The 5 Cs of Bill Checking
Our experienced energy consultants check thousands of bills every month for our clients and we find a significant number of them to be wrong. Each of those wrong bills could potentially have cost our clients money if we hadn’t quickly rectified the error.
What could go wrong with your bill?
In our experience, there are five fundamental aspects to consider when checking if your bill is correct: contract; continuity; consumption; cost; and calculations. Our handy checklist below helps to illustrate what can go wrong.
It is relatively common for suppliers to apply the wrong rates to bills and you might be surprised at just how many times we uncover this issue.
Sometimes, we discover rates have changed midbilling period as a result of a contract change and it means rates are incorrectly applied across both periods. In addition, discounts for having direct debits can often be omitted.
This is about simply checking that the bill continues correctly from the previous bill. You can easily check that the opening read is the same as the closing read from the previous bill, or that the opening balance reflects the information provided about payment since the last bill was produced. This is especially important when you are transferring from one supplier to another.
The most common errors we come across relate to consumption information. Whilst you would think that SMART meters or automated meter reading (AMR) devices should have minimised this, it is not always the case. Clients are often billed to estimated reads, despite having an AMR device or SMART meter fitted. Equally, we see many occasions on which meter reads are transposed across the time periods, with day being billed as night, and night as day, or, worse, evening and weekends as day units.
Since the P272 regulations came into force, more businesses have moved to half-hourly metered. Half-hourly settled meters do tend to provide the most accurate billing information, but they present other issues around the non-energy costs. Many of these will be newly applied to the meter and are included in your energy costs, but are sometimes wrong. These tend to be the most difficult to check. It usually requires a strong knowledge of the contract that has been signed and the level of flexibility that can therefore be applied, as well as the relationship to the consumption information.
Here you are checking that the actual costs have been correctly attributed and that payment plans have been actioned.
A very common issue we face is when direct debit payments have not been applied. It is a simple issue to fix, but in the period before it is spotted, clients can find themselves facing late payment charges, and mounting bills.
We regularly find errors surrounding the VAT that is charged. Residential care homes are eligible for 5% VAT, but we have supported claims for many clients who have been charged at 20% VAT over a number of years.
The calculations that are used to derive the figures on your bill are sometimes complex. Since they are mostly computer programmed and will only reflect the information that has been put into the system, you would expect them to be accurate. However, we do come across cases where the calculations are incorrect. Experienced energy consultants will quickly spot where an equation for gas or electricity consumption has been miscalculated.
Sometimes, the simplest of errors can have a significant impact on your bill. Gas meters that are showing as imperial meters on your bill when they are metric will create a bill for nearly three times the amount of energy cost you should be charged!
How can a bill validation service add value?
Our invoice validation service is a checking and confirmation service focused on identifying any possible discrepancies in energy bills. From ensuring the numbers are based on accurate usage data, to guaranteeing the correct VAT rates are being applied; we deliver £1000s in savings each year to our clients. We are quickly able to right any mistakes, chase any money owed and then have it returned to our clients. Contact us for more information.
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