Millions of British consumers who pay their household bills by direct debit are in line to receive a refund from their energy suppliers, after it was announced yesterday that five of the 'Big Six' will pay money back to those who are in credit.
A recent investigation revealed that, with 13 million British households paying a fixed sum by direct debit each month, many are overpaying during the low-usage summer months, yet energy companies simply keep hold of the cash, which is estimated to be up to £2 billion.
Industry experts concluded that firms were thereby making up to £36 million a year in interest. Consumer anger led to a summit between energy firms and ministers back in November. Now five companies have agreed to refund any account that is in credit by more than £5, and to review customer accounts every six months.
Energy minister Greg Barker told the Daily Mail: "This is an excellent result for consumers worried about energy prices, and this is a good step towards restoring trust in the majority of companies. We have still a lot more work to do, but this shows Coalition ministers are capable of delivering."
A spokesman for npower told the Mail: "We're looking at this suggestion but we need to be sure it reflects what our customers want. Our research strongly suggests customers want to be given a choice between a full refund today and keeping their direct debit payments down tomorrow."
He added: "However, we do automatically refund credit balances of over £60, and customers in credit can request and receive a refund at any time."
What do you think? Would you prefer to keep your direct debit payments down, or receive refunds when you are in credit? Leave your comments below...