3 Ways You Could be Getting Overcharged on Utility Bills

Posted on March 31, 2014
Posted By: Sarah Battaglia

There are over 150 cost components to every utility bill, which means there are 150 opportunities for an error to pop-up on your statement.  If you have ever had the feeling that your business was being overcharged, or you've found a figure that just doesn't look right, you might be correct.  It's not always safe to assume that the utility gets it right every time, because believe it or not, accidental overcharges happen more often that you'd think.


1. The owner of a small RV park in 
Tallahassee, Florida discovered that he was being overcharged for utilities for several years.  His business qualified for a sales tax exemption but the city failed to notify him of this.  Only certain businesses qualify for a tax exemption, but the city felt that it was the responsibility of the business owner to find out.  It's a good thing this owner looked into it because he ended up getting a rebate of approximately $5,600.

2. In 2012, roughly 100,000 electricity customers in Austin, Texas experienced problems with their bills due to a malfunction in the bill collecting system.  Some customers did not receive a bill for several months, some customers got charged multiple times, and others were notified that their payment got rejected even though it, indeed, went through.  In some situations, companies that owed $3,000 received a bill for $30,000 or even $300,000!

3. Another example occurred at a residential home in Richmond, Virginia this past year.  The monthly water bill for her family of three was averaging $400 a month, enough to supply about 24,000 gallons of water.  As a comparison, the average family of three typically only uses about 6,000 gallons per month.  She knew something wasn't right so she called City Hall several times to try and get to the bottom of this.  It turns out that her meter was not reading the usage properly and the city owed her over $1,000 for the overcharges.

There are quite a few ways that could lead to errors on your utility bill and it could be difficult for the average customer to spot them all.  Your electricity, natural gas, water, and even your telephone bill could include mistakes.  If you are uncomfortable looking at every little detail on your bill, or you just think something is off, consider working with an energy consultant that offers a bill auditing service.  Be wary though, a trustworthy agency will charge a fee only after they find an error and obtain a refund for you.

Authored By:
Sarah Battaglia has been one of the in-house Copywriters and the Social Media Manager for NRG Business since 2011. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Sarah holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management and Marketing from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Out of the office, she has a passion for baking delectable desserts, cooking for her family, and riding her bike. Sarah can be found on


April, 14 2014

Fred Linn says

-------------" It's not always safe to assume that the utility gets it right every time, because believe it or not, accidental overcharges happen more often that you'd think."----------------

In my experience, errors are FAR more often in the utilities favor than the consumer.

I think a lot of the push to install "smart" meters and apply complex calculations to bills is to push consumers into the position of being unable to look at a bill and go "Way a minute, this is not right;" Utilities do not want customers to just go out and check their meter and be able to figure out their bill with a pencil in less than a minute.

Whenever "smart meters" are mentioned----consumers should stop and think----do you REALLY want to be billed like the phone companies with all their "minutes and friends" plans?

I think it is all designed to be as complex and obscure as possible. Do you REALLY think the phone company or the utilities WANT you to discover that they owe you money? I think not.

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