Citizens Advice Bureau says it pays to monitor your energy supplier closely

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Energy companies have come under fire recently for inaccurate bills and poor customer care. Citizens Advice Bureau in Grangemouth have seen this first hand as many of their clients experience similar difficulties with their energy suppliers.

There have been some shocking stories about energy bills in recent weeks. The BBC reported on a holiday park owner receiving a monthly bill for £244,000 with another property owner receiving a "catch-up" bill for £16,000, before both bills were eventually wiped as they were incorrect. While these are extreme examples where it was clear to the customer something was wrong, they do highlight the need for all energy customers to be vigilant as not all errors are so obvious!

The Grangemouth & Bo’ness Citizens Advice Bureau has seen an increasing number of complaints, and in many cases helped their clients to avoid disconnection and/or receive repayments where they have been billed incorrectly.

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The energy market regulator, Ofgem, has also seen increased number of complaints, and have recently announced a number of changes which are intended to help energy customers.

Grangemouth and Bo'ness Citizens Advice Bureau manager Bill Palombo Grangemouth and Bo'ness Citizens Advice Bureau manager Bill Palombo
Grangemouth and Bo'ness Citizens Advice Bureau manager Bill Palombo

While we would have liked these changes to have come much sooner, some of the announcements, if implimented correctly, are very welcome. For example, new stronger Ofgem standards require energy suppliers to be easier to contact and offer debt repayment plans at the earliest opportunity. Ofgem have also strengthened the compensation standards where suppliers take too long to process customer requests to switch their energy supplier.

From April 1, suppliers must pay customers £30 compensation if the switch is not completed within five working days. Currently, compensation is only payable if switches take more than 15 days.

But Grangemouth CAB have concerns about some of the other Ofgem announcements.

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Ofgem have reintroduced permission for some energy suppliers, EDF, Octopus and Scottish Power to be able to install prepayment meters to get back debt they claim is owed to them, and without a household’s permission. More suppliers are expected to join this list.

Whilst the suppliers must follow stricter rules, (e.g. try to contact customers at least 10 times), Grangemouth CAB believe that the forced installation of these meters should be banned permanently as they often result in the most vulnerable being forced to live without an essential need.

The Citizens Advice Scotland online advice pages provide detailed energy guidance for customers, including the campaign headed “Worried this Winter?” at, which provides interactive self-help tools where people can see where they could boost their incomes or cut their costs, as well as details of their rights and responsibilities.

Grangemouth CAB would encourage anyone who is worried about their energy bills to contact their supplier as soon as possible. If customers are unhappy with their supplier’s response, they can then make a formal written complaint that can ultimately enable them to appeal to the Energy Ombudsman if necessary.

The staff and volunteers at Grangemouth CAB bureau will also continue to directly provide advice and support when people need it, full details are on our website at