I'm a money expert – the four most common billing errors that could be costing you over £3,300 | The Sun

I'm a money expert – the four most common billing errors that could be costing you over £3,300 | The Sun

11/01/2022

IT pays to keep track of your bills, as you can avoid common billing errors that you could be paying a small fortune for.

From overpaying your council tax to forgetting to cancel a subscription, you could be paying thousands of pounds unnecessarily.

A couple of quick fixes will stop you from losing the cash, Hargreaves Lansdown senior personal finance analyst Sarah Coles said.

Follow her tips and you could save a total of £3,390 over the year.

Sarah is on The Sun's Squeeze Team panel of experts, here to help you through a crippling cost of living crisis.

If you’re worried about how to make ends meet, are struggling to pay off your debts or don’t know how best to manage your cash, get in touch by emailing Squeezeteam@thesun.co.uk.

Mistake one – not applying for social broadband tariff

Households on benefits including Universal Credit are eligible for cheap deals called social broadband tariffs.

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They're special deals that are lower than the market rate to help make paying for this essential bill more affordable for hard-up households.

The average saving you can make by signing up to a social tariff is £230.

"Part of the problem is that they’re not advertised, and they don’t tend to appear in all of the comparison tables, so it’s easy to miss them," Sarah said. 

"However, a quick online search for broadband social tariffs will send you in the right direction."

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That's why The Sun has called for broadband companies to make it easier for customers to switch to these cheaper tariffs.

Usually, you have to ring up to apply, because there aren't a lot of telecoms firms that allow you to sign up online.

Mistake two – paying too much council tax

You could be owed thousands in council tax refunds if you’ve been put on the wrong band.

Council tax bands are based on how much your property was worth on April 1, 1991 for England and Scotland, and April 1, 2003 for Wales. 

These bands determine how much you’ll pay in tax.

If you’re placed in a higher one than you should be, then you can check it and challenge it.

To do this, find out what band your neighbours are on based on houses similar in size and value.

This information is available online and it's free to check – if you are in a higher band and want to make a challenge, contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland.

If you're moved to a lower band, you'll get a refund of council tax going back to the date you moved into the property.

But be warned – you risk ending up paying more than you were before.

Sarah said: "It’s worth being aware that challenges can be denied, or can mean the valuation is raised instead of lowered – along with your bill, so do a bit of homework before you try it.

"But some people have reclaimed hundreds or even thousands of pounds."

You could get up to £2,500 back in some cases.

Mistake three – paying for a forgotten subscription

We've all been guilty of signing up for a free trial and forgetting all about it.

But it could mean you've been rolled over to a monthly or annual subscription after the free trial ended – and paying for something you never use.

Comb through your bank statements to see if you've got one you need to axe, Sarah said.

"It’s worth checking your direct debits in case you have any of these services lurking," she said.

"If you’re within the first 14 days of the first payment being taken, you have the right to cancel and get your money back.

"Otherwise, it’s worth checking the initial advert you responded to, and if it wasn’t clear that you would be charged, you have the right to a refund."

If there's £25 worth of surprise subscriptions coming out of your account, cancelling them could save you £300 a year, Sarah added.

Mistake four – paying for a mobile phone you already own

Keep an eagle eye on when your phone contract is due to end.

It means you've paid off the cost of your handset, so you can make your bill much smaller.

You should switch to a SIM-only contract – which means you're just paying for data, calls and texts.

Sarah said an estimated 8.8million customers are overpaying on their phone bill because they haven't made the switch.

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"At the end of your contract you may decide to upgrade and keep paying for the phone – but you can switch onto a SIM-only contract and save significantly," Sarah said.

"If, for example, you moved from a monthly contract charging £40 a month to a sim-only deal at £10 a month, you could save £360 a year."

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