Martin Lewis says energy bill ‘smells wrong’ as direct debits DOUBLE for 1 in 4
MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis said of massive price jumps that have seen roughly a third of energy customers see price increases of 100% or more, “that smells wrong to me.”
Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
According to studies, direct debit payments have at least doubled for every fourth energy consumer.
British Gas and Octopus are among the firms chosen in a poll of angry customers.
Energy prices rose 54% in April, but some direct debits rose 100%. Money expert Martin Lewis, left, said: “This smells wrong.”
Households already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis are faced with increasing debits for energy bills.
But one in four customers claim their prices have at least doubled despite having a price cap and credit.
A survey by MoneySavingExpert.com found that companies like British Gas were among the users complaining about.
Watchdog Ofgem, which allowed suppliers to hike prices by an average of 54% in early April, has promised to look into the claims.
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis said: “This smells wrong to me. You should only see increases consistent with the 45% to 65% price cap.
“Up to 80% of people in England, Scotland and Wales pay their energy bills with the monthly fixed debit.
“Nevertheless, for months I’ve been hearing from people who are shocked that their direct debits are going up two or three times.”
It has already been asked whether some providers have jacked up the direct debit procedure.
Last month, Jonathan Brearley, Chief Executive of Ofgem, said there were “worrying signs” that payments were being increased “by more than necessary”.
British Gas customers have made the most complaints about direct debits.
The average increase was 72%, with a third saying they at least doubled.
The average increase for Octupus customers is said to be 80%, with 32% saying their payments more than doubled.
At Shell Energy, 30% said direct debit payouts had doubled, with an average increase of 70%.
And in the poll, conducted between April 26 and May 3, 27% of E.on users said their numbers had increased by 100% or more, with the average being 71%.
Mr Lewis urged affected customers to dispute their payments and complain to the Energy Ombudsman if suppliers refuse to reduce them.
He added: “Under corporate license terms, you have a right to a fair direct debit.”
Its website shared the survey results with Ofgem and Ministers.
The watchdog said: “Protecting energy customers is our top priority.
“We recently wrote to suppliers to make them aware that we are commissioning a series of checks to ensure, among other things, that they are handling direct debits fairly.
“Once Money Saving Expert provides us with this data, we will examine it as part of this crucial review.”
British Gas insisted it does not acknowledge the figures but said it was difficult to comment without examples.
It added: “Help and support is available.”
Octopus Energy said: “The survey data is wrong. For example, they claim that 32% of our customers have seen double direct debits.
“The reality is it’s 15%, less than half of that.”
Shell Energy said the increase in direct debit payments “can be partly explained by the influx of accurate meter readings that change the usage that we make the calculations on”.
Labor’s Lisa Nandy accused No10 of failing to support households crippled by rising energy prices.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/martin-lewis-says-energy-bill-26908078 Martin Lewis says energy bill 'smells wrong' as direct debits DOUBLE for 1 in 4