Half of Irish consumers can’t figure out charges for essential utilities

Complicated, jargon-heavy bills leave one third of consumers unable to spot mistakes in essential bills.

Alice Goodwin
by Alice Goodwin on 24th May, 2016

Research carried out by Switcher.ie has shown that Irish consumers are being bamboozled by over-complicated bills with many feeling they have no choice but to rely on suppliers getting their bills right.

The survey, which looked at a variety of household bills, found that half of people find it difficult to check their electricity and broadband bills, while 56% struggle to check their gas bills.

Complicated bills

Half of those surveyed claim household charges are difficult to comprehend. Principal complaints include being too complicated (29%), too much jargon is used (30%) and difficult to find information (24%).

Unlikely to spot a mistake

35% of Irish customers state they cannot work out if there has been a mistake on their bills, with only 52% of consumers saying they are likely to spot an error. According to the study a staggering half of Irish customers do not check their bills, they simply trust their supplier to get their bills right. By not checking what they are being charged, or dealing with energy estimates and direct debits, consumer could be overspending massively when they simply don’t need to.

Paying for mistakes

The research also revealed that one in four (26%) consumers claim to have been overcharged on at least one household bill last year. For those who claimed to have been overcharged, the average amount was €54 for electricity, €36 for broadband, and €30 for mobile phone.  

‘Don’t be afraid to ask your supplier’

Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher, issued some advice to customers who are struggling with understanding their bills; “Our advice to consumers is to check all household bills thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask a supplier if you find something you don’t understand.

“By getting a handle on the information in your bills, you will be in a stronger position to take control of your usage and spend across all of the household essentials. This will help to ensure not only that your bills are correct, but that you are getting value for money too.

“Direct debit is now the most common method of payment, with 60% of people using this method most often to pay their utility bills. Direct debit is a convenient way to pay and can often attract discounts on bills. However, with payments being taken from your account automatically it makes it even more important that consumers are able to check and understand their bills. If you don’t check your bills regularly, you could miss important information like whether the bill is based on an estimated meter reading, if the account is in credit, whether an introductory discount has ended or a cheaper tariff is available.”

Understand your bills:  Learn more about household bills