5 Ways to Keep Your Energy Company from Ripping You Off

energy company rip offs
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

 

As if the cost of energy going up is not enough to get home owners worried, some suppliers and energy company owners are also playing dirty tricks on their consumers. One of them is imposing a steep exit fee if they move to other providers.

This guide will show you 5 different ways to avoid your energy company ripping you off.

The Problem Is Real

The price of energy is steadily going up.  Your energy bills are growing bigger and straining your budget.

But that isn’t all you have to worry about.

Some energy utility companies are trying to overcharge customers and you’ll have to remain vigilant to avoid paying more than you are due.  If you find out that your energy supplier is ripping you off, here’s what you can do.

1. Insist On Proper Meter Readings

Every time you hear about a price hike in energy rates or alterations to your tariff, read your meter and record the number.

If you miss out on this, then later you will have trouble convincing your energy company about how many units you consumed after the rate hike.  This means you could be charged at the higher rate even for units of energy you consumed earlier.

By recording your meter reading and informing the company about it, you establish a record of the amount of energy you will consume after the price increase.

2. Get Clarification On Higher Bills

The size of your latest energy bill might come as a surprise.

For the first month or two after you sign up with a new energy company or provider, you’ll receive bills of “estimated energy usage“. They are based on sampling carried out randomly on your account.

However, if the final bill is significantly higher than these estimates, you should ask for an explanation.

This situation is worse when there has been a price hike in rates.  You might be liable to pay at the higher rate for the entire amount of energy the company claims you consumed.

It’s called a “catch up” bill and if you receive one, contact your energy supplier and request that the additional units be spread out over the billing cycle.

In this way, you can ensure that you’ll pay the old lesser rates and save money.

3. File Complaints

Energy companies do not have the right to impose higher tariffs on consumers unless they also offer the option to terminate their contract and choose another provider.

This means you can switch over to a new energy supplier and not be stuck with steep exit fees.

If your energy company plays rough, you can complain to the ombudsman who will look into the matter.  In fair and legitimate cases, regulators will take your side and issue a ruling against the company.

You can also mount a legal challenge in justified instances.  You’ll have an effective safeguard against a rip off.

4. Negotiate Contracts Again

You may have signed up with your energy company under unfavorable terms and conditions.  If your present provider is not providing you with a good deal and other competitors offer attractive terms, then you should switch energy companies promptly.

It is often a hassle to shift from one energy company to another, but the process has grown simple and streamlined over the years.  Today, it is a relatively straightforward process to switch energy suppliers.

By negotiating a more attractive contract or moving to a better provider, you could save a few hundred pounds every year.  The small inconvenience of switching providers will pay off for many years to come.

But before you take the plunge and sign up with a new energy company, check to ensure that you will really be getting a better deal and that the alternative you are switching over to will deliver service of a comparable quality.

5. Don’t Pay High Exit Fees

If you find a energy supplier who provides you with greater value than your present company, then you should be free to move.  Unfortunately, many energy companies lock you in to a long term contract and threaten to impose hefty exit fees if you break it.

But you don’t have to succumb and pay.

Whenever an energy provider changes the price or tariff, your contract signed with them in the beginning has been altered.  You can insist that your energy company not punish you with high exit fees for switching.

You may have to escalate the issue to regulatory authorities who keep track of this behavior.

Before doing so, make sure you haven’t forgotten terms and conditions you accepted in the contract you signed.  A common oversight is not informing the energy company well in advance of the day you are switching providers, especially when most contracts require that you provide sufficient notice of any move to a competing provider.

This means you must cover all costs incurred until the contract period ends.

There you have it… 5 easy ways to prevent energy companies from ripping you off.

For more on how to save on your energy bills and put some extra cash in your pocket, check out our special report on how to ‘Save On Energy Bills