Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keep a Debit Check; Direct Debit Can Save You Time and Money, but Check Your Bills, Says Sara McConnell HOMES & PROPERTY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keep a Debit Check; Direct Debit Can Save You Time and Money, but Check Your Bills, Says Sara McConnell HOMES & PROPERTY

Article excerpt

Byline: SARA MCCONNELL

COUNCIL tax bills are landing on doormats across London this month and, if last year is any guide, at least 60 per cent of us will choose to pay by monthly direct debit.

Growing numbers of people are being persuaded to put away cheques and cash and set up direct debits, giving organisations permission to collect money from bank accounts. Last year, nearly half of all household bills, including mortgages and TV licences, were paid by direct debit.

Anne-Marie Kesselman, business manager at Bacs Payment Schemes, which operates the direct debit system, says: "Direct debits have grown considerably over the last five years."

Government departments, councils and companies like direct debits because they cut administration costs and provide a steady income.

Paying by direct debit can save you money, because you often get a discount.

According to figures from Bacs, you could save up to [pounds sterling]203 a year.

But unless you keep an eye on your account, you could end up out of pocket if an organisation makes a mistake.

In one case reported by consumer watchdog Energywatch, an energy company took [pounds sterling]1,620 from a customer's account when her monthly direct debit was [pounds sterling]25.

Another customer changed suppliers, but his previous supplier kept taking money from his account.

Energy companies, in general, have a poor billing record, says Julie Read, campaigns media officer at Energywatch (www.energywatch.org.uk; 0845 906 0708). Of the complaints received last year, 61 per cent, or 40,000, were about billing, including direct debits.

When you set up a direct debit, you are covered by the banking industry's guarantee. If money is wrongly taken from your account, the bank should give you a full refund as soon as the problem surfaces. You can cancel a direct debit by contacting your bank; you do not have to tell whoever is collecting the payment. Organisations must give you 10 days' notice of changes to amounts to be paid or payment dates. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.