The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is reminding customers of Isle of Man Energy who pay their gas bills by direct debit that their payments are protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee.

The guarantee says: ‘The guarantee is offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay direct debits.

‘If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your direct debit the organisation will notify you (normally 10 working days) in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed.

‘If you request the organisation to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request.

‘If an error is made in the payment of your direct debit, by the organisation or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society.

‘If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when the organisation asks you to.

‘You can cancel a direct debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society.

‘Written confirmation may be required.

‘Please also notify the organisation.’

The direct debit guarantee applies to all direct debits.

It protects you in the event that there is an error in the payment of your direct debit, for example if a payment is taken on the incorrect date or the wrong amount is collected.

If a direct debit payment has been taken in error you will be entitled to a full and immediate refund from your bank.

To claim a direct debit refund, contact your bank in writing or over the phone to ask for a refund.

If there are any problems, contact them again in writing, escalating to your branch manager or customer service manager and referring directly to the direct debit guarantee.

John Wannenburgh MHK, chair of the OFT, said: ‘We are aware of a significant number of gas customers who have experienced issues when paying their bills by direct debit.

‘Gas customers need to be aware of the direct debit guarantee and should not hesitate to make use of it.

‘I would reiterate that gas customers should raise any concerns about their bills with Isle of Man Energy in the first instance.

‘If they still have concerns after that, then they should contact the OFT for advice.

‘The OFT is still working hard to press Isle of Man Energy to resolve the ongoing billing issues.

‘With permission from the complainants, we are passing details of complaints on to Isle of Man Energy in batches.

‘Some but by no means all of the complaints appear to have been resolved.

‘I would respectfully ask complainants to take the time to advise us if their complaint has been resolved.’

He added: ‘The OFT is progressing enforcement action, however, we must continue to work with Isle of Man Energy as the issues that are affecting gas customers are current.

‘The ball continues to firmly be in Isle of Man Energy’s court as it is their billing system and only they can put things right in the short term.’