Belfast Telegraph

Consumers 'left vulnerable' to overcharging by complex bills

By Josie Clarke

Complicated household bills are leaving consumers confused and vulnerable to overcharging, with energy suppliers the worst offenders, a study has claimed.

Almost three-quarters of consumers (73%) said they were unable to work out if there had been a mistake on their energy bills, while 30% said the same for their water bills, the survey by price comparison website uSwitch.com found.

The figures follow a study in May by uSwitch that found consumers were overcharged by £6.7bn on household bills in the last year, with 95% of cases spotted by consumers themselves.

The poll found 86% of consumers find energy bills too complicated, 73% believe they use too much jargon and 65% cannot find the information they need. More than eight in ten (82%) find energy bills harder to understand than any other bill, while 38% fear they have lost money because of a confusing energy bill.

Despite this, 38% of consumers trust their gas or electricity supplier to get their bills right, while 21% trust their digital television provider and 33% trust their mobile phone company.

USwitch director of consumer policy Ann Robinson said: "In this day and age, clear and concise bills should be the very least that consumers should expect. The fact that some companies and industries are still unable to get this fundamental part of their service right is simply unacceptable.

"Supplying simple, straightforward and helpful bills is a vital part of building trust and consumer confidence. It helps to put customers in control and enables them to make informed decisions and choices about products and services.

"It also means that consumers stand a greater chance of spotting any inaccuracies or incorrect charges. This is also why, despite the difficulties, consumers must continue to check their bills carefully as failure to do so could leave them out of pocket."

USwitch.com questioned 1,020 UK adults in May.

Belfast Telegraph