April is just around the corner and this means that the bills I pay in 8 or 10 monthly instalments, such as water and council tax, are landing on my doormat. Have your bills for the year ahead arrived yet, and have you checked them?
I’m ashamed to say that in the past I haven’t even bothered to open these bills. Although there was a small increase last year, the council tax monthly payment hasn’t gone up for around seven years and the water rates usually change by such a small amount that I barely notice the difference.
Knowing that council tax is set to go up this year, I’ve been eagerly awaiting my bill. So when the water rates one came in first, I ripped it open, expecting it to have risen by a couple of quid. Imagine the surprise, then, when I read that it was increasing by more than £60 a year, with my monthly payments going from £22.06 to £30.31.
Prompted by the information I’d gleaned from working at Which?, last year I arranged for my water provider to come out to see if I could go on a meter in the hope my rates would go down a little.
Unfortunately, living in a Victorian house that’s been carved up into three flats with old lead piping renders my property unsuitable. However, the company did advise me that I could claim single occupancy (although it couldn’t be backdated, for some reason), so I got my wish in the end and my bill was decreased.
My circumstances haven’t changed in the past year, so I couldn’t understand the dramatic increase for this year. Incensed, I promptly called up my provider to query the bill. Turns out it’s completely wrong and has actually gone down by £2 a month.
Challenging a bill hike
Had I not opened the bill, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the increase for a good few months and would have been out of pocket by £10 a month.
The saga has got me checking my other bills to see whether they’ve also increased. As I’ve opted to go paperless for the majority of them I rarely log in to my accounts to keep tabs on my statements.
Lo and behold, payments for my broadband/TV/phone bundle have been creeping up over the past few months and we’ve just had the news that my mobile phone bill is about to increase, too. If you’re on a pay-monthly contract customer with EE, O2, Three or Vodafone then you’ll be seeing your mobile phone bill go up in the coming months, while pay-as-you-go customers will be unaffected.
So I’ll be shopping around to see if I can negotiate some better deals, and I’m definitely going to change my reckless ways and check my utility bills from here on in.
How often do you check your utility bills? Have you spotted a bill hike and managed to haggle for a better deal?