Even to a trained eye, mistakes on domestic and commercial bills can be difficult to spot.
The numerous lines and charges that form part of the bill make it tricky to identify discrepancies in billing, especially when you’re handling a multi-site portfolio.
But behind these errors, there’s an opportunity to make back some money which energy managers should have firmly in their sights.
Have you been overcharged?
Accuracy of billing can have significant impacts on cash flow. If you plump for validating invoices, you can pinpoint supplier and industry overcharges.
Whilst the exercise may also highlight some undercharges from suppliers, these are not as common as the overcharges. It’s always better to know about a potential undercharge to allow you to accrue costs and avoid a surprise bill.
Whether you buy software to manage this in-house or outsource the service, invoice validation has a number of benefits.
So what are these?
- You only pay bills for sites that are your responsibility,
- You are not paying for bills that have already been paid,
- All the information on the bill is consistent with the contracts and tariffs agreed including correct pass through charges,
- Reconciliation of annual charges such as Feed in Tariff, Renewable Obligation and TNuos takes place,
- Meter reading errors are corrected.
It’s important to note that whether managing this in-house or externally, comprehensive data on utility suppliers, agreed tariffs and good records of billing will be required.
Recovering overcharges can be time consuming and an administrative burden, so it’s a good idea to find a specialist provider who has established contacts in the industry or to have enough resource available in your own business.
How much can you claw back from wrong bills?
Overcharges in the region of 3-5% of your total energy bill can be recovered (depending on how bad your supplier billing is and how good your portfolio management is).
Invoice validation companies often work on a shared saving model, meaning it costs you nothing until you’ve received a credit or refund from your supplier.
Remember suppliers can bill you within six years of an undercharge error, but similarly you can recover refunds for overcharges over the same time frame! So there are retrospective and ongoing savings up for grabs.
If you’ve not already done so I’d highly recommend you explore this opportunity to reduce your energy bill and recover what’s owed to you or your company. It’s your money, after all.
Jaz Rabadia is Energy Manager at Debenhams and a STEM Ambassador.