Common Utility Billing Issues and the Ways to Handle Them

Joanna Clark Simpson | Updated: 20-01-2022 11:23 IST | Created: 20-01-2022 11:23 IST
Common Utility Billing Issues and the Ways to Handle Them
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of Americans had to switch to remote working. The shift led to higher utility bills since residencies of workers doubled as offices. Residential utility bill increases turned into a pressing issue facing people over the past year.

According to consumer reviews posted on reviews websites like, the billing price increase is among the most frequent complaints with the gas and electricity suppliers. Spending more time at home causes higher consumption of utility services. Still, a higher-than-expected bill hits many consumers by surprise. What are the most common types of billing issues? What to do if you have problems paying your utility bills? Find some practical guidance below.

If your bill has suddenly gone up, you should look into the following to clarify the reason:

Inaccurate meter readings

Unusual meter readings may give a bit of a clue that your metering device is faulty. If you take regular meter readings, and all household appliances work properly, it should be easy to notice discrepancies.

Provided the utility company hasn't put the rates up, the average consumption levels can't go up or down unexpectedly.

Truth be told, meter faults are rare. But, if you are unsure, you'd better have your meter tested. Energy suppliers are required to check faulty devices. Call your provider and ask for your meter to be tested. In case, the carried-out test shows that you were overcharged, you will be refunded for the period that your meter didn't operate as intended.

Estimated bills

Unfortunately, billing and payment issues with utility companies are not uncommon. Dozens of online reviews posted on platforms like Pissed Consumer, Twitter, and Reddit alert consumers' frustration with utility suppliers due to bills. The usual complaint is that estimated bills are higher than normal.

You should consider that if you fail to submit meter readings, your estimated bill will be calculated based on your average consumption last year. If an actual reading cannot be obtained, a utility company can only estimate the bill. To resolve the issue, you should contact the utility company, provide the reading or access to the meter upon their request.

Overlapping billing periods

Consumers may be charged for extra days if their billing periods overlap. To avoid such problems, you should carefully check the dates of the billing period. When you receive a new bill, just take your time to compare the dates of the previous bill. If you were double-billed, it's necessary to contact the utility supplier and ask for a refund.

Late payment charges

There may exist late fees on current bills not settled by the due date. Utility suppliers usually specify the due date and the mailing date on each bill. Mistakes can occur with online payments when submission can be completed a bit later than a payment release date. If it happens after midnight, the payment is considered as a late one, and the system charges the interest on overdue accounts.

To remove the fee, you will have to provide the supplier with the billing dates and the date of your payment. Even if the amount is not large, it should be credited back. If you just ignore it, there will be another charge that will accumulate interest on overdue payments.

Billing errors are frequent, and taking no notice of them may result in excess amounts paid. The sooner you catch up on the billing error, the sooner you can get it fixed.

Utility suppliers also offer assistance to consumers who need help with their utility bills. If you are behind on paying your bills, you may take the following options:

  • Arrange payments. Some companies allow consumers to cover debt over time provided that they pay a part of the overdue amount down.
  • Prepare payment plans. The option involves the possibility of paying the fixed amounts over the specified period of time. The plan is prepared based on the amount you can afford to pay on a monthly basis.
  • Reduce consumption. If your bills are very high, you'd better cut utilities. You may switch to energy-efficient light bulbs or replace old appliances. If you want to spend less on your utilities, you should use them more intelligently and efficiently.

(Devdiscourse's journalists were not involved in the production of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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