THE Sun's Squeeze Team wins back money for readers who have had a refund or billing issue with a company and are struggling to get it resolved.
This week, our consumer champion helped a couple who were being charged double for their standing charges get their money back and work out why their remaining bills were higher than expected.
Q. OUR energy supplier EDF has charged us far more over the past year than the rates we agreed on over the phone.
We received a renewal quote for £5,174 and responded asking for a better rate, whereon we were quoted £2,456 in total.
However, we have ended up being charged almost double this.
We’re in our eighties and can’t afford to pay so much. Please can you help?
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David and Sue Ross, Manchester
A. YOU thought you’d got a good deal when you received a quote on the phone for £2,456 last May, with a monthly direct debit of £205.
So imagine your horror when your bills were suddenly coming in at hundreds of pounds more than this.
You’ve both spent months trying to tell EDF it had made a mistake and even contacted the Energy Ombudsman, but neither could seem to help.
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When I spoke with EDF, it acknowledged its agent had indeed given you the wrong quote for your standing charges – the fixed daily fees you pay for energy.
You were quoted 22.25p for your electricity daily charge instead of 42.25p.
It also explained that you were originally quoted a total figure based on estimated usage for your property rather than your actual usage, which is far higher than EDF would have predicted.
However, EDF said you were sent a letter at the start of your contract on May 11 last year which confirmed its quote for your actual usage instead.
According to EDF, the letter also explained that you had a 14-day “cooling off period” where you could leave the contract if you weren’t happy.
But as you were adamant EDF had made a mistake with your quote, you tried to contest the rate rather than ending the contract during that period.
You have also so far asked EDF to reduce your direct debits whenever it has recommended an increase, which has built up a debt on your account.
This is now resulting in much higher monthly bills than expected.
EDF has now paid you £150 for the difference between the standing charges quote and what you paid, as well as £100 of compensation for the confusion around your remaining bills.
A spokesperson for EDF said: “We’re sorry to hear about the problems Mr Ross has been facing.
“Unfortunately, Mr Ross was quoted an incorrect electricity standing charge during a phone call for his tariff and an estimate of usage, as opposed to his actual consumption.
“In recognition of our mistake, we’ve offered to apply a goodwill credit of £150 to cover the difference in the electricity Daily Standing Charge quoted, alongside a further goodwill credit of £100 for the inconvenience caused.”
EDF has agreed to call you this week to help figure out what's costing you so much and discuss how to reduce your usage going forward.
Our Squeeze Team has now won back a total of £153,164 for readers.
What are my rights if I'm charged more than I expected?
When agreeing a new contract, it's a good idea to get any quotes down in writing as soon as possible so you can use this as evidence later on if needed.
Read the fine print of any paperwork carefully and make sure you fully understand any charges involved.
With most contracts, you have a cooling off period where you can leave without any penalty fees if you change your mind.
It's a good idea to make a note of when this ends so you don't miss it by mistake.
If your bill is more than expected or you believe it's wrong, challenge it with your provider.
Explain what you agreed to pay and ask them to reduce your bill to this amount.
If you aren't getting anywhere, check whether the company has a formal complaints process and go down this route.
If they don't respond or you don't agree with their decision, you can try an alternative dispute resolution scheme such as Resolver. They can liaise with the company for you.
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You may also be able to take your case to an Ombudsman, depending on the sector.
For energy bill disputes, contact the Energy Ombudsman.
You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.
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