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, but said that any who have been charged by their banks because of the error will be refunded.
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.’
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!!!!!’
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’
‘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.
Estate agent Tom Foan, 29, had £150 taken two weeks early
‘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.
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?
‘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?’.