Backdate energy bills whether they are of gas or electricity are surprise for consumers and not so good ones. Backdated bills are annoying and can disturb your monthly energy bills. If your energy supplier has claimed a backdated bill, and you are not aware of them, then this guide is useful for you to know about what a back bill is and how you can handle it with your energy company.
In this read, we will cover the topic in a simple way to give you a better understanding of why suppliers claim to backdate payments? What are your legal rights in this regard? And how long they can backdate a bill.
But before we move on to the answer, all these questions, let’s check out what backdating is? How does it work? How to detect a backdated bill and what are the benefits of not paying them.
How Long Can An Energy Company Back Date A Bill?
An energy supplier can back date your bill for up to 12 months. How it works is that all the chargeable energy usage charges will be calculated from this date and not your original billing date or when you actually used the supply of electricity.
Energy companies or suppliers can send backdate energy bills for 12 months, as per the rules determined by the Ofgem in 2019. These obligations ensure that consumers don’t face financial difficulties in their energy payments.
Usually, energy companies apply backdated bills to households who don’t send their meter readings timely or properly, and suppliers need to estimate their energy consumption.
Your energy supplier can send you to backdate bills only for the past 12 months, not beyond or before this time period.
This will lead to high bills, which is why it’s important to detect a backdated bill. How long they can backdate a bill?
Suppliers are allowed up to 12 months in order for them claim back dated payments from their customers. This means that if you have signed up with the same energy supplier at any point in the last 12 month period, you can be billed.
What is backdating?
Backdating is an illegal practice in most cases and as per the Theft Act 1968. However, that’s not the case when it comes to energy backdate bills.
In simple words, backdate document or energy bill means that it is in the past till date then it should be. Generally, the practice is not recommended and, as mentioned, can be stated as illegal in the case of certain invoices and documents. However, there can be some circumstances or situations in which backdating is legal and acceptable.
Every so often, a document or bill is backdated in order to make it precise or accurate. But it’s vital and must that both parties agree to that condition and remain in the agreement.
Why are energy suppliers allowed to send backdated bills to you?
Even though energy suppliers and service providers are allowed to charge you against your energy usage, you only have used and not paid for it. Otherwise, they don’t have the right to charge you with any bill. In simple words, they can charge you within defined limits even if they have charge you mistakenly.
Even if your energy suppliers have been charging fewer bills to you longer than a year, and it is evident still they cannot bill you for any energy that you have consumed before a year. This rule is also applicable if there is some kind of human error or a mistake.
However, there can be various exceptions to this 12-month rule. Some of these exceptions are if you found stealing the power, or you tried to temper your meter, physically blocked attempts to take your meter.
However, not submitting meter readings is a complicated thing. The authorities will not automatically assume that you have been perverse and adjudicate against you. Every such case is treated on the merits.
Why do energy suppliers send backdate bills?
Energy companies send backdated bills to claim any money that they owe to their customers. Mostly this is because consumers were underpaying than their actual energy consumption. Usually, this backdate thing becomes a big problem for all those households who have expected energy bills.
In such cases, service providers use their best-guess, evaluate your past energy usage, and charge you accordingly. This is also applicable to those who pay their bills through Direct Debit.
For example, if you pay a fixed amount of £100 every month against the energy charges, but your actual energy consumption is around £150 each month, then your service provider will be out of pocket by £50 each month. In this case, they will send backdated bills to you to claim the money that they owe to you.
This can be a nasty surprise or a shock to common customers as they will see a hefty and sudden rise to their monthly payments.
What to do if your energy supplier sends you backdated bills?
If your energy supplier or service provider tries to charge you with a backdated bill, the first and most important thing for you is to check the billing period and how far it stretches. This is because they cannot charge you before 12 months; hence you should not pay if that period extends back more than a year.
However, if the backdated bill is within or up to the last 12 months only, then verify that whether they are claiming the right amount. This means you need to check the current and previous meter readings demonstrated on the oldest bill within the 12 months.
For example, if you receive a backdated bill in Feb 2021, you need to check your meter readings from Feb 2020. Besides, also monitor and verify your current meter readings.
Then, you should check and compare these readings with your current meter readings, and if they tally, tell your supplier and pay the amount to them. However, if they are not still, you need to contact your service provider and discuss the issue with them.
You need to follow your supplier’s official complaints process to get your billing problem resolved in such a case.
Lastly, if they don’t respond or handle the problem, you can contact Citizens Advice by dialing 08454 04 05 06 or at their official website.
How can you avoid backdated energy bills?
Twelve months is a long period, and if you were underpaying during those months, you might face some hefty energy bills from your supplier. In simple words, even the most responsible and good consumers can get a bill that they will find hard to pay.
The best way to avoid backdated or old energy bills or catchup bills is to submit your meter readings properly to your energy supplier. This regular submission of meter readings will enable them to check their estimates and bill you accurately. This also allows them to make necessary adjustments in your payments if needed.
If you find this process too complicated or don’t have enough time to do all this stuff, the best thing is to opt for the new smart meters rather than traditional meters.
Smart meters are designed to provide you real-time data on your consumption, and they can also help you reduce your overall energy consumption.
Plus, there is no need to manually send meter readings because smart meters will do it for you via a secure wireless network. So, be smart and get more accurate bills by switching to the smart meter.
Take Control of Your Energy Expenses!
Backdated energy bills can be a big problem, and above all, they are annoying to normal households. But these are controllable if you think and take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Yes, it is possible for you to save some bucks without compromising your services.
The first thing you can do is switch to smart home appliances, as it will improve your overall energy efficiency and reduce your energy consumption significantly. This change will give you a head start, but you must also think about using other energy sources such as solar power.
You can also hire the services of third-party vendors in this regard. Whether you answer your questions or are serious about reducing your energy bills, they can help you out.
How long can an energy supplier chase you for debt?
An energy supplier in UK can chase your debt for six years.
Utilities company debts, which includes gas and electricity providers in UK, will be able to pursue payment from customers up until the point that they are due to take ownership of your property. They may still try and recover money after this time if you have agreed a repayment plan. You also need to know that it’s possible for your energy supplier to claim a backdated bill.
Suppliers and companies or any energy company in UK are allowed up to 12 months of the customer signing up with them, which means they will charge you for usage that occurred before this start date.
What are back billing rules?
In UK, back billing rules are not recognised by law.
However, energy suppliers are allowed to bill you for usage that occurred before the date of signing up with them, and these bills can be backdated for up to 12 months in order for supply companies to claim their money from customers who were not aware they had done so.
How Long can water bills be backdated?
In UK, Water Bills can be backdated up to 12 months.
Water suppliers are not allowed to charge customers for water usage that occurred before the date they signed up with them, but can do so until the point of ownership transfer or if you have agreed a repayment plan and there is an outstanding balance. Water Bills in UK work in a similar way to how backdated gas and electricity bills are handled in terms of the length of time they can be claimed. How long?
Suppliers have up to 12 months from when you sign up with them, which means water charges that occurred before this date will still need to be paid either by cash or through your account if it’s been set-up for payments.
What is bill backdating fraud?
Bill Backdating Fraud takes place where an energy supplier uses your old meter readings as their own data . This process must be reported and customers should not pay these bills until verification has taken place at another date for accuracy levels. You also need to know that bill backdating fraud is a criminal offence, which means that if you are found to have committed this act then it can lead to prosecution. How long?
If the bill backdating fraud has been executed by an energy supplier they will be punishable for up to two years in prison and or fines of £50,000. Authorised and regulated backdating therefore is important from electricity supplier or any company which could supply supply energy to you.
You can also get insurance to avoid heavy losses in future.
Check Your Meter Readings Regularily?
In order to avoid any mishaps in future, it is always a good idea to note regular meter readings to avoid any back bills and deal with your supplier easily. It is also good to keep a tab on energy used and avoid getting higher bill for energy. By keeping a regular record, you can avoid heavy payment of bills.
Backdated bills are not necessarily illegal, but they can be misleading and deceptive if the consumer isn’t aware of it. Utilities have been allowed to send backdated bills for many years because regulators see them as a way to get consumers on time with their payments.
The problem is that people who don’t know about this practice might think they’re getting one bill every month rather than having some months where two or more bills arrive at once. This could lead you to overpay your utility company while underpaying other utilities like gas suppliers- which would put you in an awkward position when those companies come asking for payment too.
To avoid confusion or being caught off guard by backdated energy bills from your supplier, make sure to get in touch with them on their customer services number.
References : Check the energy back-billing rules