Utility Bill Arrears
In these tough economic times, everyone is finding it increasingly difficult to keep on top of those monthly outgoings, and with utility bills making up an ever-increasing proportion of the average family’s monthly spend, it’s easy to see how many people can fall into arrears on their payments for gas, electricity, water, and other utilities.
What to do if you get into arrears
If you get into arrears with any of your utility bills, the one thing you mustn’t do is ‘bury your head in the sand’ and hope the problem will go away.
Whilst it is true that you won’t necessarily have any of these services cut off after a few missed or late payments, if the arrears build up, there could be serious consequences for you.
Here’s a general guide to what you should do…
- Contact your utility company: The first thing to do if you fall into arrears is to contact your utility company to discuss the problems you’re having in making payments to them. This will show them that you know about the arrears and you’re keen to find a way to resolve the problem. All utility companies have strict policies in place which govern the way they deal with customers in arrears, and they should always be prepared to work with you to find a realistic solution.
- Check your bills: If your utility provider is basing your bills on ‘estimated’ usage amounts, this may not tally with the actual amount you are using, so you may be overpaying. Whilst any overpayment will always be set against future bills (so you don’t actually lose it), it really doesn’t make sense to be receiving over-estimated bills if you’re getting into arrears.
- Check your fixed payment amounts: If you pay a fixed amount every month (by direct debit or some other method), have a look to see if this amount is roughly right to cover the cost of your average usage. Your utility company should regularly review and amend these fixed monthly payment amounts to make sure you’re not building up unnecessary credit with them, but it is always worth having a look yourself too.
- Review your finances: You might find it useful to work out all your income and outgoings to see where your money is going – this could help you to find areas where you can easily reduce your outgoings. And it may also be useful to share this information with your utility company, to demonstrate that there are genuine reasons why you are having trouble keeping up with your payments to them.
For more information about how to deal with utility bills arrears, click on the below links:
- Find out more about gas arrears
- Find out more about electricity arrears
- Find out more about water arrears
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