Developing billing standards


Consumer watchdog body energywatch has launched a campaign to set up a British Standard for energy billing. The standard will feature good practice for both the content of a bill, and the processes that should support the production of an accurate bill. It will cover such issues as estimated bills, use of customer-provided meter reads and the clarity of essential information.

Research from UK regulator Ofgem shows that customers are dissatisfied with the billing service provided by energy companies. Complaints relate to how bills are calculated, the difficulty of comparing pricing information, and irregular meter readings. Utility companies are being asked to co-operate with energywatch’s initiative to get the new standard in place as soon as possible.

This initiative is not without its detractors, who hold the view that Ofgem is using its resources to push for change on less important issues, and is adopting a more micro-interventionist antagonistic stance with suppliers, especially through energywatch. It is time, they say, for Ofgem to start implementing changes that will do some good for the energy industry, rather than endlessly criticising it.