Energy warning as firms 'invent electricity meter readings' and 'adjust' direct debits

TalkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer complained over her wildly increased direct debit payments. The presenter accused EDF of ‘inventing’ electricity meter readings that don’t match the actual readings. In a post on Twitter, Ms Hartley-Brewer uploaded a screenshot showing her electricity payments for the past four months.

The bills fiercely rise from £178 in February to £1,054 in March and continue as such through April.

Ms Hartley-Brewer said in frustration: “When your energy supplier decides to invent an electricity meter reading for your home one day, then ‘adjusts’ your direct debit payments to SIX TIMES the previous month and, two months later, you’re still giving meter readings to try to convince them they’re wrong. That.”

It comes as an investigation is launched by the energy watchdog Ofgem regarding claims that firms are ripping off customers through direct debits, in order to ease cashflow problems.

Firms are facing an increase in oil and gas prices and passing on the costs to consumers.

Since the energy price cap rose by 54 percent from April 1, customers have seen unprecedented increases in their energy bills.

Energy experts have encouraged customers to take and submit meter readings in order to prevent unexplainable direct debit increases.

But the Chief Executive of Ofgem, Jonathan Brearley, recently stated that “bad practices” are being noticed, with households facing “massive increases” in their energy bills.

Mr Brearley spoke of concerns that “some suppliers may have been increasing direct debit payments by more than is necessary”.

He said that suppliers “have been using these balances to prop up their finances”.

The Ofgem head also pointed out other “bad practices” by suppliers, such as “directing customers to tariffs that may not be in their best interest”.

And added: “We have also seen troubling stories about the way some vulnerable customers are being treated when they fall into difficulties.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed the initiation of compliance reviews by Ofgem on Tuesday.

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