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28 September 2015, 06:00
Companies are ripping students off to the tune of £335 million a year because they are either too afraid to complain or do not know their rights, Ombudsman Services has warned.
The mediator's research found that almost eight in 10 (78%) students have encountered a problem with a company and lost money as a result, with energy, property and telecoms firms among the most likely culprits.
Of all students living away from home, around one in five (19%) has been overcharged for their gas or electricity bills, one in seven (14%) has paid bills from previous tenants and one in six (17%) has paid for damage they or their housemates did not cause.
A further one in 10 (10%) forgot to reclaim their tenancy deposit and one in 16 (6%) paid twice for the same service.
Such actions leave Scottish students around £264 worse off each year, the research claimed.
Yet despite being entitled to a refund, only one in four (25%) students actually bothered to complain.
Many said they remained silent for fear of intimidation (28%), while others were too embarrassed (26%) or simply could not be bothered (21%).
Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith called on more students to challenge unfair charges from companies.
"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,'' he said.
"Students should not be losing money, simply because they don't know their rights or are not making a fuss.''
To help students address any problems, Ombudsman Services has issued its Know Your Rights Guide, which can be found here: