Top 7 Common Utility Bill Errors
It’s estimated that 80% of service and utility bills contain errors. These errors detract from your budget and cost you money, and you likely don’t realize it’s happening.
Here we’ve gathered the most common utility bill errors so you can be more informed when next month’s statements come in. Whether you deploy a company specializing in utility cost management services or do the work yourself, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes.
Error #1: Meter Reading Mistakes
Most meters are read once per month, though in rural areas, readings can be less frequent. Similarly, if meter readers cannot access your meter, whether you’ve got pets loose or shrubs covering your meters, readings may be less.
Ideally, you want readings done as often as possible to ensure accuracy. Even with monthly checks, your meter may be misreading your energy usage. This happened with CPS Energy, and thousands of customers were overbilled.
Check your next bill closely. If the meter readings seem inflated, contact your utility company. They should be able to rectify the mistake or even issue credit.
Error #2: Mis-Classification
There are three main classifications for customers: residential, commercial, and industrial. These classifications affect price, and when you throw in factors such as special zone pricing discounts, you may be overpaying.
This is notoriously complicated, so it’s a good idea to hire a professional who’s skilled at utility cost management services to evaluate your classification for you. This maximizes rebates while minimizing your bill and removes the headache of having to deal with it on your end.
Util Auditors is here to help you classify correctly.
Error #3: Late Fees
If you aren’t looking closely at the bill you’re paying on time, you may miss false late fee charges.
While the impact of late fees can be small, such as a mere 1%, they can also be far higher, such as 12% in some cases. This can bear a heavy impact on your bottom line over time, but it’s easily resolved with a quick audit.If you want to dispute these charges yourself, there’s a formal process. Here’s a sample letter from the FTC that can help you get started, which includes a link to information on disputing billing errors more generally.
Error #4: Mistakes in Invoice Calculation
There are many line items in a utility bill, including:
- Water Service Charge
- Water Usage – Industrial (or Residential, Commercial)
- Energy Charge
- Sewer Usage
- Utility Franchise Fee
It’s easy for one or more of these to be incorrectly added up, resulting in an inflated total on your bill. Adding these up manually each month to ensure accuracy can be tedious, so consider hiring it out.
Error #5: Duplicate Line-Item Charges
It’s not unheard of for utility companies to charge you the same expense twice on your bill. Carefully reviewing the itemized billing statement helps ensure you never double-pay.
Error #6: Gaps in Billing Dates
Whether it works in your favor and there’s a period for which you were not charged, or whether you’re being double-billed with an overlap in dates, you’ll want to make sure your billing dates are accurate.
It’s easy to miss this error because, for most of us, utility bills don’t neatly fall from the first to the last day of each month.
When there is an overlap in dates, issues with your energy usage reporting arise. These problems also impact:
- Benchmark charts displaying per day cost
- Creating a budget
- Accrual creation
Accuracy is critical for future decisions, so even if you’re under-charged, this is a problem you’ll want to correct. Hiring a company with expertise in utility cost management services can help.
Error #7: Misalignment of Rates
Your utility company stipulates what you pay for different charges on your bill. This rate varies depending on your classification, so it’s vital to ensure what you’re being charged for each item matches the agreed-upon rate.
Cross-checking your line-items ensures you aren’t overpaying for specific charges. It may also uncover charges that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Professional Utility Cost Management Services: What to Expect
Especially if you’re a large company, you don’t have the time to comb through your utility bill each month to ensure accuracy. For these reasons, consider hiring a professional auditor with experience in utility cost management services.
You should expect a process like the following:
- Consult. Ensure the company knows your exact needs and what areas of your business you want audited.
- Audit. Your company of choice should deploy technology and their expertise to comb invoices for errors, inefficiencies, or anomalies.
- Advise. Formal recommendations based on your audit should be provided.
- Deliver. Your company of choice should help you execute these changes, whether it be obtaining credits or refunds or filing the necessary paperwork.
Util Auditors is proud to offer these services comprehensively. That’s why so many Fortune 100 and 500 companies, including Walgreens, AMC Theaters, Enterprise, and Alamo, use Util Auditors.
Considering a shocking 80% of utility and service bills contain errors, it’s a smart idea to closely comb through your bills each month. This process is tedious, but it can help uncover misaligned rates, areas where you can apply for refunds, and more.
If you’re not up for the monthly challenge (we don’t blame you!), you can contract out this process to a company that provides utility cost management services, ensuring you’re not overspending on common utility bill errors.
ABOUT UTIL AUDITORS
Util Auditors specializes in utility bill auditing for businesses. We identify and correct utility and service contract billing errors. We have successfully reduced monthly costs and obtained substantial refunds from providers of electricity, gas, waste removal, telecommunications, shipping, merchant processing, and even worker’s compensation insurance nationwide.
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