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Some small firms could face backdated energy bills

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More needs to be done to protect smaller businesses from the prospect of receiving energy bills backdated by as much as six years.

The call has come from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

Under the rules, energy providers can invoice businesses for undercharged energy consumption dating back six years. Domestic customers can only be sent bills backdated for one year.

The ACS wants the industry watchdog, Ofgem to amend the regulations so that small firms aren’t suddenly confronted with a large and unexpected invoice. The energy providers have the right to ask business customers to pay the outstanding amount at once.

Businesses should be treated in the same way as domestic consumers, the ACS argued, and backdated bills should be capped at one year.

The organisation also said that automatic rollover contracts should be stopped and that the system used by energy providers for dealing with small business complaints should be made more efficient.

In a quote to the Guardian, James Lowman of the ACS commented: “Energy companies are abusing their relationship with small businesses in a way that would never be allowed for the general public. These double standards need to stop.”

Ofgem has intimated that the problem of such large scale backdating of undercharged bills must be looked at by the energy companies.

A spokesman said: “We have concerns about the back-billing of small businesses and we have made it clear to suppliers that this needs to be addressed.”