With so many bills to keep track of every month, perhaps it was inevitable that I would run into a problem. But after an expensive mistake with my energy direct debit, I’ll start watching my bills like a hawk.
Research from uSwitch has found that energy suppliers are one of the biggest culprits for getting bills wrong. And after my week-long wrestle with my own supplier, I can’t say I’m surprised.
Just over seven months ago, I moved into a rented house with my partner. Before we’d even unpacked our boxes, I compared prices to find the cheapest energy supplier, and subsequently switched to EDF Energy.
At the time, our direct debit was inexplicably set at £57 per month. Over the next seven months, we paid our £57 direct debit, building up a total credit of £342.
A series of unwelcome shocks
Then, last month, we found a house we wanted to buy. As we drastically cut back on non-essential spending, I realised we hadn’t received a single bill from EDF yet. As a result, I submitted my meter readings to see if we were in debit.
And boy, were we in debit. Over seven months, we’d managed to rack up a bill that was more than double what we’d paid in direct debits – £425 to be precise. I won’t lie to you, dear reader, I didn’t take the news very well! But this was just shock number one.
We received a warning that our direct debit was going to go up to £208 a month. That’s an increase of £151 per month – or 265%. I got straight on to EDF’s customer service advisers, who told me this amount was to cover our debit plus future usage. However – if I paid the £425 debit, our direct debit amount would be revised.
So, we swallowed the bitter pill and paid the £425 debit in order to make our monthly payments more manageable. But when I contacted EDF again, they told us that the direct debit would stay set at £208. I was gobsmacked. I won’t bore you with the maths, but our energy usage had never come close to £208 a month.
A big waste of energy
After calling again and being told ‘this figure is based on your usage’ – I decided to make a complaint. On dialling the complaints number, I heard a message saying, ‘we’re dealing with a high volume of calls at the moment’ (oh dear). So I hung up and took to Twitter.
After making some noise about it publicly, EDF’s Twitter advisers soon contacted me and asked me to send them an email. Very promptly, I had a call from their complaints department and, as suspected, the £208 was a mistake. Our direct debit was recalculated to £94.
So my story has a happy ending, but not without a great deal of wasted time and unnecessary stress. And it seems I’m not the only one having problems, as our latest research reveals that EDF receives more complaints per 1,000 accounts than any other energy supplier.
Where does your supplier appear in the energy complaints league table? Have you had to deal with any wrong energy bills?