Furious Britons slammed energy giant E.On on Thursday for taking their January payments up to two weeks early, leaving their Christmas ‘ruined’.
Thousands of customers took to Twitter to raise the issue, with some saying they could no longer afford to pay for their Christmas food shopping.
E.On told MailOnline that around 1.5million customers had been affected, including some small businesses which will already have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The German firm said an ‘IT issue’ had caused them to ‘inadvertently’ take payments early.
They added that customers will not be refunded until next week, on December 29.
One distraught customer wrote: ‘Christmas ruined, can’t afford to pick up my pre-ordered Christmas shop today because Eon took my direct debit early.
‘Thanks a lot, excellent way to round off an already s****y year.’
Another customer told MailOnline they had been left £150 out of pocket and unable to buy their Christmas food shopping.
Furious Britons slammed energy giant E.On on Thursday for taking their January payments up to two weeks early, leaving their Christmas ‘ruined’
One distraught customer wrote: ‘Christmas ruined, can’t afford to pick up my pre-ordered Christmas shop today because Eon took my direct debit early’
Another wrote: ‘Is this some sort of sick joke to end 2020????!!! Taking the next monthly payment 10 days early on Christmas Eve !!!!!
‘What a way to treat your customers and even more so during such a difficult time!!!!!’
Estate agent Tom Foan, 29, had £150 taken two weeks early
A third, a single parent suffering from fibromyalgia, said: ‘So @eonenergyuk have taken a direct debit a week early and left me with nothing in my bank.’
One ‘mortified’ customer said their direct debit had been taken 11 days early, making them overdrawn.
They added they were ‘fuming’ and now want to leave E.On ‘immediately’.
Speaking to MailOnline, another furious customer said they had been left with no money in their account to go food shopping after their £150 bill was taken two weeks early.
Estate agent Tom Foan, 29, from Epsom, Surrey, said his payment is usually taken on the 7th of each month, meaning he had already been charged for December.
Mr Foan, who lives with his wife Chloe and their baby, said: ‘We had planned to go Christmas shopping today and there was no warning. It is just horrible. There has been no contact, no communication.’
‘You have a direct debit there on trust, that someone will take your money when they say they will. It makes it ten times worse that it is Christmas eve.’
Other customers demanded to know if the error was a ‘sick joke’. A third said they had been left with ‘nothing in my bank’
Woman saving for building work feared she would not be able to pay council tax bill after E.On lapse
Customer Natalie Vellacott, 39, from Rochdale, told MailOnline that she is saving to pay for building work which is set to take place in January and had £55 taken from her account on Thursday.
It was not due to be taken until January 4.
Natalie Vellacott, 39, from Rochdale, had £55 taken from her account on Christmas Eve
‘I already paid them £46 on 1st December. If I hadn’t checked my account today my council tax direct debit may have bounced affecting my credit score,’ she said.
‘I phoned EON but there’s a recorded message about what’s happened which says they are returning the money immediately.
‘I think they should pay compensation and allow customers to switch if they aren’t happy with their service without penalty.
She added: ‘The regulator should also be involved. It’s not really what I expect from a big name like EON!’
‘If I didn’t pay my bill, I’m sure they would be chasing me,’ he added.
Whilst E.On said they will refund any customers who have been charged by their banks as a result of the payments being taken early, Mr Foan said he was told otherwise.
‘It was an hour and a half to get through to them and they said there is nothing they can do,’ he said.
‘They told me they wouldn’t cover any bank charges when I spoke to customer services. They said they can’t raise a complaint.
‘They said [instead] they would put a note on the system.
‘I said if I wanted to take it further and take it to the regulator I would need a written response but they said they weren’t willing to provide that.’
Mr Foan said he can ‘ring around’ for financial help from family to cover his food shopping bill but added, ‘I don’t want to have to do that.’
‘Christmas is a tight month for everybody. You have to budget and plan.
‘You spend months planning, only for them to go into your bank account and take the money out.’
An E.On spokesman 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 29th December.
‘Customers’ Direct Debit payments will then be taken in line with their usual payment schedule.’
Customers began complaining yesterday about money being taken early.
One claimed their direct debit was coming out on Thursday even though they had already paid their bill for this month.
They added: ‘My account is showing as “unavailable” online.’
Also amid the deluge of complaints was one customer who demanded to know, ‘why I paid £80 gas and electric bill on the 1st of Dec and now you are taking a further £80 out of my account tomorrow 24th of Dec?’.
Also amid the deluge of complaints was one customer who demanded to know, ‘why I paid £80 gas and electric bill on the 1st of Dec and now you are taking a further £80 out of my account tomorrow 24th of Dec?
Among the other affected customers who contacted MailOnline directly was one furious man who said he had had no contact from E.On after £99 was taken early from his account.
The man, Andrew, who lives in the North-West of said: ‘The money has been taken from my account but the only way I found out was when I checked my bank account this morning.
Furious customer Andrew said £99 has been taken early from his account
‘There’s been no notification from Eon via email or text and they’re always ready to text me to say they want to install a smart meter so it’s not like they don’t have my contact details.
‘I couldn’t see anything about this on their Twitter feed and the only notification that they’ve had an issue is the little pop-up on their website.’
He added: ‘This is really shoddy and the day before Christmas when people need that money to buy last minute items such as food for the coming days makes it even worse.
‘There should surely be a process in place they can use to either reverse the transaction or deposit money back into accounts, as they’ll have to do on Tuesday.’
However, Andrew said the new £99 bill which was taken out of his account in recent days is not showing up on his E.On account online.
A screenshot shows only payments on the 1st of this month, as well as November 2.
Husband and wife Karen and John Miller, from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, said they had £101 taken from their account today which was due to go out in January.
Mrs Miller said: ‘Luckily I have been paid early, as has my husband, so we can afford this, but we are very aware so many people will now be in difficulty.
‘Ironically, we moved into a new-build house at the end of October, with Eon as the supplier, but we are free to move supplier if we wish.’
She added that she and her husband opted to stay with E.On to see if they would get a ‘better deal’ but said that they will now ‘definitely be moving’.
Naomi Lordan, 36, from the Isle of Wight, said she has been left ‘pennyless’ over Christmas after £150 was taken early.
She claimed: ‘I phoned Eon who blamed the fault on my bank, Barclays, even though I had just listened to a recorded message to say there has been a technical issue which has caused the early payment.
‘I phoned Barclays which told me yes Eon have taken the payment early and they put in a request to have my funds returned, 10 minutes later I had my money back in my bank and can’t thanks Barclays enough.’
Naomi Lordan, 36, from the Isle of Wight, said she has been left ‘pennyless’ over Christmas after £150 was taken early