Are your household bill accounts in credit? Could you be entitled to a rebate - and reduced monthly payments?

Reclaim credit accrued on your household bills

Reclaim credit accrued on your household bills - Credit: Archant

I’ve good news to report this week.

It comes in the shape of a financial windfall. And what’s more, it was from my energy company.

But, I have to tell you, this windfall was not offered up entirely willingly. I had to go in search of it. For that reason, my story of good fortune is also a cautionary tale for the rest of you, especially if you pay a set amount on monthly direct debit.

I think the energy companies call it a budget account. But in my case it had turned into a savings account I didn’t know I had. And I wasn’t earning any interest on it ? although, presumably, they were. Unbeknown to me, I had, in fact, been paying so much more every month than I actually needed to that I had accumulated £250 credit on my account.

And I found out only by chance when I dutifully submitted my monthly meter reading online. It’s a paperless account and generally I don’t bother to check whether it’s in credit or debit. I naively assumed I would be told if it went significantly into the red or (and I laughed at the very idea of this) into the black. So imagine my surprise when I checked out my latest bill. I phoned up the customer service department to make sure I was reading it correctly.

“Yes,” that’s right, said the smiley woman on the other end of the phone.

“Well, in that case,” I asked, “can I have my money back, please... and my direct debit reduced too?”

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She transferred me to another department so the transaction could be completed but by now I was wondering what else my energy company hadn’t told me about. Energy prices have dropped recently. Was, for instance, there a cheaper tariff I could switch to, even though my fixed price deal didn’t end until April?

There was. And what’s more, it would work out £20 cheaper a month than I had been paying. After a year of thrifty living I’m on my way to being a semi-savvy consumer, so I decided to check what was available from other providers before signing up to this new deal. And as it appeared to be better than anything else on the market I resolved to forgive my energy company for failing to give me back my money and offer me a cheaper deal unprompted.

The people in their customer service department couldn’t have been more jolly, too. And that counts for a lot. But from now on I’ll be keeping a closer eye on that savings, I mean budget, account.

Email or tweet using #ThriftyLiving

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