/ Home & Energy

Does an energy supplier owe you money?

Pound coins on energy prices

The Big Six have been asked by Ofgem to return millions to former customers after it was found they were holding £400m in credit from closed accounts. Are you owed money by your previous energy supplier?

The energy regulator found the big suppliers holding at least £202m from around 3.5 million families and £204m from businesses.

This follows commitments from Eon, EDF, British Gas, SSE and Npower to refund credit balances of £5 or more on direct debit accounts to existing customers.

Return your money

Ofgem’s investigations found ‘an unacceptably large amount of money being retained rather than returned to consumers’ and today it called on energy companies to ‘do all they can to return this money and restore consumer trust’.

In response, British Gas, Eon and Npower have each said they do everything they can to refund any money owed to ex-customers. However, they also pointed out that the value of customer debt owed to them outweighs this. For example, British Gas says it was owed £200m by customers at September 2013, compared to the £40m owed to customers.

Full competition enquiry

If it’s true, it’s obviously shocking that the Big Six are sitting on millions of pounds worth of your cash. We’re urging suppliers to return this money as soon as possible and to be clearer on what you need to do when you close accounts.

Today’s news again shows why change in the energy market is urgently needed. Ofgem’s currently investigating the energy market, and we look forward to seeing its final conclusions. However, to really fix the broken energy market, we want a full competition inquiry so that you can be confident that the market works well for you, as well as shareholders.

Are you owed money by an energy supplier? How long have they had a hold of it?

If you think you might be owed money by an energy supplier, contact them directly – here’s our guide with contact numbers for each energy supplier.

Comments
Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

While this is amazing news I pay for what I use, as I use it, so I don’t build up a debt or credit on my account. I also do this so the energy companies are not making money on any credit balance I may hold.

But, for others who are in credit and have moved this is really good news.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

The argument that customers owe them more than they owe us is seems a bit contrived by someone – they are not the same customers of course.
Ofgem are in process of making a competition enquiry:
“……Ofgem would work with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) / Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as appropriate, to carry out a market assessment in order to monitor the behaviour of market participants and ensure the market is working for residential and small business consumers and that all suppliers can compete fairly.” and a first assessment is due by end March.
The link is https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/letter-ofgem-oft-and-cma-secretary-state-competition-energy-markets
“Broken market” is a politician’s populist headline – let’s keep this apolitical and see whether Ofgem perform properly, and not indulge in headline-grabbing rhetoric.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

For years I was almost always in credit and have even had my direct debit increased when I had a substantial credit balance. At least e.on always responded positively to my many requests to make amends, even if others have not been so lucky.

I recently ended up in debit and within hours I received an email to say that my direct debit would rise by about 10%. I expect it will not be long before I am back in credit.

I am now on a fixed price contract with Scottish Power and at the end of that I want to move to a tariff that lets me pay what I owe – not a penny more or less – as a matter of principle.

We often think of unethical companies as those that underpay adults, exploit children, wreck the environment and so on, but you don’t need to look beyond our large energy suppliers to see plenty of examples of unethical behaviour.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Wavechange – I too have a fixed rate online DD contract with Scottish Power but I have been experiencing difficulty in accessing my online account for some time now. I keep receiving messages stating they are updating their website with accompanying apologies.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Beryl – I have just done a quick check and have seen an unhelpful message: “Something went wrong
We are sorry for the inconvenience
If you were dealing with an urgent matter, please call us on 0800 001 5138.” The error message originates from Iberdrola, the Spanish owner of Scottish Power.

Perhaps you should give them a ring on their free number. When my switch from e.on was not going at all well, I had a long chat with a helpful fellow Scot, who was obviously from the Glasgow area where SP has its headquarters in the UK. When I enquired if SP would try to keep me in credit in the same way that e.on had, she said they would and gave an explanation for why this was a good idea. 🙁

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I hope the lights will not go out if there is independence – or will SP move its headquarters into the mother country? 🙂 🙁 🙂

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Indeed. And it is a great pity that we have allowed other countries have so much control over our energy supply.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Many thanks for the helpful info Wavechange. I will certainly chase SP up on the number you posted if the situation doesn’t change soon.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

It’s working now, though I spotted a dead link when exploring their website.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Why do the Big Six bemoan the fact that customer debts outway the millions of cash they are sitting on which is owed to other customers and yet they are still able to make a profit? Are they now claiming charitable status?
I am left wondering just what Ofgem/OFT/CMA will discover hidden within the woodwork of the Big Six monetary closets.
Is this just one reason why the CEO of British Gas expresses disdain at the “Interference of polititians In their markets” with added threats of “The lights going out.”

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

The worst thing government can do is interfere in commercial businesses – they will depress investment as more than one energy company has said, simply because they create uncertainty. We rely on them to invest in the infrastructure to keep us supplied – its just a fact of life. What we need is a “transparent” market – that is one where we (or the regulator) see the costs and understand the pricing and ensures it is fair to both parties – the consumer and the supplier. I can only hope that the present action will lead to that outcome.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

In a free market politicians usually only intervene as a result of public pressure Malcolm which is why we have regulators and consumer groups to oversee ‘fair play.’ It is a regrettable I agree for the reasons you have stated and in an ideal world this would not be necessary. The Big Six also rely on their customers to (a) make a profit and (b) be accountable to their shareholders. Problems arise when their policies start to work favourably for both of the above at the expense of the consumer especially when providing essential services such as energy. When you are able to purchase a commodity and then sell it on to your own company at on whatever inflationary price you choose it is you and I who end up footing the bill.

I agree ethical practices should be reinstated which can only be as a result of transparency and a full investigation by the regulators .

Member

It has taken 13 weeks to get my £450 credit that Npower owed me after switching, I spent over 3 hours either on hold or talking to customer service’s. A simple reply to an email would take up to 10 days. I will never use them again.

Member
nondipoo says:
1 March 2014

I was over £300 in credit last autumn, so asked for a refund, which they gave me. The only problem is now that they say they will increase the direct debit as the account is now barely in credit. They keep changing my payments each year and never seem to get it right. None of them take into account that I have solar panels so should be using less electricity either, although my bill was £60 less last quarter. It would be impossible to get a true calculation as each winter the temperature varies, but surely it would make more sense for them to do the yearly sum-up at a different time, say in the summer, rather than making calculations after the coldest part of the year in March.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I have had this problem for years with e.on and their predecessor Powergen. I understand that energy companies try to ensure that want customers build up credit in the summer months to avoid having a debt in the winter months when they are likely to use more fuel.

I have never had any problem in getting refunds or direct debits decreased when I have phoned about a substantial credit balance but generally the direct debit has been pushed up again within months.

When the energy companies can change direct debits at a whim, why are we not simply offered the opportunity to pay by fixed monthly direct debit or debited by actual cost of fuel consumed? If someone defaults on payment, there may be a case for encouraging them to make fixed monthly payments.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

wavechange, as I mentioned elsewhere, npower offer either monthly direct debit (variable) or quarterly direct debit where you only pay for that quarter’s energy, just as you used to with paper bills and cheques. That might suit other people who want to pay for what they use. The principle of monthly direct debit is to spread your payments more evenly across the year – avoiding high winter charges with lower summer ones, for those who like to budget this way. Of course if the weather is unusually cold or warm the payments won’t match.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks but I have not forgotten about this, Malcolm. I am waiting until my fixed-price deal with Scottish Power ends. It was a rather traumatic switch and I am not looking forward to doing this again, though I had no problems when I switched previously.

When I nagged e.on about keeping me in substantial credit they told me that I could pay what I owed quarterly, but that would have been more considerably more expensive.

I pay my credit card balances off by monthly variable direct debit. I suppose I should be grateful that the card company does not debit me more in the summer to account for the fact that January’s bill will be expensive because of Christmas expenditure.

Member
Nissemus says:
1 March 2014

I’ve been trying for over a year to get npower to refund me more than £300 from a closed account. Every time I phone them they come up with a different excuse about why they haven’t done it. This generally involves someone having “accidentally” issued a cheque for just slightly the wrong amount.

Member
anon says:
5 March 2014

I also am having problems with Npower – they have a different story every time I ring and say whatever I was told the previous call, was incorrect. They can’t even get their excuses the same!

Member
Steve lake says:
1 March 2014

Yes they do I’ve had solar panels fitted ,I’ve got a Small commercial system on my roof ,24 panels 7 kva capability,the system has been up and running since mid December 2013, my installer has sent off all of the necessary paperwork ,I’ve contacted him to confirm and also EDF renewable energy dept to see if there is a problem they’re denying they’ve had any details sent to them ,as I see it when they do get they’re pathetic rear ends into gear I should be able charge them interest, on the money owed ,I may just withhold my electricity bill payment which I think is only fair

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

I was with NPower before switching to Scottish Power due to what amounted to bully boy tactics and constant harassment via ‘phone calls and letters threatening legal action if I refused to let them in to check my meters. At 7.20am one morning someone from NPower turned up ‘out of the blue’ to read and check the meters. (Apparently this is a legal requirement and has to be carried out once every 2 years.) I couldn’t answer the door in time due to being up to my knee in plaster caste with a fractured leg. I ‘phoned them the same day to explain this and to make an appointment. As arranged someone arrived on time and I duly let them in. However a few days later I received another legal letter stating they still had not carried out the necessary checks and had just read the meters!!! As I had an online and monthly DD account with them and therefore owed them nothing at all I decided enough was enough and immediately terminated the contract never to return.

Member
PeteM says:
2 March 2014

We have changed energy suppliers regularly in recent years and never had a problem with the ‘big six’. However, the last change has been one big headache. It is now over five months since the change and we have found it impossible to get a response from first utility, let alone the money first utility owes us. They continue to send emails as though we are still their customer and advise us which tariff we should change to, to reduce our energy bill. It’s a shame they couldn’t do that when we were their customer! We have now referred the case to the energy ombudsman in the hope that they can encourage first utility to close our account.

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

PeteM, When I first read your account I thought I had written it myself. You give a good summary of exactly what has happened to us with First Utility. Our case is also with the ombudsman. Their IT system and their senior customer service staff are not fit for purpose. They are in fact not fit to be an energy company and should either mend their ways or be closed down. They are a nightmare.

Member
N Gray says:
8 May 2014

We’ve had a slightly different problem in that, for some time now the Co-Operative has under-estimated our charges and, although I try to log in regularly to update our readings and review the account, problems with their website have prevented me from doing so for about 4-5 months. We finally decided to switch when a direct debit review notice was not received and it took several attempts to get through to someone to talk about the access to the website and fix it. It turned out we were over £400 in debit!!! We have since received another notice dropping the direct debit amount back to below our original payment, which would again put us in debit within a few months at our current usage. Again – we cannot access the website to log in and our reset options are not being recognised. Access to your account is such an important point, especially when you opt for paperless billing. We have switched now – loyalty to the Co-Operative is one thing but terrible service is not something we should put up with.

Member
Geoffk007 says:
26 May 2014

I have switched from SP to OVO on 9th April. I gave them both readings and have chased up my credit return from SP (they quote 3 weeks) They said they were waiting for OVO. OVO said they had sent the info needed. Apparently SP are having system problems and apperar to be lying as well as holding on to my money. What can I do? I am really annoyed at Scottish Power….

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

Geoffk007, You should lodge a formal complaint with SP. If they don’t put things right in 8 weeks from the date of the complaint contact the Energy Ombudsman ( Tel.0330 440 1624).and ask for his assistance. We had a terrible time with First Utility and had to involve the ombudsman. The ombudsman service did sort matters out. Don’t agree to the first ombudsman’s report if it is not 100% correct. Regard it as a draft report. Take matters all the way to “Staqe 5” if necessary. The complexity of the mistakes made by FU were incredible and too numerous to describe here but I have sent all the details to Which and our MP. Amongst the many appalling things FU did to us was to hold on to £256 for seven months which belonged to our old account at our previous address. We have only recently retrieved it. Hope this helps. PS See also my previous entry on 2nd March 2014.

Member
Geoffk007 says:
26 May 2014

Cheers Dave, I am on the case, ducks in a row and they know battle is about to commence, I’ll let you know how I get on, I think it is about £70 but it’snot their money is it!!! Geoff

Member
Geoffk007 says:
31 May 2014

Dave, well done my £80 from SP arrived in my bank yesterday, phew, I bet it would not have come as promptly without some nudging, Cheers Geoff.

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

Geoff, Well done- energy companies need to be bashed. Everyone should join in!

Member
Anne Sanderson says:
8 July 2014

I have been with Eon for almost 3 years. I was instructed by them to pay £220 per month for my gas and electricity.. Recently I decided to look at the market as I was sure I was paying a lot more than I should. My investigation showed I had £1,375 in CREDIT they were still taking the £220 each month.
When I called them they said OH sorry we are putting £675 back into your account and lowering your payments from 1 August to £175 per month. I told them I was changing my supplier as I was totally disgusted with the service. They asked that I call them when the transfer is complete so that they can send the remaining credit to me, I though it would have been transferred without my phone call !!!!!.
WHAT A TOTAL SHAM NO WONDER THEY HAVE SO MUCH MONEY IN THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS TO PAY THEIR UPPER CRUST MANAGEMENT SALARY INCREASES

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

Anne, whoever you move to keep a very close eye on them-one cannot trust any of the energy companies. If you have not already sorted out your annual consumption for both fuels do so now as this puts you in the driving seat so you can tell the new energy company what your direct debit will be! ( There is some variation of annual consumption of course from year to year depending how cold the seasons are).

Member
Colin says:
4 November 2014

I have closed my account with Eon and they owe me money and will not pay it back till I phone them. Why? If I phone them it will cost me money. I have sent a letter and have had no reply . Next approach, ombudsman then the law since I am now banking with Eon I also want interest!

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

I recently switched energy companies and are thankful that I have the privilege of sharing and learning about some of the policies deployed by them on Which? Convo to avoid payment of consumers refunds due following the switching process.

Scottish Power requested my final DD payment due on 2nd May be paid, although the switching process commenced during the third week of March and my first DD payment with the new supplier was due on the 20th April. However, on the 20th April, my account with SP was £26.21 in debit so I took the initiative to cancel the final DD payment due on 2nd May much to the chagrin of SP, saving myself the sum of £63.79 plus all the hassle at attempts to obtain this amount from them as a refund. Today I have received a final payment demand from SP for the £26.21 owing. It is my intention to pay this amount in due course in full but I am in no hurry to do so!

Member
Nicola says:
5 June 2015

I cancelled my account with British Gas over 2 years ago as I was moving abroad. I paid by direct debit and as the house was unoccupied for a couple of months I was in credit. After numerous calls and emails they have still not refunded my money.