Our resources are very limited and when we received these bills I really started to panic and worry about the future of the club
The Energy Advice Line has called for a better deal for small firms engaged in lengthy battles with utility companies over billing errors.
Julian Morgan, managing director of the UK’s leading price comparison and switching service for business, said “increasing numbers of firms were needing help to get redress for supplier mistakes”.
He said the contract management service offered by the Energy Advice Line was sometimes the only way for firms to resolve their disputes, which often ran unresolved for years and caused businesses severe financial pain.
“Unfortunately businesses are not getting the help they need to sort out these disputes, which are often caused by suppliers making fundamental mistakes with billing, meter reading or applying the wrong rate of VAT,” Mr Morgan said.
“Our contract management team has helped large numbers of business owners who are at their wits end trying to resolve a dispute and getting absolutely nowhere.
“Ofgem needs to introduce measures that ensure small businesses are treated fairly by utility companies, and that means intervening to help them sort out the problems caused by supplier errors if necessary. At the moment they are getting no help at all.”
Anne Thompson, treasurer of Woodhouses Cricket Club in Manchester, said she had feared for future of the club after it was overcharged by £1000 - £1500 due to billing errors by energy companies.
The problems began when the club switched its business electricity supplies from Scottish Power to Opus Energy late last year. Anne said she was horrified to receive a £500 bill from her new supplier because it was more than three times what the club normally paid each month.
But worse was to come. In December, the club was stunned when £1500 was deducted from its bank account via Direct Debit to settle Scottish Power’s final bill. The bill resulted in the club exceeding its overdraft and as a result incurred hundreds of pounds in bank charges.
“Ours is a small village cricket club with approx 200 members,” Anne said. “Our resources are very limited and when we received these bills I really started to panic and worry about the future of the club.”
It was only when Anne turned to the Energy Advice Line for help that the cause of the problem was identified; Scottish Power had mixed up its tariffs and applied them erroneously to the club’s three meters.
Anne battled unsuccessfully to convince Scottish Power of the mistake, and had to provide photographs over a period of 6-8 weeks, to the energy companies to prove the readings and the type of meter installed at the cricket club.
“They didn’t actually say this but they made it clear they thought I was tampering with the meters – it was a nightmare,” she said.
“There’s no way on this earth that I would have been able to sort this out myself because the energy companies make it so difficult to understand how the bills are calculated,” Anne said.
The Energy Advice Line has now arranged for Opus Energy to credit the club’s account by £270 and is negotiating with Scottish Power to repay approximately £1,000 it overcharged the club.
“Considering the time, effort and commitment involved in sorting this out, I couldn’t recommend the Energy Advice Line strongly enough. The consideration and support I have received from the team have been exemplary.”
The Energy Advice Line has called on Ofgem, as part of its Retail Market Review, to introduce tough new measures to protect UK business from unfair treatment by energy companies, in the face of spiraling energy costs.
The Energy Advice Line is one of the UK’s leading business electricity price comparison and switching service exclusively for business. It has campaigned for utility companies to change their business energy contracts and billing arrangements to make it easier for firms to switch suppliers to get the best business electricity rates and gas deals.
For further information visit www.energyadviceline.org.uk
About Energy Advice Line
The Energy Advice Line, an impartial online business electricity and business gas price comparison service run by business energy experts for business energy customers, dedicated exclusively to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK. Realising that small and medium sized business electricity and gas consumers want product choice, EAL has developed an online price comparison and switching service exclusively dedicated to their needs. Visit http://www.energyadviceline.org.uk/ for more details.
Contact name: Julian Morgan
Energy Advice Line Limited,
1a Crimea Rd,
Phone: 0800 915 1800
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