What is energy back-billing and what are rules regarding it?
What is Energy Back-Billing?
Energy back-billing is the term used when energy suppliers send a catch-up energy bill for the gas or electricity used that has not been billed for. This could be due to the energy supplier failing to bill the customer or when the customer has not been billed correctly for the energy that they have used over a period of time.
There is no limit to the amount of energy that can be back-billed but there are circumstances where an energy supplier has a time limit on the length of time that they can back-bill for.
What Are the Rules Regarding Energy Back-Billing?
The key back-billing rule is that there is a time limit for how long an energy supplier can back-bill for where the energy supplier is at fault for the unbilled amount of energy used.
This is set at 12 months and any energy consumption errors prior to this 12-month period are not allowed to be billed. The energy supplier must detect their error and amend the bill before issuing a new bill for the correct amount of energy usage within the 12-month period.
If the reason for the back-billing is the customer’s fault, then the back-billing length of time can exceed 12 months.
What Circumstances Does the 12-Month Back-Billing Rule Apply?
There are several circumstances where the back-billing time limit applies which is when:
- The energy supply has failed to send you an energy bill after you have requested one
- You are billed using estimated meter readings even though you have provided valid meter readings
- Your energy bill is incorrect because the energy supplier has mixed up your meter readings and they have failed to put this right
- You have reported a fault or query about your account or meter that the energy supplier has failed to rectify or address which has resulted in a large debt accumulating on your account
- The energy supplier has not carried out an account review on the payment amount within a 15-month period when paying by direct debit and an energy debt has accumulated as a result of this
When Does the Back-Billing Rule Not Apply?
The back-billing rule will not apply if you have:
- Not attempted to contact your energy supplier to pay for the energy used
- Deliberately avoided paying your energy bill
- Not responded to the energy suppliers attempts to resolve issues or obtain meter readings
Who Does the Back-Billing Rule Apply to?
The back-billing rule is a voluntary arrangement that has ensured greater protection for both domestic customers and microbusinesses.
These new protections had a phased rollout where the domestic protections were introduced in May 2018 and the microbusinesses protections were rolled out in November 2018.
What to do If Your Energy Supplier Is Not Adhering to the Back-Billing Rule?
If you believe that your energy supplier is incorrectly applying the back-billing rule, then you should raise a complaint with them about it. You should follow your energy supplier’s complaints procedure that should be available on their website or they should provide it on request.
If your complaint is not successfully resolved within eight weeks you can contact the Energy Ombudsman for an impartial review of your complaint. You can also seek help from the Citizens Advice service at any point for support.