However well you plan your holiday, inevitably sometimes the dates fall when your energy bills or water rates are due. Most homeowners pay their water rates by direct debit or as a one-off payment, but with spiralling costs in energy tariffs, it may be that you are still paying a quarterly bill, with just a few days’ grace to get your cheque off or pay online.
Having to deal with utility bills on holiday can spoil your enjoyment and relaxation – especially if you have to phone your energy company to find out how much the paper bill is, or have to log on online while abroad to find out how much you owe and arrange payment.
This all sounds pretty straightforward given the widespread trend for online billing – but if you need to dispute a bill, supply an accurate reading, or simply do not have the cash to pay your utility bill because of your holiday expenses, more stress can occur.
There are several ways of dealing with utility bills while you are on holiday – including leaving them and sorting it out when you return. However, if you are away for more than two weeks or something happens which delays your return unexpectedly, you could be faced with a series of threatening letters from your energy providers when you return.
If you know when your bill is due to arrive from an energy provider and you are going to be away, the best course of action is to phone your supplier and let them know. You may also be able to give an up-to-date reading before you depart – and most energy providers will take payment over the phone if you want to pay at least part of your bill before you leave for a holiday, which will show goodwill on your part.
It might be that your meter will need reading before your next bill and if you time this by making an appointment just before you depart on holiday, the next bill due should arrive within a week of the meter reading, giving you time to pay on your return.
Most suppliers issue a red warning notice around a week after failure to pay an energy bill – the process of having your gas or electricity disconnected for nonpayment has to go through several stages before disconnection and this will include issuing further warning notices.
If you arrive home from holiday and find a warning notice or red invoice waiting for you – phone your energy supplier asap and explain you have been away. If you re unable to pay, ask to pay in instalments. This can mean further measures might be taken, such as having to pay by direct debit monthly in the future, having to make a deposit on your energy bill, or even having a smart meter installed, however.
If the worry of bills was not the only thing that spoilt your holiday, such as a poor service, food poisoning or an accident, ensure you make a complaint whilst at the hotel, so you have some evidence if you decide to take action and make a claim.
Peter Anderson – I love to blog about holidays abroad and travel! Google+