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Gocompare.com welcomes new initiative to tackle overpaid utility bills

10 December 2014

My Energy Credit aims to help customers claim money back from energy companies.

  • Research shows that energy companies are sitting on £1.5bn from overpaid bills*
  • Millions of UK consumers are owed £96 on average by energy companies

Leading comparison site Gocompare.com has welcomed a new initiative designed to help customers claim back money from energy companies more quickly.

My Energy Credit has been set up by Energy UK to help people who've moved or switched claim money back from their old energy companies.  The website lists contact details for the big six and there is also a helpline to help customers identify and make contact with their old suppliers, who will then verify the details and arrange a payment.

Jeremy Cryer from Gocompare.com Energy said: “Energy companies are obviously obliged to try and pay back money that is owed to customers when they move or switch away.  But all too often the onus is on the customer to prove what is owed and to chase the company for payment, which can then take a long time to come through.  While this initiative on its own doesn’t guarantee customers will be reunited with their money, it is further evidence of the balance shifting more in favour of the customer.

“However, our own research revealed that the problem of overpayments is widespread and not just restricted to those who have moved house recently or switched provider.  Many customers run up credit balances by simply paying by Direct Debit.”

Recent research by Gocompare.com revealed that 61% of Brits have an overpaid gas or electricity bill. The average overpayment is £96, which collectively means that energy companies are banking an extra £1.5bn of their customers’ money.

The research also found that:

  • Pensioners (aged 65 plus) are the most likely to be in credit (72%), while customers aged 25 to 34 were least likely to carry a credit balance on their energy bills (48%);  
  • 15% of customers surveyed had paid their energy supplier over £100 more than they needed to;
  • Only 22% said that their energy supplier had refunded the overpayment without being asked to, 15% said they had asked for a refund, while 46% said that they prefer to leave their account in credit hoping it will sort itself out over time.

Jeremy Cryer commented: “Gas and electricity companies usually review direct debit accounts twice a year to look at whether the payments customers have been making are sensible given how much energy they've used, and adjust monthly payments accordingly.  Where accounts are in credit, most companies have an amount over which they will give you an automatic refund.  For example, for British Gas to give an automatic credit refund you need to be £100 in credit while E.ON only requires a balance of £5 - provided they have received a meter reading in the last six months.  

“Energy companies are also obliged to refund overpayments whenever their customers request them to.  However, for them to consider your request you’ll need to provide an up-to-date meter reading. If the refund is withheld, the supplier must explain why and you can challenge the decision.”

Details of the big six energy suppliers’ refund policies can be found on Ofgem’s website https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/83041/directdebitleafletaug2013englishweb.pdf

For more help on understanding your energy bill or switching your energy supplier visit http://www.gocompare.com/gas-and-electricity/guide/

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Notes to editors:

On 26 September 2014 an online survey was conducted among 2,002 randomly selected British adults age 18+ who are also Springboard United Kingdom Community members. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current data on age, gender, region, and education from the most recent census data, to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of the UK. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

*£1.5bn is based on the average credit balance (£96.00) multiplied by the 61% of 26.3 million UK households (ONS 2011) who say they have an overpaid utility bill.  61% of 26.3m = 16.04m households.  £96 x 16.04m = £1.5bn.