I can no longer pay my utility bill on a quarterly basis and by check. Does a provider accept this now?

I believe my energy supplier has overcharged for usage this month and is now chasing payment – even though I ask for the amount.

I usually pay quarterly, by check, but it seems like this is getting harder and harder.

I also want the power company to do its job and come by to read my meter, rather than expecting it. This used to be standard practice, it worked fine and was convenient for me.

Do energy companies still allow customers to pay quarterly and by check or is this too much to ask?

Consumers complain that they can no longer pay their energy quarterly by check

Grace Gausden, This is money, replies: This is a recurring complaint from This is Money readers with many energy customers frustrated that they can no longer pay quarterly or by check.

Many, like you, want to do this to check that they are paying the correct amount in their accounts and not overpaying unnecessarily.

Others have said they don’t like the fact that energy companies can automatically withdraw money from their bank account.

While some may consider this old-fashioned, there are some people who get frustrated with their lack of options, with some vendors insisting on getting monthly payments online.

Another major concern is those who do not want to install a smart meter, a device that automatically informs suppliers about a household’s consumption.

Reasons not to want them include first-generation meters, which make it difficult to switch suppliers, and others who simply think it won’t save them money.

This is Money has contacted several major energy suppliers to find out if they offer quarterly check payments and if not, why not.

We also asked whether the suppliers are still reading meters for their customers.

Some customers want their supplier to read their gas meter instead of doing it themselves

Some customers want their supplier to read their gas meter instead of doing it themselves

Octopus energy

Pay with check? Yes

Can pay quarterly? Yes

The supplier said that while direct debit and meter self-reading keeps costs down and prices low, customers can pay quarterly, and by check if they wish.

Where customers cannot read meters themselves, or where they choose not to send meter readings for a longer period of time, it does provide meter readers.

british gas

Pay with check? Yes

Can pay quarterly? Yes

Customers can pay quarterly and by check if they prefer and it still sends meter readers around.

For someone who has a normal credit meter (non-smart) he sends someone every six months.

eon

Pay with check? Yes

Can pay quarterly? new

Customers can pay monthly by check, but not quarterly. However, there is the option to pay quarterly via variable direct debit. Eon did not explain why this is the case.

This one

Pay with check? Yes

Can pay quarterly? Yes

Ovo Energy supports both monthly and quarterly billing and payment and accepts payments via direct debit, card payments, checks and BACS.

With regard to meter readings, Ovo said it still sends routine meter readers to homes every six to 12 months, but more frequent readings are available through the Priority Services Register for anyone who has trouble reading their meter.

Depending on which provider customers are with, depends on how they can pay their bills

Depending on which provider customers are with, depends on how they can pay their bills

Lamp

Pay with check? Yes

Can pay quarterly? Unclear

The challenger supplier encourages members to pay monthly by direct debit or, if they have a top-up meter, by top-up, which he says helps keep prices low for everyone.

However, it also allows consumers to pay through any post office that offers the MoneyGram service, check, bank transfer, standing order, or over the phone.

It also offers flexible payments where members can request to make weekly payments instead of paying monthly.

For members with prepayment meters, it offers different top-up options based on the type of gas or electricity meter they have, including online, through our app or in a store.

It added that it will send engineers to visit a home to take a meter reading, install a meter or repair one if it is faulty.

It can also organize regular meter readings to be taken by a trained mechanic for members who are elderly, disabled, chronically ill or otherwise need an extra hand.

Scottish power

Pay with check? Yes

Can pay quarterly? Yes

The supplier said customers can still pay quarterly and they can still pay by check.

It added that if someone is an online customer, it will read their meter annually.

If billed quarterly, it reads the meter every three months. Meanwhile, if customers have a smart meter, it will not call to read the meter when it receives readings from the device.

EDF

Pay with check? Yes

Can pay quarterly? Yes (once logged in as a customer)

The company said customers can still pay for their energy quarterly. While this option isn’t available to people when they first sign up with EDF, households can request to switch to quarterly billing once they become customers.

It added that all customers who have not set up a direct debit will be able to pay by check.

With regard to meter readings, it said it encourages all customers to submit their own meter readings to keep their account up to date.

However, if a customer cannot access their meter or is unable to provide a meter reading, they will send a meter reader to their property.

Grace Gausden adds: It seems that most utility companies are fairly flexible when it comes to paying quarterly and by check, but it’s likely that the staff will be happy to charge you monthly and by direct debit, so keep that in mind and stick to your lesson how do you want.

You didn’t say in your email to me that you were refused to pay by check or quarterly, just that the company in question is now getting a little more clumsy about you doing that – presumably a move to try and debit you .

Given the comments above, the vast majority accept quarterly check payments – so if you find yourself having difficulty or being penalized with this, please contact: editor@thisismoney.co.uk

Tom Lyon, Energy Director at Comparison Tech, adds: Historically, all energy companies allowed you to choose how you wanted to pay your bill, whether it was quarterly or monthly, and whether you want to pay by check, direct debit, or other payment method.

However, as the number of energy suppliers grew and the way those companies operated, we have increasingly seen providers change their accepted payment method to direct debit or prepaid, and to a monthly or pay as you go service.

This is largely intended to help them work in a more streamlined way, but with the added benefit of lower costs and lower bills for their customers.

Customers who prefer to pay their bills quarterly or by check have seen their options diminish as they don’t have access to the entire market, and inevitably pay more for the service.

If a customer wants to continue paying by check or quarterly, he will have to use one of the energy companies that allow him to do so, as energy suppliers are not obliged to offer all payment services to their customers.

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