07 August 2003
Small businesses must be more vigilant when checking their energy bills, a utilities watchdog has warned.
Energywatch, which monitors energy supply problems among consumers and small businesses, said suppliers have issued wrong bills to 5 million customers.
As a result, more than 10,000 business customers have complained to the watchdog this year, a tenfold increase on 2002.
Energywatch blamed the rising problems on the increased outsourcing of meter readings, which it claims are irregular and less frequent.
It urged all customers to have their energy suppliers carry out meter readings at least twice a year and to negotiate payment terms if suppliers have made mistakes on bills or issued them late.
"Small firms face the same problems as consumers but have less protection in their contracts, despite greater consumption," an Energywatch spokesman said.