COLUMN: Back billing principle caps usage

Gas and Electricity bill from British Gas
Picture by Dean Atkins
Gas and Electricity bill from British Gas Picture by Dean Atkins

I’ve just received a £2,000 gas and electricity bill for payments going back two years. I’m not sure if I owe this money – what should I do?

This is a popular query that Roger receives. Here he explains what to do...

The first thing you should do is work out whether your energy supplier has made a mistake.

Your supplier may have the wrong meter reading or your meter may not be working properly. They may even have sent you someone else’s bill. Take a meter reading then call your supplier to discuss your bill.

If your supplier hasn’t sent you an accurate bill for more than a year, they shouldn’t ask you to pay for more than 12 months’ usage. This is the ‘back-billing’ principle, which applies to all suppliers.

If you think your supplier is at fault but they are still trying to charge you for energy used more than 12 months ago, make a complaint. They should look into your case and provide an explanation.

You may find that your supplier has billed you for the right amount and they are not at fault, particularly if you haven’t provided regular or accurate meter readings. In this case you will probably have to pay some or all of the money.

If you don’t think you can afford to pay all at once, ask for a repayment plan.

Tell your supplier how much you can afford each month. Be ready to give details of your income and regular spending.

You may find it helpful to send them this information in writing too.

Citizens Advice Derbyshire Districts offers free, confidential and independent advice on any subject and you can call in to see us in person or contact us by telephone.

Drop into the office in the Town Hall, Bank Road, in Matlock from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

You can also call for advice on 0844 375 2712 weekdays, from 9.30am to 4pm.