You know what it’s like when a friend owes you money – do you bring it up or wait for them to mention it? That’s a tricky one, maybe you’ll just let it slide. If it’s less than a fiver we say don’t bother.
But get this. Around 12 million of Britain’s households are in credit to their energy suppliers to the tune of £1.5 billion collectively, according to 2019 research. One in 10 are owed over £200.
That’s not all. Back in 2014, the ‘big six’ energy suppliers launched the My Energy Credit campaign in order to return credit back to former customers. It’s estimated £153m was owed to these former customers, who overpaid before switching to a rival supplier. If you made a switch in the past six years whilst in credit, you could be in line to claim around £50 from your previous supplier.
We reckon these energy suppliers make enough money, so you definitely need to bring this up. Right, glad we’re agreed. Now let’s get to work.
When are you entitled to a refund?
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Customers are entitled to a refund when they have overpaid on their energy bills. This could occur in a number of scenarios. Perhaps you’ve moved house and had credit left on your energy account at the property you left. If you were renting, claiming money back from energy companies is a similar process to how tenants can set up energy. Get your supplier on the phone.
Or maybe you switched supplier with credit remaining on the account with the old energy provider. These situations can also be filed under ‘money remaining in your account, chase old supplier’. Be careful though, as sometimes cancellation fees from switching suppliers can cancel out any excess credit in your account.
You could be owed money by your current supplier. If you pay by direct debit you will be paying the same amount of money on your energy bills each month – even though your usage may differ. This usually evens out over the course of a year, but may alter significantly due to circumstances. Say your teenager goes off to university and takes that mini fridge he had in his room with him. The couple that were lodging in your spare room move on. You and your partner go on holiday for six months (that’s the dream ticket).
In these situations the amount you are paying for your energy bills will be much higher than your consumption, therefore you will be owed money.
How can you get a refund?
Firstly, it’s worth saying three of the ‘big six’ – British Gas, Npower and Scottish Power – refund customer credit automatically. Big gold stars for them. These refunds are paid once a year on the anniversary of when you first signed up to your tariff. Unlike your wedding anniversary, it’s automatically remembered so you can rest easy there.
However, not every energy supplier is this conscientious – over half of bill payers have to chase for refunds.
Working out whether you are entitled to a refund can be straightforward. Just get your most recent bill from your gas and electricity supplier. On it will be details about whether you are owed money or not. If you have an online account, even better. Log in and check your balance.
If you can’t do either of those, call your current supplier and give them an up-to-date meter reading. They may try and convince you to leave money on your account, which is actually not a bad idea if you’re going into winter. But remember, the choice is yours. Even if you end up following their advice and leaving some money on there, it can help to know you made the decision yourself.
If you think a former supplier owes you money it’s the same story. But there’s obviously no point leaving money in an account you are no longer using.
When may you get compensation?
If it takes longer than 10 working days to receive compensation from an energy supplier, you may be entitled to more extra money.
You could be entitled to a £30 payment if a supplier is late in refunding your credit balance after you switch.
Under new rules from industry watchdog Ofgem – they only came in on 1 May 2019, so you can be forgiven if this is the first you’re hearing of them – customers will also be entitled to compensation up to £120 for apparent “erroneous switches”, where they are mistakenly switched to the wrong supplier.
Ofgem reckon these policies will benefit around 200,000 people a year. We tip our hats to them.
Whether you are owed a refund or not, make sure you are on the best energy deal possible.
Here at Look After My Bills we will switch you to the perfect tariff for your needs and continue to do so every time a better offer arrives. All you have to do is give us a few details and we will get to work.