Getting your gas right
19/09/16 You may have been overcharged due to confused meter readings
As summer slides into autumn, the nights draw in, and we begin to think about switching on those radiators… and wondering how much our fuel bills would be. But did you know that your bills might not be all they seem?
This week I’m focussing on two things you need to be wary of this winter…
Metric meters and the imperial march
A few weeks ago, energy company E.On discovered that it had overcharged 350 customers because it confused meter readings from older, imperial meters with those from newer metric ones.
E.On has said that affected customers don’t have to do anything – that they would fully refund customers, and provide interest and what they call ‘appropriate compensation’ on top of that.
Regulator Ofgem reckons the slip-up in the maths occurred when meters were switched over to metric ones, but the energy firms records were not updated. Therefore, if you’ve been using up gas in cubic metres, you might have been charged as though these were cubic feet… making your gas almost three times as expensive as it needs to be.
My advice? Head out there to the back garden (or wherever your meter is) and check whether you have cubic metres or cubic feet written on your meter. Then get in touch with your energy provider (you can do this via resolver.co.uk) and double check that they’re measuring your usage in the proper way.
Meter problems - Your rights
An inaccurate or incorrect meter can pose a frustrating problem. Your first step will be to make your energy supplier aware that you think there is an issue with your meter. They may ask you to conduct a simple test as to whether your meter is broken, or to keep a record of your meter readings over the next week to see if the meter is recording too much energy usage.
In the event that either of these tests indicates that your meter is be broken or recording an incorrect amount, your supplier will arrange for meter tests to be carried out. You may be charged for the cost of these tests, unless they demonstrate that the meter is broken, in which case you will not have to pay for the tests.
Fake bills scam
Hundreds of thousands of Brits are being targeted in an online scam that involves emailing an authentic-looking British Gas bill.
They come with a subject line about your bill, and include an outstanding amount and a payment date.
There is then a link to click that alleges it will take you to a page to view the bill. This actually takes you to a site that asks you to download a file. This file can then lock you out of your computer, and demand payment to allow you back on it.
The lesson on this one is clear – if you get a strange link or a strange file in any email, don’t open it. If you are unsure at all, call your energy supplier and double check any email before clicking on any links
How to raise an issue – top tips
• Be clear and focused when you raise an issue. Explain clearly what happened and what you want to achieve.
• All energy companies have to meet high standards of service, set by industry watchdog Ofgem.
• If you are unhappy with any outcome you have the right to take your case to the Energy Ombudsman (Ombudsman Services) for independent assessment. A case raised via Resolver.co.uk will remind you when you can escalate your case.
Once you have submitted your information to the energy company, they should acknowledge your case with 14 days. Ensure you keep a copy of all communications. Resolver automatically does this for you.
What if you cannot resolve the issue?
After eight weeks you can send the case to Ombudsman Services for the big six (British Gas, EDF, Scottish Power, e.on, Scottish Southern Energy (SSE) and npower). For all other energy companies, you have to wait 12 weeks. The Ombudsman Service will independently investigate your case, and resolver will you remind you when you can send your case over to the Energy Ombudsman. The exception is if the energy company sends you a 'deadlock letter' - then you can send your case file to the Ombudsman immediately.
You can still take your energy company to court if you still do not agree with the outcome but only use this as a last resort.