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My business hasn't been charged for electricity - and hasn't received a bill

Electricity is a vital resource for the majority of small businesses, and if you’re not generating your own then you’ll naturally have to pay for the power you use.

However, there may be instances where you have never received a bill - or have not been sent any intimation from your supplier - which means you won’t be able to pay for the electricity you’ve consumed.

In such scenarios, there are certain rules that will apply to both you and your energy supplier, as they will inevitably look to recoup the money they missed out on by initially failing to charge you for your electricity. 

What is back billing?

Back billing is a term used by energy suppliers when they’re attempting to recover the costs they failed to collect from you. This involves them producing a bill for the period during which you were using energy without being charged – even if you’ve already been sent bills for the electricity you’ve used in the meantime.

Back billing may also arise in situations where your energy supplier sends you a bill to account for mistakes that have been made in calculating your bills in the past. For example, if the wrong unit rate was used to calculate your bills, your energy supplier could send you a bill for the difference between what you paid and what you should have paid.

Although it’s normal that businesses are required to pay what they owe, if they haven’t been billed for a long period of time then they could find themselves owing their supplier a substantial amount of money. In some cases, this could pose a threat to the financial stability of a business.

According to UK legislation, your energy supplier cannot claim payment owed for any back billing in excess of six years. The significant point here is that you can be back billed even if the miscalculation was due to mistake of the energy supplier.

At the time of agreeing a repayment amount, suppliers consider factors such as the age of the bill, length of the contract, and the payment history. There are a few business gas and business electricity suppliers who have limited their rights to claim payment under a back bill to as low as twelve months.

Responsibilities of consumers

To protect yourself from the nasty surprise of an expensive back bill, whenever you move into new premises ensure that you:

  • Register with a supplier immediately.
  • Check the number of meters that exist on your premises. Click here for more information on multi meters.
  • Make sure your gas and electricity supplier has accurate details regarding your business.
  • Read any communications sent to the address by energy suppliers. For help identifying relevant information on your bill, click here
  • Submit regular meter readings to your supplier.
  • If you think you’re paying the wrong amount, contact your supplier as soon as possible – they can help you understand your energy use and offer support.
  • Check with your supplier how frequently you should be billed. If you are not receiving bills as regularly as expect to for all your meters, ensure you inform them as soon as possible.
  • When you move out of a premises notify your energy supplier and give them meter readings. This will help to ensure that you are billed only for the energy you have used.

Other than this, it helps to be aware that energy suppliers have these responsibilities:

  • To conduct regular meter readings of their own.
  • Ensure customers are able to submit their own readings – your supplier will provide you with information on how you can submit your own meter readings, either online, by post or by phone.
  • Make information available on how to understand your bill and what to do in case of inaccurate bills.
  • Respond to meter readings provided by customers and take necessary steps to reflect the reading in your bill.

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