The latest research proves that Energy suppliers collectively owe a gigantic amount of £1billion to their customers. The main reason for this is overpaid energy bills and as a result the suppliers owe nearly £90 to an average home.
According to estimates, energy suppliers owe this money to nearly two third of the gas and electricity customers. The main reason for this credit is poorly calculated utility bills. The survey covered 1300 people and one out of four of them had given more than £100 as extra payment to the energy company.
The survey discovered that four in ten home owners would keep this overpayment with their energy supplier to manage the seasonal variations in their energy bills. It was also found that only one out of ten would demand a refund when their bill gets credited. This clearly suggests that UK energy suppliers are getting an interest on £1billion of overpayments.
Around 27% of the customers, that is nearly a quarter of them agreed that their supplier would automatically refund their overpayments. Furthermore, the survey found that 21% of the customers appealed to their energy supplier to lessen their monthly direct debit payments. This was also observed in the closing down of GB Energy Supply, where it was found that the company owed money to many of its customers.
Although the energy regulator Ofgem manages a safety net so that customers do not suffer any losses if the energy supplier goes bust, it is never advisable to keep large credit balances with the energy suppliers. Experts suggest that energy suppliers generate bills by estimating the annual fuel consumption of the customer and then divide it into twelve equal parts which they offer you as monthly bills.
According to them, direct debits are a good option to deal with the seasonal variations but, if the usage estimated by the supplier is quite high then there is a huge surplus especially during the summer months when energy usage is relatively low. Many a time, customers do not query their suppliers as they carry forward the summer surplus to offset higher winter bills. However, you should check with them once the winter bills are settled and if you find any surplus then it is an intelligent decision to ask for a refund.
Customers who pay via direct debit should also keep a check on the amount being paid. In case you feel that the charges are higher than expected you should contact your supplier and ask them for a meter reading so that arrangement can be made according to the actual usage and not the estimated usage. Asking for refund is the right of the customer and it can be practised at any point of time.
Certain companies like the Big Six energy suppliers have policies that cover the refunds. The policies vary with each company and automatic refunds are supplied for a credit balance over £5. This is the case when bills are generated from accurate meter readings. Suppliers cannot withhold any refund unless there are genuine and legal reasons to do so.
All things considered, one comes to the conclusion that the customers should be upfront in asking for a refund or else they are effectively creating extra earnings for their energy suppliers, which gain a good deal of money out of interest. To find which supplier is astute with offering refunds, one should shop around and research a little bit about the supplier.