5 typical energy scam red flags you should watch out for

Making sure you get the best deal on utilities does not have to be a complex procedure, although in today’s market there are a lot of ways in which you can end up paying more than you should be. Today’s article will cover a few common traps consumers fall into when it comes to business energy:

#1 Threat of Power Cut Off

Just starting out at a new premise is a prime time for paying more than you should be on utilities or being rushed into a new contract. Some suppliers may advise that you must sign a new contract immediately to avoid being having power cut off – this is not accurate. As a new customer at a new premise you will be placed on the out of contract rates of whatever supplier is already supplying the site. This means you are in a 30 day-rolling contractual situation and you can give that 30 days’ notice at any time (compare our article on deemed rates and rollover contracts). While I would advise tying up a new contract to secure better rates as “deemed rates” do tend to by high, you should not worry about losing service to premises.

#2 Sudden Large Billing

You’ve been going along paying your monthly or quarterly bills on time and to a schedule every month when you receive an email or call from an unknown source advising you that you have racked up large extra charges that need to be paid, in full, at the time. Normally large back billings are the result of erroneous readings and suppliers can be amenable to payment plans when the amount is large. Dealing with this can be as simple as asking the supplier a couple of security questions regarding your account to ensure it is them.

#3 Unexpected Inspection

Be cautious if you have an unsolicited visit on site by anyone claiming to have been sent in from an official body to carry out safety checks. In such a scenario, the visit should have been organised and arranged in advance and does not happen unannounced. Stick to the same rules as you would for a home and do not allow unwanted guests to poke around the premises, and deny them access to sensitive information.

#4 Verbal Agreement

A supplier may get in contact to announce that a verbal contract has already been struck and you need to complete paperwork to complete the deal. This can lead the customer into the belief that they are already further down the sales path than they are and they should commit to the rates and the package anyway. Normally a verbal contract requires the explanation that the call is being recorded and requires the full set of Terms and Conditions to be formalised – a simple discussion regarding the price does not constitute a binding agreement.

#5 Anti-Competitive Practices

Suppliers may make the process of leaving their service so drawn-out and so complex that a customer feels they must stay with the same supplier – even if the rates have shot up and are not competitive to the competition. This includes having several layers of customer service teams to move around and several official confirmations before any transfer is being accepted. The customer is worn down until they eventually tire and stick with the same supplier. This does not need to be the case if you plan out in advance of the contract and take the right steps to ensure you are able to terminate the service come the end of contract. A utilities management company like eyebright will keep an eye on your contract end dates and will ensure that you have the right timing.

If you have come across any of these “red flags” yourself, or would like to make sure that your contracts are managed professionally, please contact us!

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