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Do you always check bills to make sure they’re correct?

bill shock

Mobile phone provider EE has been fined £2.7m by Ofcom for overcharging tens of thousands of customers, but would you have realised if you’d been billed too much?

Maybe it’s my generation or I’m just incredibly lax, but I rarely check my direct debit payments, let alone my bills/statements.

But the news this week that Ofcom has handed EE a £2.7m fine for overcharging tens of thousands of customers in 2014 and 2015 has got me thinking about my own laissez-faire attitude/negligence when it comes to checking my bills.

Ofcom’s investigation

The fine came as a result of an investigation by the regulator that found that EE had broken a ‘fundamental billing rule’ on two separate occasions.

The first instance affected customers who called EE’s 150 customer service number while roaming within the EU. Instead of being charged 19p per minute, they were incorrectly charged £1.20 per minute, as if they were making a call to the US.

The mistake saw something like 32,145 customers overcharged a sum of around £245,000.

Ofcom also found that EE had continue to bill 7,674 customers for calling and using the 150 service within Europe, despite it having been made free from 18 November 2015.

On the latter occasion, the company acted promptly and issued full refunds to those affected.

But on the former, Ofcom found that EE had failed to reimburse the majority of affected customers.

EE had also wrongly decided it couldn’t identify the people it overcharged and had proposed giving their money to charity.

Action taken

Although Ofcom found that EE hadn’t intentionally set out to overcharge customers, it is now requiring that it makes further attempts to trace and refund every customer who was overcharged.

Since the mistake, EE has also put in place measures to prevent this from happening again.

Billing errors

EE isn’t the first mobile phone company to be fined for a billing mistake. Back in October last year, Ofcom handed Vodafone a £4.6m fine for its handling of billing issues.

But it seems that if it wasn’t for the regulator’s intervention, thousands of customers would have been out of pocket.

And, if they’re like me and don’t check their bills, many of these would have been completely oblivious.

Do you frequently check your direct debit payments and bills to ensure that they are completely correct or do you trust your providers to get it right?

Do you always check bills to make sure they're correct?

Without fail (65%, 375 Votes)

When I remember (20%, 114 Votes)

Rarely (16%, 92 Votes)

Total Voters: 581

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My mobile is PAYG so that’s all on trust! However, other bills I do check; why not? By coincidence the final bill from EDF arrived yesterday as I had switched. I keep a record of meter readings and checked the final charges – correct, but I’ll make sure the small credit balance reaches my bank account when I check that.

We have medical equipment that has an hours meter for electricity use, for which a rebate is made quarterly. The supplier responsible invariably estimates the use and gets it wrong; I check the reading and email the correct one to get the rebate corrected.

I check my bank accounts against monthly statements (sometimes cheques are not cashed, DDs are not taken, I forget a payment I’ve made), and my record of credit card payments I make against monthly statements. I don’t want any nasty surprises and mistakes are made, as well as fraudulent transactions.

It is your money; if you don’t keep proper track you may end up going overdrawn, for example, and incurring fees, particularly if you haven’t bothered to ask for an agreed overdraft from your bank. Who gets the blame? Your money, your accounts, your responsibility in my view (unless you employ an accountant 🙂 )

I pay more attention to bank and credit card statements, than receipts though I don’t recall ever finding a mistake. In the past I have chased up a few odd entries on credit card statements, only to find that they were correct but the entry on the statement did not correspond with the name of the shop etc. I am still wary of contactless payments but there has been no problem so far. My way of avoiding credit card interest charges is to have the bills paid by direct debit.

I have found a few examples of full price being charged for reduced price items in supermarkets because someone had been careless and not covered the original bar code(s). I am wary of my mobile service provider, which does not have a good reputation, but so far the charge for the SIM-only contract has never been a penny more than the agreed payment.

When I switched energy companies (Scottish Power to Ovo) I received a refund for my credit balance. It seemed lower than I expected and on checking I discovered that I had been refunded on the balance of either the gas or electricity account but not both. That was confusing because I had a dual fuel account and SP only split it during the switching process.

When you change energy providers it seems that the gas and electricity supplies are treated separately. My EDF account was finalised on two separate bills of different dates.

Thanks Malcolm. The dates were different for me as well.

I had the same problem with Scottish Power

I check my bank account at least once a week all other bills are checked as soon as I receive them My PAYG phone is not used much so I spend very little using that keeping my eye on the balance Those who do not check have more money to waste than any sense

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I usually do a reasonableness check on my mobile phone bill, but had reason to check it carefully this month and found something that looks like fraud to me. Going away a couple of days before the end of my billing cycle, I got a text telling me that I was within 250MB of my included 1GB of data. Knowing I’d be away from wifi and not wanting to pay the penalty £6 per 250MB overuse, I decided to buy 1GB up front for £6.50 (or whatever it was). Two days later, on the last day of the billing cycle and on my way home, I called (not being able to removed the extra 1GB anywhere near as easily as I could add it!) to remove the 1GB from future months – I received a text to confirm. When my bill arrived, I logged in to discover I’d been charged both for 250MB of overuse and for 1GB extra that I’d requested. So, I decided to check my data use more carefully. Vodafone don’t provide a total on the account page – just the itemised lines. I had to download the csv file to excel, then retype the figures alongside the originals (they are downloaded as text – 0.0xMB – so you can’t just sum the column). The total came to 652MB for the whole billing cycle – so I hadn’t got anywhere near the 1GB included data, so didn’t need the extra 1GB! By the time I called about this the following morning, the charge for the overuse 250MB had disappeared (the agent I spoke said it had been a mistake) but he was unable to explain why I’d been sent a text saying I was close to using all my data when I clearly wasn’t. I have had the charge for the extra 1GB refunded as a goodwill gesture, but that feels like misselling to me. And I’m concerned about how difficult it is to check the bill – I’m just not going to retype and total 100 figures on an excel spreadsheet every month.

I’ve added an app which I hope will allow me to double check Vodafone’s figures in future – My Data Manager.