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Utilities: Direct Debit

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the imposition of extra monthly charges is justified for customers of telephone and other utilities companies who do not pay bills by direct debit. [HL1810]

Over the years, telephone and other utility service providers have applied a price differential between customers who pay their accounts by direct debit and those who pay by other means. This reflects the increased processing and debt-management costs associated with payments not made by direct debit. Such differentials are common practice.

The independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), announced on 6 June 2007 that it would carry out a full review of communications providers' additional charges. Ofcom expects to announce the conclusions of its review soon, and progress may be monitored on its website While gas and electricity suppliers also have differentials between various payment methods, they do not impose additional monthly charges for customers who do not pay by direct debit.