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10 Common Utility Bill Errors

No one wants to pay for energy they don't even use.

Here are 10 common bill errors and what you can do to eliminate them.

Invoice billing period overlaps with a previous bill.

The number of billed days on a utility invoice can vary from month to month. You might be charged for 29 days one billing period and 31 days the next. With access to more granular data for each processed invoice, you can better determine where this month’s bill overlaps with the previous month’s.

Balance Brought Forward (BBF) applied to wrong account.

Often times a utility will apply a debit charge to invoices if there is an outstanding balance from previous billing periods. Don’t assume this BBF is being applied correctly; make sure you’re able to run a automatic check to see if the balance is actually associated with that account. (Receiving a debit charge not associated with the correct account, from a different customer entirely, or even for a previous balance that has already been paid is more common than you’d think.)

Error in invoice calculation.

Most utility tariffs include multiple line items, rates, and energy charges. How do you make sure all of these calculations are adding up to the correct amount? Adding up each individual line-item with a calculator would take forever. Having an automatic check in place will ensure calculation errors aren’t increasing your monthly utility bill.

Supplier contract period overlap.

Customers will often switch from one energy supplier to another in deregulated markets. Make sure your new contract is starting only after your old contract ends. By knowing if a new contract period overlaps with a previous contract, you won’t incur costs from different suppliers over the same period of time.

Exception deviation compared to previous periods.

Even if a customer is being billed for the correct amount of days or all of the invoice calculations are adding up correctly, tracking large deviations can help identify abnormal usage or other billing errors. Being able to identify if the cost or usage on a bill that is exceptionally high relative to the previous month, or to the same period last year, can help lead you to any underlying problem.

Invoice sent for closed account.

Customers with large building portfolios are consistently opening and closing utility accounts. However, even if you notify the supplier that an account should not be active beyond a certain date, or the account needs to be switched over to an incoming tenant, these closures can slip through the cracks. Make sure you’re not receiving invoices for an account in which you are no longer liable.

Wrong rates applied on a bill.

Utility rates and supplier contracts stipulate how much you should be paying for different line-item charges on a monthly bill. Making sure each charge on your monthly bill matches the appropriate utility rate or supply contract can be difficult, but doing this can help you identify when you are being billed at the wrong rate, or for a specific charge not actually specified on your contract.

Account credits not adjusted on new invoice.

When bill errors have been identified or excess utility payments have been made, suppliers will often provide customers with a credit on their upcoming invoice. When this happens, make sure this account credit is actually carried forward as an adjustment on your next bill. Otherwise, you might miss these savings.

Incorrect meter reading.

The kWh consumption used to determine your monthly energy charge is typically taken from a direct reading of your utility meter. If this reading is not accurate, you could be charged for more kWh than you actually used. Double check the meter reading on your bill to make sure it matches prior readings and doesn’t overlap with previous usage.

Duplicate line-item charges.

On occasion, utilities and suppliers will accidentally charge customers for the same line-item twice on one bill. By proactively reviewing your bills, you can spot these duplicate line-item charges and resolve the error before paying more than necessary.
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