Energywatch to harden stance on utility billing

Energywatch, the utilities industry watchdog, is planning to name and shame gas and electricity companies for sending “inaccurate, unclear and late” bills to consumers.

The move comes after the industry watchdog criticised British Gas over billing difficulties affecting thousands of its electricity customers (MW February 27). The naming and shaming of companies will form part of an Energywatch consumer campaign, to be unveiled on May 13.

It is expected that the watchdog will put the industry on notice and request regulatory action if the billing problems persist.

A spokesman for Energywatch says: “We are highlighting the problems because more than half of the complaints that we have received in the past 12 months relate to billing.”

The watchdog will cite a litany of complaints, which include companies that have chased the wrong customer for payment, disconnections on the basis of grossly overestimated bills and customers harassed by debt collection agencies for money that was not owed.

British Gas has maintained that the billing problem is industry-wide, resulting from errors in the complex process of data transfer as customers switch companies.

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