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Case studies - Ian Walker Energy Bills

A Which? Legal member came to us for advice when his energy firm tried to recalculate his bill  

Which? Legal member Ian Walker came to us for advice when his energy firm tried to recalculate his bill and charge him extra.

Ian switched gas and electricity supplier from British Gas to First Utility in October 2012 and had a new gas meter fitted by National Grid in June 2013.

First Utility was told and given the old and new meter readings. But when Ian checked his bill in July, his energy use had been recalculated using a higher ‘calorific value’ – a measure of heating power – than previously and First Utility wanted an extra £23.19.

Ian queried this, and First Utility said that it had performed a ‘credit and re-bill’ on his account to correct any discrepancies that there may have been with previous billing. It later contacted him again and said the increased charge was in fact due to his change of meter

Our advice

Ian came to us for advice. We said that he should write to First Utility to say that he wasn’t satisfied with its reply, to ask it to justify that its action was legal and to show where its terms and conditions allowed it to re-bill him. We also advised that he could go to the energy ombudsman if the case wasn’t resolved within eight weeks.

First Utility didn’t reply, so Ian went to the ombudsman. It asked First Utility to explain the charges, to give Ian a written apology and credit his account with £25 as a goodwill gesture. First Utility agreed to this and also refunded the £23.19 recharge. Ian accepted this.

What the law says

If an energy supplier amends your bill, you are entitled to ask where its terms and conditions authorise it to do so. Energy suppliers are regulated by Ofgem, which aims to protect the interests of consumers. Ofgem requires energy suppliers to comply with its standards of conduct, including investigating any customer complaints in an honest, transparent and professional manner.

If you aren’t satisfied with how your complaint is handled by your supplier, then you can ask the ombudsman to investigate further. The service is free and impartial.  If you would like help changing energy supplier, you can use our free comparison and switching service at which.co.uk/switch.

For more advice on energy-related problems, including our template letter on how to complain about what you believe is an inaccurate meter reading, visit which.co.uk/meter-reading.