CAN EDF take money from my bank account without telling me? I signed a standing order a few years ago for an agreed amount to de debited each month. Usually at the end of the year they send me a new list of debits for the following year and credit my account with any overpayments. Last time I received no list and I checked my bank account and found over €660 had been debited without warning which made me go overdrawn and incur bank charges. What can I do to stop this happening again? M.B.
Sadly what you signed was a direct debit authority, not a standing order, the difference being that with a standing order it is you that makes payments to a third party and with a direct debit it is the third party that has access to your account to take whatever is needed to pay their bill.
All organisations are bound to tell you so I do not think the issue is them not telling you but more that you have not received the letter confirming the amounts to be taken from your account under the direct debit authority. We have had much of this in our area, due mainly to the fact that after La Poste had numbers added to all addresses but not everyone notified all of the service providers of the change.
As a result, the address is considered “incomplete” and La Poste presumably delivered the letter elsewhere - for it never to be seen again. It may be worth checking with your local post office that they do not have a stock of undelivered letters.
As to stopping it happening again, that may not be easy, since the delay is invariably seven days, from which there is the time for the company to print the bill and put it in the envelope and then post it to account for so it is unlikely that you will actually have notification before the payment is due.
All this is part of the drive large organisations are having to encourage people to go paper-free.
The best solution is instead of having the payment made from your bank account directly, to have it taken from your bank card. Now, here again, be careful.
There are generally four types:
- 1. Operates in France. Funds taken instantly the charge is made;
- 2. Operates in France. Funds taken at the end of the month;
- 3. Operates internationally. Funds taken instantly the charge is made;
- 4. Operates internationally. Funds taken at the end of the month.
You need the one where the funds are taken at the end of the month but evidently the bank charge is higher as you go down the list of the types of card.
The advantage of this is that you not only have the delay from the organisation until the payment is taken, but you then have the delay before the payment from your account is made to clear your bank card balance.
If you have access via the internet to your bank account, this makes it easier to see where things are at, since you only have one account to consult. You could also see with the organisations if they are able to send text messages since these will arrive ahead of the paper notification.