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How To Claim Back Overpayments on Utility Bills

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 18 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Payments Overcharged Payment Energy

It seems to be in the news every week – utility bills keep rising, and anyone opening the envelopes from utility companies has certainly noticed that it’s true. We’re all having to shell out a lot more for the energy we use for heating and cooking.

But it can seem like adding insult to injury when we’re overcharged on the payments for our utilities. Having to reclaim that overcharged amount can seem like a tortuous process, but it’s a very worthwhile one. After all, it’s your money that the utility companies are holding, and you have every right to have it returned.

But, in addition to reclaiming those overpayments, it’s worth taking steps to ensure they don’t happen in the first place.

How To Avoid Overpayments

In some cases, with electricity, gas and water, companies often use estimates when they send out their utility bills, and those can result in your being overcharged if you’ve been frugal in your usage.

You can request exact readings for your utility bills, or even call the energy companies yourself and give the exact readings (which is what you would do if you were moving from a property, for instance). Doing this regularly will make sure you’re not overcharged.

In the case of water companies, you can ask to have a water meter fitted. This will ensure you’re only charged for the exact amount of water you use, which, for many people, has resulted in a strong reduction in their water bill.

The meter is free and the water company will fit it (there are, however, some instances where they’re unable to do so because of the physical location on the pipes).

How Overpayments On Utility Bills Occur

Utility bill overpayments can only occur when estimates, rather than exact readings, happen, and those tend to be on energy use, namely gas and electricity. Your usage of those will vary during the year, so if you use a system of spread payments through direct debit, then at some point during the year you’ll almost certainly go into credit. In theory, then, by making your payments you’ve been overcharged, and can reclaim that money.

However, it’s a swings and roundabouts situation, as you’ll only have to pay it when the weather turns colder and your energy consumption rises (often along with energy prices). At that time, for a month or two, you might well be in debt to the utility company, but they don’t demand payment in full (unless you’re moving, of course, and settling a final bill).

When To Pursue Repayments On Your Utility Bills

There are, however, times when you should seek to have overcharged payments refunded to you. When you’ve been obviously overcharged, for example, then you do need to contact the company that issued the utility bill.

If you’re in credit when it’s time to move, after your final reading, then you should request that the company send you a cheque for the amount you’ve been overcharged.

When requesting a refund of the overcharged amount, the company will probably request a current reading from your electric and gas meters, then deduct that amount from the payments they send you, meaning you’re back at zero with each other.

It will be rare that you’ll have to fight for the return of your money, although in can happen in the case of direct debit payments. If you do want the overcharged amount back, press a little and you’ll find that it will be sent to you quickly.

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[Add a Comment]
Teddy - Your Question:
Hi,I was renting an flat with 2 of my friends and I was told there was money outstanding on our water bill so I made a payment. I just checked online to see what the remaining balance is and my payment is there as a credit. Is there any way I can get that money back? We haven't lived there for 5 months

Our Response:
You would have to contact the water company directly to see what its process is to refund the money.
UnclaimedFinances - 18-Jul-17 @ 2:07 PM
Hi, I was renting an flat with 2 of my friends and I was told there was money outstanding on our water bill so I made a payment. I just checked online to see what the remaining balance is and my payment is there as a credit. Is there any way I can get that money back? We haven't lived there for 5 months
Teddy - 18-Jul-17 @ 9:43 AM
Hi how do I claim back overpayments on my pre pay gas meters??
Bre - 3-May-17 @ 5:33 PM
Water company has estimated bill twice and have been paying nearly £100 per month for over 6 months. Now I've given them actual reading from meter gone down to £35 per month Can I get that money back ?
hoh - 14-Apr-17 @ 9:04 AM
Hi my water has been getting taken out of my benefits for a year they are taken 80 pound a month but it should of been 40 ,now I am over 400 pound in credit ,I have suffered for a year trying to get through will I be able to get a refund
Rosh - 27-Aug-16 @ 6:33 PM
beetle - Your Question:
Hi there, I owned a property with my ex. I had to evict him from the property in order to sell the property. The water bill is in his name, and I have not been able to change this even though I have made the payments for the last 18 months. Now that the property is sold there is a refund due. How can I get this paid to me rather than him?Any suggestions would be gratefully received.Sue

Our Response:
You would have to contact your local Water Authority directly to have this question answered. If you have paid by direct debit or standing order, a refund will usually go into the account the money was taken from.
UnclaimedFinances - 6-May-16 @ 10:36 AM
Hi there, I owned a property with my ex.I had to evict him from the property in order to sell the property.The water bill is in his name, and I have not been able to change this even though I have made the payments for the last 18 months.Now that the property is sold there is a refund due.How can I get this paid to me rather than him? Any suggestions would be gratefully received. Sue
beetle - 5-May-16 @ 12:52 PM
Sophia - Your Question:
Me and my mum pay around 40 a month for water we barely use any and are so careful with our usage but ours seems to be so much higher than the average. We are with southern water do you think there's much chance of a rebate if we find out we should be paying less?

Our Response:
You don't say whether you have a meter, or not. If not, it may be worth you investigating whether a meter would be a less expensive option. Otherwise, you would have to contact the water board directly.
UnclaimedFinances - 24-Mar-16 @ 3:09 PM
Me and my mum pay around 40 a month for water we barely use any and are so careful with our usage but ours seems to be so much higher than the average. We are with southern water do you think there's much chance of a rebate if we find out we should be paying less?
Sophia - 24-Mar-16 @ 7:48 AM
Gillybean - Your Question:
Can I claim back overpayments on my water bill have been paying £56 a month for over 2 yrs and it should only have been £15 as I live alone and cannot have a water meter fitted thank you

Our Response:
I can only suggest you get on to your water supplier's customer services department directly as they will be able to advise further.
UnclaimedFinances - 8-Jan-16 @ 10:01 AM
Can I claim back overpayments on my water bill have been paying £56 a month for over 2 yrs and it should only have been £15 as I live alone and cannot have a water meter fitted thank you
Gillybean - 7-Jan-16 @ 8:58 AM
I over paid my propane company.I purchased enough gas to last me three years.They will not refund my over payment, rather will keep credit on books for three years.Is this legal in the state of New Mexico?
dotti - 12-Aug-15 @ 2:18 PM
@Satt - you would probably have to contact British Gas directly through its complaints department via the link here. I hope this helps.
UnclaimedFinances - 26-Feb-15 @ 11:31 AM
I was with British gas until last year I moved on to another supplier and I have saved almost £1500 , is there any Way i can find out if I was over charged ?
Satt - 24-Feb-15 @ 11:17 AM
@monty - As specified in the article when you’ve been obviously overcharged, then you need to contact the company that issued the utility bill and ask for a refund. I hope this helps.
UnclaimedFinances - 2-Feb-15 @ 2:10 PM
can I claim back my overpayment of my water bill
monty - 31-Jan-15 @ 12:30 PM
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