The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Service exploitation costing students £335m a year

Students are losing an average of £240 a year because they do not know their rights when complaining about landlords and utility companies

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Recent research by Ombudsman Services has shown that students in the UK are losing around £335 million a year to utility companies and landlords.

Out of the 1,500 students questioned, eight out of ten of them had lost money to utility companies and their landlord. Further questioning has discovered that this is mainly because students feel too intimidated to question the charges enforced upon them, but other reasons include embarrassment and not being proactive enough to check.

The service companies most responsible for this are energy companies, telecom companies and property companies. Students are overcharged by gas and electricity companies and often do not have the heart to complain. Others are charged for property damage that was not caused by them or they are charged for bills from previous tenants.

Now, Ombudsman Services has released a guide to assist students in keeping track of their bills and making sure they are not overcharged for anything. The guide includes case studies that instruct students on their course of action when replacing broken locks, dealing with misleading inclusive rent, and complaining when they are charged for overdue energy bills.

The guide also explains that all consumers of all kinds have a right to complain if they are not receiving the product they have paid for, therefore students should not be embarrassed or intimidated as they are entitled to good accommodation by landlords and utility companies alike.

Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said about the news: “We want to ensure that all students are able to stand up for their rights and speak out when things go wrong—whether that is being asked to pay for a bill from a previous tenant, or paying for damage they did not do.

“Students should not be losing money simply because they don’t know their rights or are not making a fuss.”