After pressure from the public, Ofgem are finally looking into the way energy companies are hiking the direct debits of their customers by four or five times what they were.
Unfortunately, many energy suppliers will now only accept customers who pay by direct debit and this is the reason why: They have control over how much you pay.
Ofgem should force these companies into allowing energy bills to be paid by other methods e.g. by cheque on receipt of a paper bill (which is what I do).
My brother died of hypothermia one winter. He was found lying next to an electric fire that was turned off. I found out that his energy supplier had taken an additional £5,000 through his direct debit. The fire was probably off because he thought he didn’t have the money to put it on!
Ofgem should also look into ‘standing charges’. British Gas has just bumped up standing charges by 66 per cent so customers are now looking at £300 a year charge before they even use any fuel.
It also makes a mockery of ‘smart meters’ as they do not take into account this additional cost on top of fuel used.
At one time most companies offered a ‘no standing charge’ tariff so customers only paid for what they used. At least that way customers had some sort of control over how much they spent on fuel.