How we manage back billing and work to protect micro businesses from unexpected bills
Back billing is when a bill is created to cover the amount owed by a customer who has been undercharged by a supplier.
While this is common practice in energy and many other industries, it can cause particular problems for micro businesses.
We recognise this and have put in measures to help support our micro business customers, who number nearly 500,000.
We limit how far back we charge for business gas and electricity to help protect you from large and unexpected bills. We’ll also contact you in advance if we intend to charge you for energy you've used in the past.
The voluntary standards limit back bills to three years for electricity and to four-to-five years for gas. But we offer more generous terms, and since 31st December 2014 our back billing limit has been just one year.
In 2011, we became the first non-domestic supplier to announce a voluntary micro business back billing limit. The following year, we became founding signatories to the Energy UK voluntary standards on micro business back billing.
We’ve also introduced a Fair Billing Charter for micro business customers to help make sure those customers only pay for the energy used and that they're not hit by back bills caused by mistakes made by suppliers or the industry.
* Back billing limits apply after you (our customer) have done all that you can to avoid back billing and where we or industry processes are at fault.
To reduce problems caused by back billing, we’re investing over £30m in our systems and processes. Expected benefits from this include:
We’re also continuing the roll out of smart meters and have already installed over 400,000 of them. These meters improve billing accuracy and will lead to a considerable reduction in back billing.
If you have to deal with a back bill, we offer payment plans up to the length of the original back bill to help spread the cost and lessen the impact. If you’re struggling to pay, there are a number of third parties who are able to offer advice and support.
Business Debtline is an established charity that provides free, impartial and confidential debt advice to small businesses.
Citizens Advice Consumer Service (CACS) offers free, impartial and independent advice on energy issues.
If you have a complaint about a gas or electricity company the energy ombudsman may be able to help.