Energy companies need to quickly rectify billing errors, according to regulator Ofgem. This follows reports of wildly inaccurate bills, including one man who received a bill for £244,000 for a single month. The man in question, holiday park owner Patrick Langmaid, had the fee deducted from his business account via direct debit. Ofgem has stated that customers should not have to spend hours dealing with such issues.
These problems came to light after artist Sir Grayson Perry received a bill for £39,000. Other examples include a church that was charged £40,000 due to two errors by the supplier and a property owner who received a catch-up bill for £16,000 that was eventually cancelled.
Energy UK’s deputy chief executive, Dhara Vyas, acknowledged that with millions of bills being sent out regularly, mistakes are inevitable. She stressed the importance of suppliers acting quickly to correct errors and offering compensation where appropriate.
Langmaid’s inflated bill was reportedly due to an issue with his smart meter. The payment was automatically taken from his business account, which he said lacked safeguards against such errors. The supplier, Total Energies, admitted that human error led to the inflated invoice not being cancelled.
UK Finance stated that unless the payment resulted in an overdraft, it would not be stopped. Jana Mackintosh, director of payments at UK Finance, advised anyone with concerns about the amount or date of a direct debit to contact their energy company and bank.
Customers have voiced frustration over the difficulty of challenging these bills. In some cases, suppliers have offered apologies and compensation. Ofgem has said it is monitoring suppliers’ performance and will take further action if necessary.