If you start getting bills from an energy company that’s not your supplier, what can you do? And why does it happen in the first place? There are several reasons why you could get billed by the wrong company and sorting it out may not be straightforward. But you do have rights, so don’t give up!
Why you may get a bill from the wrong company
There are several reasons why an energy supplier that you’ve not signed up to may send you a bill if you’ve been transferred to them by mistake.
SAVVY TIP: This is called an ‘erroneous transfer’ and what happens here is that your account is transferred away from your existing energy supplier and to another company.
The reasons may include:
- Because you’ve been given the hard sell by a salesman or woman and signed a form without realising it meant your energy supply was being switched.
- Because someone else has switched to the energy company and they have muddled up their meter number or details with yours.
- Because you wanted to switch to another company but there’s been a mistake in the meter number which means your old supplier continues to supply you.
Meter mix ups
Sometimes, people start getting bills from another company because of incorrect meter numbers. This can be a problem when:
- You move into a new build property. The meter numbers may have been incorrectly recorded on the central database.
- A property is converted. If there was previously one house, with one meter which is converted into flats, one flat may end up being billed for other properties’ electricity or gas.
- A new property or development is built near to you and meter numbers for this development are wrongly recorded.
SAVVY TIP: You don’t need to know the technical details, but meter numbers, and the addresses they belong to are recorded on a central database. The gas meter database is run by XOSERVE and the electricity meter database is called ECOES.
What can you do?
If you start getting bills from an energy company you’ve not signed up to, complain straight away. I know, from the emails I get, that some people who’ve had problems over meter mix ups find it very difficult, if not impossible, to get the company to take responsibility for the problem. Here are my tips:
- Complain in writing, by email (or letter) as soon as you can. If you do this, you’ll have an email trail setting out exactly what you said and what the response has been. Mark your email ‘formal complaint’.
After that, you have two options. You can either:
- Give the company eight weeks to sort out the problem or to issue you with a ‘deadlock letter’. This means that they can’t resolve the problem or that they don’t agree with your complaint. After you’ve received a deadlock letter you can take your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. It’s free of charge to do this.
SAVVY TIP: The Energy Ombudsman can make companies sort out the problem and even award compensation, although amounts tend to be low at £100 on average.
or you can
- Complain via Citizens Advice. Citizens Advice deals with complaints about energy companies as well as consumer rights and benefits issues. Citizens Advice’s consumer services phone line number is on the back of your bill (or on your online bill). The number is 03454 04 05 06.
SAVVY TIP: If you ring Citizens Advice on this number they can intervene directly with the company if you’d prefer – and not just give you advice about what you can do.
What regulations protect you?
There are several rules and regulations that are designed to protect you and make sure you get a fair deal from your energy supplier. They include:
- Standards of conduct: these were introduced by Ofgem, the energy regulator, in 2013. They apply to both non-customers and a supplier’s own customers. You can read about these standards of conduct on the Ofgem website.
- Erroneous transfer charter: this is designed to protect people who’ve been switched to another supplier without their consent. If this happens to you, you should contact either the new or old supplier and explain what’s happened. You should be switched back to your original supplier within 20 days. You can read more about the erroneous transfer charter on the Citizens Advice website.
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