Consumers overcharged £6 billion for household bills

10 July 2012

British consumers have been overcharged on their household bills by more than £6 billion in the past year, new research has found.

The latest findings from price comparison website uSwitch reveal that almost six in 10 consumers (57%) - around 28 million people - were charged more than they owed at least once over the past year on bills such as their mortgage or gas and electric.

Worse still, more than one in 10 (13%) never got their money back.

On average, billpayers were overcharged by £229 and had to wait almost two months to get their money back.
Out of those trying to get the extra payments back, only 7% were automatically refunded the costs while, worryingly, only half of people who requested a refund were successful.

In the majority of cases, any extra charges were spotted by consumers - with a mere 5% of cases highlighted by providers.

Look at your bills

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, says: "There has been an epidemic of overcharging on household bills in the past year and yet we are still potentially looking at the tip of an iceberg. It seems to be down to consumers to spot where they have been overcharged and, with some household bills being so complicated, more instances will undoubtedly have slipped through the net.

"What this does tell us though is that people must look at their bills and not take it for granted that a company has got its sums right. I would also urge companies to do right by their customers too and to ensure that their bills are simple, clear and easy to understand.

"With 95% of overcharging spotted by customers rather than the bill provider, it's imperative that consumers are able to spot and resolve any mistakes quickly," she adds.


Add new comment