Customers of E.ON have been left furious as the energy supplier mistakenly took payments 11 days early from around 1.5m accounts.
E.ON told those that have been affected that refunds will not be processed until after Christmas.
Hundreds have taken to Twitter to confront the energy supplier about the early direct debit payment. Many have complained that the error will push them into unplanned overdrafts and plunge them “into Christmas poverty”.
The mistake could cost E.ON’s customers an extra £100 during the Christmas period.
“Christmas ruined, can’t afford to pick up my pre-ordered Christmas shop today because E.ON took my direct debit early.” tweeted one customer.
“Not only will many on low incomes be starved for money now, but they’ll probably be hit with bank charges, too,” tweeted another customer.
A spokesperson for E.ON said: "Due to an IT issue, we have inadvertently taken direct debit payments early from some of our customers.
"We are sorry for this error and are taking steps to contact affected customers where we can, as well as putting information about the issue on our website and social media channels.
"Customers do not need to do anything or contact us, and we ask that they bear with us while we work to refund them on the first available date, which is 29 December. Customers' direct debit payments will then be taken in line with their usual payment schedule.
"If a customer has incurred bank charges as a result of this issue, we will of course reimburse this money to them. Any customer who is concerned should contact us to discuss their circumstances."
The energy company responded to the backlash on Christmas Eve, however customers claim that E.ON were aware of the issue at least a day earlier.
“They knew about this yesterday as I contacted them due to my bank notifying me of a [direct debit] from them due today and they told me it was a system error and I was not to worry despite my reservations,” said one customer on Twitter.
Ofgem, the industry regulator, said it will “take action as appropriate” and that they are in talks with E.ON to uncover the “root cause of the issue”.
“This is a distressing experience for some customers, particularly at this time of year. We understand that E.ON is working to resolve this issue, and refund customers, as soon as possible,” Ofgem said.
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