Irish consumers potentially overcharged by millions of euro

Switcher.ie say less than half of energy consumers even check their bill

Irish consumers potentially overcharged by millions of euro

A hand holds 50 euro banknotes in Leipzig, Germany | Image: Jan Woitas/DPA/PA Images

A price comparison website says Irish customers were potentially overcharged by millions of euro on household essentials last year.

Switcher.ie says 30% of consumers surveyed claim to have been overcharged for at least one energy, TV, phone, broadband and/or bin bill in the last 12 months.

It says the average amount overcharged on these essential bills was €53, and refunds took more than five weeks on average.

Home phone customers had to wait an even longer 6.5 weeks to get their money back.

It also found that over half of Irish energy (57%) and broadband (53%) customers simply trust their suppliers to get their bills right.

Consumers say energy bills are the most complex - with one in four saying they find these hard to understand.

Less than half of energy consumers (49%) say they even check to see if their bill is correct, with 38% just looking at the total amount due.

Only 14% use their energy bills to compare deals and switch.

Source: Switcher.ie

Research was carried out for Switcher.ie by Coyne Research, involving 1,000 online interviews with a representative sample of the population.

Eoin Clarke is managing director of Switcher.ie. He told Newstalk Breakfast consumers need to take control.

"You've got to check your bill - open you bill as soon as it comes in, check that your account details are correct, check that you're on the unit rate you're supposed to be on or the correct tariff that you're on.

"But most importantly we'd encourage consumers to take control of their bills: if you don't know what you;re paying for a service right now, you're less likely to switch to a better deal".

"And there is hundreds of euros to be saved by switching gas and electricity, for example".

He says an energy user can typically save about €402 a year.