One in three billed incorrectly for energy

More than a quarter - or 27% - of British households have received inaccurate bills from their energy providers within the last two years, according to new figures from price comparison website uSwitch.

And of these, more than one in 10 have been billed incorrectly at least twice, with the average mistake taking more than two months to rectify.

For more than 10 million - or 40% - of the households affected, the upshot of receiving an inaccurate bill from an energy supplier has been unexpectedly owing the company money due to the discrepancy between an estimated bill and the actual amount of energy consumed.

Typically, this type of mistake results in them having to find an extra £147. That is £5 higher than the average discrepancy recorded in 2009, but £6 lower than the same figure for last year.

Unsurprisingly, the apparent inability of energy firms to provide accurate bills has resulted in a growing number of households taking matters into their own hands and sending in their own meter readings. Almost three quarters of households have provided their energy supplier with a meter reading in the last six months alone.

Ann Robinson at uSwitch believes this is the best way consumers can combat the problem. She said: "Inaccurate bills are no laughing matter for consumers who can end up out of pocket and wasting time and effort trying to resolve billing blunders. However, the fact that a growing number of households are providing suppliers with meter readings should help to improve the accuracy of our energy bills. Consumers should really aim to provide a reading once a quarter as failure to do so can result in receiving an estimated bill, which is where many of the issues lie. It is a simple step to take, but it really is in all of our interests to make sure that suppliers are using up-to-date information on our bills."

Despite their shocking record, however, energy suppliers are not the worst organisations when it comes to inaccuracies, according to research commissioned by uSwitch. While energy companies were voted the worst in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, this year HM Revenue & Customs has the dubious honour of beating them into second place.

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