E.on takes 1.5 million payments early in Christmas billing blunder
Energy giant E.on has apologised after taking around 1.5 million customers' direct debits up to two weeks early, leaving many without cash in their accounts just before Christmas. E.on says it'll be processing refunds automatically, but these won't hit accounts until 29 December 2020. If you've incurred extra charges, you CAN get reimbursed, but you'll have to ask for it.
MoneySavingExpert.com has seen dozens of complaints from customers affected by the bungled direct debits, which have seen customers pay twice in one month, with many furious it has happened when finances are already stretched due to Christmas.
E.on blamed it on an IT issue, and affected customers were due to have their payment taken in the next two weeks.
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'You have ruined our Christmas'
We've seen loads of complaints from upset users on social media:
Who is affected?
E.on says about 1.5 million customers are affected, and it is emailing all those affected "as a matter of urgency". It impacts customers whose direct debits were due in the next two weeks.
If you haven't heard from E.on and are worried you may be affected, the easiest way to be sure is to simply check the bank account which has your direct debit set up, and see if money has been taken today unexpectedly.
You'll be refunded automatically – but not until after Christmas
If you've had payment taken unexpectedly and don't need the money back straightaway, then you don't need to do anything.
- E.on will refund the direct debit automatically – but you'll have to wait. E.on says it is processing refunds but it won't arrive in your account until 29 December 2020, due to the Christmas break. It says the next payments will be taken on the usual date.
- For a faster direct debit refund, try going to your bank. You can demand a refund under the Direct Debit Guarantee, which states: "If an error is made in the payment of your direct debit, by the organisation or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society."
To do this, simply call your bank and explain what's happened. The money is usually refunded to you as soon as your bank has completed any fraud checks, but things may be a little different right now. With banks closing early for Christmas, getting in touch with them might prove tricky. And while we've seen reports on social media from customers from some banks – including Santander, Lloyds and Barclays – who say they have had success with reversing the charges already, we've also heard that some banks are turning people down because E.on has said it'll be refunding people itself.
- You can get bank charges refunded – but you'll need to ask. E.on says it will refund you if you've incurred bank charges due to the blunder. You'll need to contact E.on to explain what's happened. We're waiting on clarification about exactly how this will work, but on Twitter the firm has been asking customers to send proof of charges in a direct message to @Eonhelp along with their E.on account number and date of birth. Alternatively you can try calling, but we are hearing reports of long wait times for calls to E.on at the moment.
Either way, make sure you keep any paperwork or statements showing charges, such as overdraft fees. And keep checking, in case you're hit with charges at a later date.
What does E.on say?
An E.on spokesperson said: "Due to an IT issue, we have inadvertently taken direct debit payments early from some of our customers. We are sorry for this error and are taking steps to contact affected customers where we can, as well as putting information about the issue on our website and social media channels.
"Customers do not need to do anything or contact us, and we ask that they bear with us while we work to refund them on the first available date, which is 29 December. Customers' direct debit payments will then be taken in line with their usual payment schedule.
"If a customer has incurred bank charges as a result of this issue, we will of course reimburse this money to them. Any customer who is concerned should contact us to discuss their circumstances."
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