MILLIONS of energy customers at one energy firm are being urged to check their bills due to a data glitch.
It comes as several Ovo Energy customers received bills of up to £49,000.
The energy firm has since blamed the error on a technical glitch when SSE customers had their accounts transitioned over to Ovo Energy.
The news comes as one customer told The Guardian that she owed £44,800 for two months’ supply to her one-bedroom flat.
The Ovo Energy customer said: “I’d been asked to send photos of my meters in August as Ovo believed there was an issue.
“I did so and my account went from £600 in credit to £19,000 in debt. Despite Ovo assuring me this was a mistake, the debt rose to over £44,000 in September.”
The inflated bills were caused by a mismatch between the opening and closing meter readings taken when some SSE accounts were shifted to Ovo.
Another customer’s projected quarterly energy consumption in her two-person household rocketed to £49,000 when she submitted meter readings.
A spokesperson for Ovo said: “We have processed millions of successful migrations to date, but we’re aware of a small handful of customers receiving large projections.
“To resolve this, our teams have set up an extra control to check for large bills to make sure we identify them and fix them before they’re sent to customers.”
Ovo Energy customers concerned about their bills should get in touch via the company’s live chat on its website or by calling 0330 175 9669.
How to challenge your bill
Before you dispute your energy bill, you need to know your rights.
If you pay by direct debit, then this monthly amount should be “fair and reasonable”.
If you don’t think it is, you can complain to the company in the first instance.
If you’re not happy with the outcome you can take it to the independent Energy Ombudsman to dispute, but there are a few steps before you get to that stage.
Your supplier must clearly explain why it’s chosen that amount for your direct debit.
If you’ve got credit on your account, you have every right to get it back – although some experts recommend keeping it there through the summer, so your bills don’t go up in the winter when you use more energy.
Your supplier must refund you or explain exactly why not otherwise and the regulator, Ofgem, can fine suppliers if they don’t.
If you are disputing a bill, taking a meter reading is a must.
That way the company can’t rely on estimates, which may lead to you being overcharged – a reading leaves no room for error either, as it shows precisely what you actually used.
If it’s lower than your estimate, you can ask your provider to lower your monthly direct debit to a more suitable amount.
Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert team says that if you find you’re always in credit, you should request the direct debit be lowered to reflect your actual annual usage and meter readings.
But beware that you don’t end up in debt later on with a bigger catch-up bill at the end of the year from underpayments racking up.
If you don’t have success in negotiating a lower payment then you can put in a complaint.
You can usually get in touch with your provider by email, letter or telephone, but keep a record of contact that you make so you can reference it later if need be.
Charities like Citizens Advice have template complaint letters you can use to help with the process.
Meanwhile, free online tools from Resolver.co.uk can also help you track and manage a complaint step-by-step.
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