Energy supplier problems are common in deregulated markets. Luckily, experienced Texas electricity providers can help mitigate risks and eliminate issues. For example, if you are on dual-billing with your local utility company and supplier, it is essential to check that the meter reading dates match up. Otherwise, your bills could be inaccurate and lead to overpayments.
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It’s common for energy prices to rise, but if yours have risen dramatically and you haven’t changed anything, there could be a reason. For example, if there is a cold snap, your suppliers might charge more to meet the higher demand for gas and electricity. It is because they’ll need to pay more for power from their suppliers – who will pass this increase on to customers. If you need help to keep up with payments, contact your supplier. They should be able to explain the situation and set you up with a new affordable payment arrangement for your circumstances. Alternatively, they may have a trust or hardship fund to help you get energy-efficient boilers and other home improvements. If you’re a vulnerable customer with health or financial issues, ask to be put on their Priority Services Register so that they can offer extra help.
While old utilities were often faceless institutions, many of today’s energy suppliers are small local businesses that care about their customers. They also have the technology to make it easier than ever for you to compare deals online. It means that when your contract ends where it needs updating, you’ll have a window of opportunity to shop around for better business energy deals. Leaving your provider in time will avoid being rolled onto their most expensive tariff, which can be a costly mistake for your business.
An energy supplier can charge you extra fees, adding to a huge bill. Check your account to see if you’re being charged for things like unit rates and standing charges and aren’t paying for something you shouldn’t be. One big way that suppliers can overcharge you is by increasing your prices after a fixed contract has ended. Search for better business gas and electricity offers if your contract is about to expire to avoid being switched to a more expensive standard tariff. Another way that suppliers can overcharge you is by sending you estimated bills. It is often done if you don’t provide them with regular meter readings, leading to inaccurate statements. If your supplier is doing this, try to give them a meter reading as soon as possible so they can stop sending you estimates and accurate bills. If you’re having issues with your supplier, you should complain. You can do this by email, letter, or telephone and keep records of any correspondence. Energy companies must treat complaints fairly, so don’t be afraid to try and resolve your problem by contacting them.
One of the most significant issues people call Citizens Advice about is inaccurate billing by their energy suppliers. The problem can be costly for businesses and strain the finances of struggling people. Providing accurate billing is an essential requirement that all suppliers should offer. Unfortunately, there is a chasm between the best and worst suppliers. Those in the bottom five were five times more likely to issue inaccurate bills to their customers than those in the top five. Inaccurate bills are often caused by suppliers recording erroneous meter readings. You should submit your meter readings to your supplier, as they are the only way to ensure you are being charged correctly. Inaccurate meter readings are the most common reason suppliers send you a so-called back bill – a catch-up for over-payments calculated using estimated readings on previous statements. If you receive a back bill for more than a year’s worth of consumption, talk to your supplier immediately and explain that you are protected by the rules for back-billing, which state that you should only be billed for usage based on an actual meter reading. If you can’t afford to pay the amount you owe, ask your supplier for a repayment plan that considers your budget and circumstances.
The conditions under which electricity providers may disconnect you are very rigorous. They must offer a range of ways to pay your bill and can only disconnect you as a last resort. They must also give you proper notice before they disconnect your supply. However, it’s only sometimes clear that these rules are being followed. According to a new report by the Center for Biological Diversity, Energy and Policy Institute and BailoutWatch, utility companies have disconnected U.S. households 5.7 million times since 2020 – a figure that is much higher than the 3.3 million disconnection figures reported by the industry to regulators. Contact your supplier immediately if you are having trouble paying your gas or electricity payment and are concerned that they may consider disconnecting you. They should be willing to discuss your payment options and offer a repayment plan that assesses your ability to pay. If they are not, and you can’t reach an agreement, they will need to get a warrant from the magistrate’s court before disconnecting your supply. It should be told to you in advance, so you can seek legal advice or ask a local adviser to accompany you to the hearing.