How energy companies are trying to pull the wool over your eyes

1 October 2009

What is it about us Brits that we’re loath to complain when things go wrong and would rather doubt ourselves than query the things we’re told? I have lost track of the number of times I’ve smiled politely and pronounced a meal delicious when really I could barely stomach the stuff on my plate.

But when it comes to bills and other money 
issues, we shouldn’t let politeness put us off 
digging a bit deeper if we receive information that doesn’t seem to add up. A colleague of mine is a case in point.

He recently received an energy bill from E.ON that informed him it had reviewed his account and was increasing his monthly direct debit from £194.40 to £242. “You don’t need to do anything,” it kindly explained. “We’ll start taking your new amount automatically”. This is despite his account being £26 in credit.

Shocked at the sudden 
increase to his direct debit – amounting to a not 
insignificant £571.20 extra a year – my 
colleague phoned E.ON and asked it to 
justify the price increase. Of course, it couldn’t. Instead, it said the whole thing had been a mistake and promised to send out a rectified bill and statement.

It was a great result, and shows that it doesn’t hurt to query the things energy providers, banks and other financial 
providers tell us. In many cases, it’ll pay off.

Having said that, sometimes it’s easier to get other people to argue on our behalf. And that’s where we can help.

We recently 
launched a new service called ‘Moneywise Fights for Your Rights’. All you need to do is tell us if you think you’ve been ripped off or treated unfairly by your bank or insurer, and we’ll take the issue up with them personally.

Thanks to everyone who's already sent in their problems. We are looking into these and get back to you as soon as possible!