I feel my Direct Debit review is totally unfair, why has it increased?

  • 28 March 2019
  • 43 replies

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43 replies

Userlevel 6
@Grandfather Maxwell I'll be sure to pass on your feedback. However, as this isn't normal behaviour for our Direct Debit review tool, I'd imagine this is an isolated technical issue on your account (or perhaps on a few) which needs looking into.

As this is a public forum, unfortunately I don't have access to your account details. If you haven't already, please give us a ring (0330 303 5063), drop us an email ( or send us a message on Facebook with your account number, full name and DoB so that we can raise this to the appropriate team.

Recommended minimum Direct Payments - My Energy Account - July 2019
I know that I offered to rant no more about Direct Debits but FIVE recommendations to change the Direct Debit within SIXTEEN days in July does I feel require some explanation.
I am retired and have time to look at MyOVO website regularly (perhaps I should try and get out more often) and so can spot changes which others may not have time to see.
But even less frequent change recommendations by OVO may cause greater confusion and worry to other customers (as can be seen in other postings in this forum).
I have no problem with my account number, **edited by moderator**, being published on this open site.
My energy account
Direct Debit recommendations for July 2019
3rd. July £58.00 Current balance -£2.80
8th. July £90.00 Current balance -£2.80
9th. July £90.00 Current balance +£161.20
11th. July £58.00 Current balance +£161.20
15th. July £65.00 Current balance +£161.20
16th. July £68.00 Current balance +£79.56

If I checked my account only weekly then I could have made three trips to the bank to change the Direct Debit amounts.
Surely there must be a better algorithm.

Grandfather Maxwell
Userlevel 5
Hey @Grandfather Maxwell,

I've edited your post as it contained your personal information, I appreciate you're happy for this to be public, but to ensure we are protecting our customers information we have a duty of care to remove this data from a public platform.

Please pop our care team a message, or give them a call, @Nancy_OVO's provided the contact info above, we'd be happy to look into this further there.

Ovo have doubled my monthly direct debit in less than 12 months.
I provided them with my annual consumption figures from a previous supplier.
How can they have got it do wrong.
I haven't changed my heating or electrical consumption life style.
They've changed mine within 6 months to 50% more than I started claiming I need to pay more to cover even though I owe them £2 from usage after debits. Joke.
Userlevel 5
Welcome to the forum, @Guy999guy and @Rooser, I've moved your posts here please check out @Darran_OVO's best answer for the info you need.
[h6]Good evening to @Guy999guy and @Rooser, and welcome to the forum of Bemused, Bothered and Bewildered ovo customers. (This forum has had over 600 views and I suggest you look at the [/h6]
[h6]"Why has my Direct Debit amount changed?" forum which has had over 20,000 views on this subject)[/h6]
It is an ongoing struggle to keep up with the excuses they give for the alterations to their Direct Debit recommendations; the weather, the expectation of worse weather to come, your changes in usage, your account is in debit, your account is in credit, your account must be in zero debit at the end of your contract as Ofgem won't like it if it is, your account must not be in credit at the end of your contract as Ofgem won't be pleased.
Ovo seem to have little concept of regular monthly Direct Debits balancing out the payments for higher usage in winter and lower usage in summer over the period of a year.
When they recommended a large increase to my Direct Debits I complained, by email and on the phone, they eventually agreed to put the proposed increase on hold for a couple of months to see if the payments brought me into a positive balance.
If you are not happy with the recommended increase ask them (nicely) to do the same for you.

Incidentally, Amy, I have received another "Recommended Alteration" to my Direct Debit: that is SIX this month.

Grandfather Maxwell
It is now September and OVO have had over a month to record my smart meter readings every half hour so that they can produce more accurate predictions of my future usage. (Their idea not mine)
In that period they have advised me several times to alter my Direct Debit Payments. As they are "only recommendations" I have chosen to ignore them. However I am still at a loss to know how the recommended amount is calculated and why it is changed, sometimes, on a less than weekly timescale.
My latest rant is because on 17th. September the Recommended amount was £14 which is ridiculously low to £67 on 26th September.
I have had no account or made no payments in this period. My current balance has remained constant at £248.
So what in the OVO system triggers these recommended changes?
The reply from OVO:

Thank you for taking the time to email us today.
I understand that on your online account it shows the recommended amount, however, this has not taking into account the credit that is on your account currently.
We will only state that its a recommended amount, however your current direct debit of £164 per month is covering your usage.
I do apologise for any inconvenience caused
I hope this has been helpful.

I should like to know why the credit is not taken into account. Is their a fault in their system?
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Hey @Grandfather Maxwell thanks for sharing this, gives us the opportunity to clarify as the above is incorrect.

The DD calculation does take into account any credit you have. It looks at what you've been using, what you are likely to use over the coming months (taking into account everyone uses more energy in winter), and then works out the DD recommendation to ensure you are able to cover all your usage from now until the end of your contract so at the end, you have a zero balance, i.e are not in debt and don't owe anything.

So whilst the DD amount you are paying at the moment might be covering your usage now, based on what you've used in the past and what you are likely to use in the future based on previous history, this is why we would have recommended a change to your DD.

Sorry that the info you received above was incorrect, we will be feeding that back to ensure other customers are not given the same wrong information. Credit balance is definitely included as part of the calculation.
Thank you for the reply the logic for which I might understand if it were monthly readings based on my monthly statements. However it seems not to be: if you refer to these instances you will see Recommended DD payments changing on an almost daily time scale:

11 th May Recommended DD £208 Current Balance +£93.22
31 st May Recommended DD £448 Current Balance +£93.22

7 th June Recommended DD £389 Current Balance -£136.66
9 th June Recommended DD £417 Current Balance -£136.66
10 th June Recommended DD £100Current Balance -£136.66

9 th July Recommended DD £90 Current Balance +£161.20
11 th July Recommended DD £58 Current Balance +£161.20
15 th July Recommended DD £65 Current Balance +£161.20

17 th September Recommended DD £14 Current Balance +£248
26 th September Recommended DD £67 Current Balance +£248

"It looks at what you've been using, what you are likely to use over the coming months (taking into account everyone uses more energy in winter),"
what variations are occurring in these short timescales?

As you may know I have been querying these anomalies with your Hello from Ovo team for many months with various assurances that, "it was a one off, will not happen again and increases are not recommended when accounts are in positive credit".

What triggered the above alterations to the Direct Debit recommendations?
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
@Grandfather Maxwell this is super useful to know.

From what you've provided it looks like your Direct Debit date and statement/bill date might not be aligned. If that's the case, when we take your Direct Debit, that amount would always be applied to your account the next working day and inflate your account balance, before we then issue a statement/bill. The gap in between these dates could cause the system to review your DD and suggest a change.

If that's what's causing these fluctuations, you can align the 2 to prevent this from happening. To find out if there is a gap in the dates, and to make a change, simply call our Care team on 0330 3035063.

Hopefully this will resolve the issue! Keep us posted.

I'm afraid I've had exactly the same problem - in May 2019, I received a notice from Ovo saying they wanted to up our direct debit from £74 per month to £117 for our gas & electricity... despite our energy usage not changing. So I contacted them, was assured that this was an error and it would not be changed and that a note would be put on my file with them.

Then, in September, I raised a query with their customer support after I noticed that their systems were predicting we would use more than twice as much volume of gas each month compared to last year (I've been with them since early 2018, and absolutely nothing has changed)... their customer services team first told me that it was because they were billing me on estimated readings (still doesn't explain why they thought we would use twice as much gas) and advised me to get a smart meter (no thanks); then told me it was because I'm on the standard variable tariff (pretty sure it's the price per unit which varies with tariff, not the quantity!!).

This morning, I got a letter from them saying they have now gone ahead and MORE THAN TRIPLED our direct debit to £234 per month... given that their own accounts payment page reckons the most we might use in the heaviest month (December) is £160 for gas + electricity, and in a quiet month £58, I think this is bordering on theft and in my opinion it's a gross abuse of the direct debit scheme. So I'm bringing this to the attention of their CEO and OFGEM, as well as putting on Twitter alongside their new campaign.

For the record, our account is £63 in debit - so over the 18 months we've been with Ovo, that could justify an increase of maybe £5 per month... you've forcibly increased our direct debit by £160 per month, and won't let me reduce it.

Now spoken (by phone) with a helpful person in Ovo. Looks like all the issues were caused by Ovo never removing the old gas meter from my account when it was changed in July, so they've been double-billing us. Why couldn't their customer services team spot this when I raised it with them by email TWICE? And how can this lead to a direct debit being forcibly tripled?! If I hadn't kept on trying to fix their mess, I could be in serious financial difficulty now.
I have had the same problem. A few days ago when I was inputting my meter readings, there was a red message saying your DD is far too low, raise it from £142 to £160 We were in credit by £390. I input the readings, slightly late, but we have now had a statement done, from estimates, higher than our actual usage, and our DD is now recommended at £130 ish and we are over £400 in credit.
It just seems so random and unrelated to timing of DD and statements, which are close together. Is it a computer that just throws out amounts from some algorithm, or are there human brains behind it.
It would appear to be just a computer, but I think that algorithm needs some serious tweaking... And Ovo's customer services needs to listen when customers are saying this doesn't look right!
If you haven't seen the letter from OFGEM to Ovo about their complaints handling, check it out:
Lxb and ajrichards: I am sorry but also relieved to read your postings. I thought that I was suffering alone.
The reference to the OFGEM letter is encouraging but now the company have gained the SSE customers I despair that it will have much effect.
In my opinion the company now gathers so much information, especially from the smart meters, that it can only be processed and outputted by their computer systems so that the first and possibly only human to consider the output is us the customers.
If the customers are confused, bemused or indifferent so be it. If, when, they receive a "red message" (apart from the few who contribute to the forum) they pay up assuming the company are correct so be it.
I have pointed out to the company on several occasions that the algorithms need improving, the passing of information between departments needs improving and the call centre supervision needs improving.
I agree that when you eventually get through to the "nice man / woman" better explanation and advice is given.

Hey, Ho another rant,
Grandfather Maxwell
Slight change of subject, but slight rant on Smart meters. They won't be getting info from a smart meter from me. I have an electricity meter in a cellar, and a gas meter outside on the front wall, and as yet they tell me a smart meter won't work as the meters won't talk to each other.

Mostly I have found OVO fine, apart from the DD issue. The taking over of SSE customers does worry me. We had a horrendous time with Scottish Power when they acquired a lot of new customers and brought in a new computer system, which was a total disaster.,Any mention of anyone talking about 'upgrading their computer systems' sets alarm bells ringing.

Provided I can ignore their recommendations and use my nous, I'll carry on.