Problems with bills
Power, gas, phone, water... the list of bills can seem endless. We show you how to avoid paying more than you need to.
Keep your contracts and bills in a file where you can easily refer to them if there is a problem. Check that the right names are on the bill and always inform the service provider is someone moves in or out. Make sure you know how the charges are calculated and which kind of payment scheme you are signed up for. This way it is easier to spot a mistake early on.
If your gas bill seems much too high, see if it has been taken from an estimate. If so, ask for a meter reading, which will often be much lower than the estimate. If you have a complaint about the bill or the service, raise the matter directly with the gas company to begin with. Be polite but firm and remember to note down the time and date of any phone calls, and the person you spoke to.
Ask for written details of their complaints procedure and compensation scheme. If you're still not happy, get in touch with gas and electricity watchdog Consumer Direct (NIAUR in Northern Ireland). They may take the matter up on your behalf.
Phone and broadband bills
If you think the charge is too high, check your contract and look carefully at your itemised bill. Your only hope is to spot unauthorised use of your phone, or a fault that is the responsibility of the phone company. If you're going to complain, ask the company for a copy of their code of practice and complaint handling procedure.
If you have no luck with the phone company you can try an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. There are currently two ADR schemes - Otelo and CISAS - that act as an independent middleman between the service provider and the customer when things go wrong. Ofcom, who regulate the telecommunications industry, have a downloadable booklet explaining the complaints process. Alternatively, you can contact them on 0300 1233 333 for more advice.
"Make sure you know how your bill charges are calculated and which payment schemes you are signed up for."
Pay TV bills
If you're not happy with the service you have received from your satelite or cable TV provider, you should in the first case complain to the company that provide the service. If that doesn't resolve the issue, who you can complain to depends on whether your pay-TV package is the part of a bundle of services or not. If it is bundled with your broadband and telephone, you can try one of the ADR schemes mentioned above.
If your bill is wrong, or the services you have paid for are not supplied, take this up with the water company directly. Remember to note all calls that you make and keep copies of any letters that you send. Ask for their code of practice and compensation scheme details.
If you are still having problems, get in touch with Ofwat, the government watchdog, by phoning 0121 6251 300 (NIAUR in Northern Ireland). You can also make a local complaint with the nearest Customer Services Committee; details can be obtained from Ofwat.
Make sure you are getting the best deal by shopping around. Check out switchwithwhich.co.uk for help finding the best gas and electricity suppliers. Compare best telephone deals on uswitch.com/home-phone/ and see moneysupermarket for broadband offers.
Getting expert help
If you are having problems with any of your bills, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.
Read the comment policy
Use our free question and answer service and speak to an expert!