Blackpool.(story re energy bills complaints).
Dean Stockwell (Debt Advice Development Officer-Advice Link), Blackpool.(story re energy bills complaints).
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CRUCIAL advice has been given to consumers with discrepancies in their energy bills.

The information comes after consumer watchdog Which? revealed four million households complained about errors to British Gas, E.ON, ScottishPower, EDF, Npower and Scottish and Southern Energy.

Consumers said the most common problems were billing and meter problems, including mistakes on bills, inaccurate meter readings and missing bills.

Dean Stockwell, debt advice development officer for Advice Link Blackpool, has advised residents to always check their paperwork.

He said: “Check the meter reading used on your bill is accurate, if an estimated reading has been used, or the reading is wrong, contact your supplier with a current meter reading.

“This will ensure you are only paying for the fuel used, and avoid the problem of long-term estimated bills being followed with a large catch-up bill.

“Check you are not paying more than you need. The choice of different tariffs available from each energy provider can be confusing.

“Don’t assume you are on the best tariff, call your supplier and ask them if a cheaper tariff is available.”

The watchdog also found 90 per cent of unresolved complaints do not go to the energy ombudsman for resolution.

Which? calculated that consumers could be missing out on £4m a year in unclaimed compensation.

Pamela Hill, business development officer at Blackpool Carers Centre, said: “Anyone who is having problems paying bills should contact a professional. If they are an older person struggling to pay bills, they should contact Age Concern for advice about how they can deal with that problem.”

Catriona Bright, from Blackpool Council’s Trading Standards team, said: “If you have a complaint about your energy supplier, you should contact them in the first instance.

“Unless it is a simple problem, you should put your complaint in writing, either in a letter or by email. Make sure you keep a copy of anything you send, including energy bills, and note when they were sent.

“If your energy supplier doesn’t resolve the problem, or if you are unhappy with its response, contact Consumer Direct for further advice.

“If your complaint to your energy supplier reaches a deadlock situation, contact the Energy Ombudsman. A deadlock means you’ve been through your energy company’s complaints procedure and reached a point where your supplier says they can do nothing more to produce a solution.

“You must submit the claim within nine months of submitting the original complaint to the supplier.”

Call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.