Despite best efforts by utility providers, 25% of people report to be receiving more than 10 incorrect utility bills when moving home. This is causing a knock-on effect in the industry as one in five customers would consider leaving their utility provider if they were billed incorrectly, and more than one in 10 people have already pulled the trigger and left their supplier due to being chased for an incorrect bill or debt that didn’t belong to them.
The matter of misplaced debt is often out of the hands of utility providers, as almost one in five people don’t update their supplier at all when they move home, either because they don’t know how to, or they wrongly think the council, or their supplier does it for them. Of those that do know how to inform their supplier of their new details or have tried to notify their supplier of an incorrect bill arriving at their address, 20% said they would rather switch provider than try to fix the issue with their existing one.
The study, conducted by credit reference agency, Equifax, found that 27% of customers making the switch felt that suppliers who chased for or sent incorrect bills, were incompetent with their data, while 17% were ignored when they tried to inform their supplier of an issue with their bill.
The issue of misplaced debt and incorrect occupant identification, fueled by a growing generation of renters and frequent movers, is continuing to grow. To support utility companies, Equifax has partnered with Sagacity to offer Occupier ID. With the help of Equifax data, Occupier ID improves data quality and converts unknown and void properties into genuine customers. This in turn improves billing accuracy, reduces returned mail and eliminates the need for mail addressed to ‘The Occupier.’
Incorrect occupant data is causing utility providers to lose out on customers, and potential revenue, but also has an impact on customers – 30% of occupants admit to feeling stressed due to being wrongly chased for a utility bill. In January 2023 alone, over 270,000 people moved home, and a further 308,000 planned to, meaning there could be over half a million incorrect bills sent by utility companies this year.
Craig Tebbutt, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, at Equifax UK said“We can see from our research that the issue of misplaced debt is not only causing financial issues for suppliers but also an undue amount of stress for customers. Occupier identification is a very real issue when it comes to misplaced debt and potentially damaged credit. It is for this reason that Equifax are proud to partner with Sagacity to offer businesses the benefit of Occupier ID.”
Anita Dougall, CEO, at Sagacity Solutions said “Our partnership with Equifax is designed to fill the data void by accurately converting unknown customers in properties into genuine customers to improve billing accuracy, reduce returned or missed bills, increase collection rates, mitigate damaged credit, and improve the customer experience. This helps the provider reach the right people and ensure that occupants aren’t troubled for bills or debts that don’t belong to them. Importantly it helps manage costs in the industry and saves money for all customers.”