Utility Point owes me £200 but just won’t give it back

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I closed my gas and electricity account with Utility Point at the end of October and, according to it, I was in credit by more than £200. Since then, I have been trying to get this money back, to no effect. In response to my numerous emails, it has admitted three times it owes the money but still won’t actually send it. If it were the other way round, I suspect that my debt would already have been passed over to debt collectors who would be banging on my door.

CM, London

Next to the high volume of airline and holiday complaints, we are receiving a worryingly large number about energy companies, some of which appear to be struggling to keep customer services functioning.

Utility Point is attracting far too many emails like this. Lots of readers have complained that they have been waiting months for sums – some in excess of £500, and, in one case, £950 – and that the company is ignoring their demands. Others report that it has continued taking direct debit payments after switching to another supplier.

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I asked Utility Point about your case, and it apologised and said it had processed the refund. However, it offered no explanation as to why you had been waiting so long.

Generally, if a firm takes a payment in error, use the direct debit guarantee to ask the bank to reverse it immediately. Equally, if the company is refusing to refund in a timely manner, there is nothing to stop you from taking legal action via Money Claim Online.

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Of course, the secret is not to let such balances build up in the first place by making sure payments properly reflect your usage. If I had built up a £500 credit and the energy firm refused to refund or was all but uncontactable, I’d simply cancel the direct debit and only restore it when the credit figure was at a more reasonable level.

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