We check thousands of bills each month for our clients and a significant number of them are wrong. In fact, in the last twelve months, we have checked more than 14,000 bills on behalf of our clients and just over 8% of them were wrong – not in the favour of the consumer! Each of those wrong bills could potentially have cost our client’s money if the mistake was not put right quickly. So how do you know if your bill is right?
Generally, there are three main reasons for mistakes on your bill; calculation inaccuracies, consumption errors or wrong prices applied.
Undertaking a full historic audit on your utility bills will allow you to claim back anything you are due from suppliers. If this is something that you’re not already doing, you should consider it. The money that you claim back could be substantial and help you save on any future bills.
During our invoice validation process, the most common errors we come across related to consumption information and whilst you would think that SMART meters or AMR devices should have minimised this then you would be only partially right. On several occasions over the last twelve months clients have been billed to estimated reads despite have an AMR device or SMART meter fitted. Equally, we see many occasions on which meter reads are transposed across the time periods with day being billed as night and night as day.
Meanwhile, last month we passed the deadline for P272; which saw more businesses moving to being half hourly metered. Half hourly settled meters do tend to provide the most accurate billing information in relation to consumption but they throw up other issues around the non-energy costs. Many of these will be newly applied to the meter and are part and parcel of your new budgeting for your energy costs but are sometimes wrong. These tend to be the most difficult to check and rely on a strong knowledge of the contract that has been signed and the level of flexibility that can therefore be applied and the relationship to the consumption information. Changes to network charges, Contracts for Difference and the capacity market charge, to name a few, make checking your bill is correct even more complex.
The simplest of errors can cause significant effects on a bill, gas meters that are showing as imperial meters on your bill when they are in fact metric will create a bill nearly three times the amount of energy cost you should be charged. Imagine finding that you have paid three times as much for your gas as you needed to over the last however many years! Several clients have over the last few years. As meters are updated and fewer and fewer imperial meters exist then the chances that this is the case decreases but worth a look.
Of course, sometimes billing errors go in the other direction – in our direct experience, this doesn’t happen as often as errors that go against the consumer but it does happen. Where this is the case we advise consumers to ask the supplier to put it right immediately. The problem with not asking them to put it right is that sometimes this will generate a big bill when they do. Some clients prefer to keep money contingently to pay up when that big bill arrives and we will always act according to your advice if you find yourself in this situation after we have checked a bill, but generally we would say negotiating keen rates and making sure that you pay for only what you use when you use it is the best way to go.
There are so many ways in which an energy bill can be wrong that it is worth keeping an eye on them on a routine basis. Our invoice validation service is part of our energy management package which means we are quickly able to right any mistakes, chase any money owed and then have it returned to our customers. As part of our energy management service all the refunds go directly to our customers, you won’t pay a percentage to us.
If you would like more information about our invoice validation service or if there is something else we can help you with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.