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


Has anyone else had a continual ongoing battle with ovo to try and stop endless price increases? so far my 'fixed rate' dd payments have increased from £76 pcm to their current estimate of £293 pcm... for a small 3 bed semi!!! any suggestions about how to prevent my impending bankruptcy at the hands of ovo energy? TIA.
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Best answer by Darran_OVO 29 March 2019, 15:06

@victsandy to be fair that's a pretty big hike. I don't have the details of your specific account, so it would be worth checking your account balance in MyOVO.

For example, if you have any debt on your account, we would take this into consideration when working out a Direct Debit review, to ensure you are paying enough to cover your usage and any debt for the remainder of your contract.

It would also be good to know if you have been giving us regular meter readings, and whether you have had a Direct Debit review previously?? We find sometimes, if a customer hasn't given readings, we've had to estimate your usage, which might not then match your actual usage. Also if a customer lowers their Direct Debit payment, after we've increased it, that can cause debt to build up as you are not covering your usage, and at some point, we'd need to review it again and increase to prevent you getting into more debt.

If you could check your account and let us know, it would be a big help in trying to get to the bottom of this for you.

Darran
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New customer - allocated to OVO when Economy turned over. First electricity bill in and getting message about how existing DD inadequate vs forecast usage and recommending a 45% increase (from £124 to £180). Whilst I think it might be likely there will need to be an increase, I am unable to adjust the amount to anything other than the £180 OVO recommends, even though the figure appears in an inviting box from which you can delete the default recommended figure.

Why do you not permit a flexible (ie customer chosen) amount for the change in DD?

I've read the explanations about how the DD is calculated (though the assumptions about energy use are the variable factor about which we might disagree and is why I would want to pay a different amount to what OVO recommends), but I am perplexed why OVO states that the balance needs to be "zero" at the end of the contract - why does OVO assume I will clear off to another supplier at the end of whatever period I originally signed up for? It doesn't say much about your confidence in being a competitive energy supplier. Instalment payments (ie Direct Debit) needs to be in balance with costs incurred over the long term, not over a possibly artificially shortened period dictated by the duration of the energy supply contract to which customers are currently signed up.

I am now waving goodbye to Ovo for this very reason - after forcing my direct debit up ‘because i would not have sufficient credit etc etc. I ended up £850 in credit in one payment!! A quarter of my annual expenditure! I reset the dd based on last year and requested a £600 refund, still £350 in credit as next payment taken- same again though trying to force my dd up despite a full prediction from last 2 years to a level far higher than necessary. Luckily i can go and am this month! I shouldn’t have to be watching my account all the time constantly having to change the DDs to an acceptable level. So far every estimated reading has been far in excess of the previous period. Despite regular readings no matter what time of year! Bye Ovo

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.
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Good evening Sparky70 and welcome from a kindred spirit. I too would like to see an answer to your questions instead of the frequent irrelevant waffle from the company "Standard Replies" book. If they request PM communication please ask them to publish the reply on the open forum so we all can read it.
When I signed up with OVO I provided my previous annual consumption (which has been fairly constant for the past many years) and they calculated a a direct debit monthly amount of £164. So I budget for this amount for the next twelve months. Now I am faced with almost monthly advice from OVO to increase this to over £200 per month to cover my anticipated increased consumption. I have electrical heating (storage radiators) which is switched off for several summer months and no air conditioning equipment in my 3 bedroom semi. I am at a loss to understand why and they do not provide a formula for calculating the proposed increase in direct debit which they are now going to enforce.
Which incidentally seems to conflict with their advice detailed in my previous posting. (1 month ago)
I feel that their concern that I might be in debt at the end of my twelve month contract could be more of a worry for them than for me. No company likes outstanding debt. I worked in the electricity supply industry and we went through a period when there was a current account cash flow problem and we had to use every means possible to collect in money from the customers (they were called consumers in those days) to keep the business going.
So Sparky70 I look forward, but not with much hope, to seeing detailed replies to the questions you have raised.
Grandfather Maxwell
I was wondering why my direct debit review has increased the amount by £5 to make £105 since Ovo recommend I should only pay £10?
I keep overpaying on purpose as I find a regular payment more suitable to keep my finances in check, I have a large positive balance due to overpaying so why increase it?
I have stayed with Ovo for quite a few years now and even suggested them to others but I don't understand this review increase!
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So Ovo can just play fast and loose with our money? When I first signed up with Ovo I said to my wife that this seems too good to be true. Seems I was right. Greed and profit abo e customers once again. If the regulator doesn't sort this then it opens the flood gates for profiteering companies to overcharge by small amounts and get away with it. Theft is theft. I'll be requesting Ovo look at my account history and adjust it properly.

 

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NoiseMaker,

The link on the BBC site is:

www.bbc.co.uk/business-51292695

Grandfather Maxwell

 

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Cheers. Found it before. Gross incompetence or theft. That's a big wedge to be a slight mistake. But then we don't make mistakes; we get results.

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Hi @NoiseMaker @Grandfather Maxwell 

 

We don’t always get things right and accept Ofgem’s findings. We apologise to any members affected and can reassure you that all issues are now resolved. We hold ourselves to extremely high standards, and we have worked hard to put things right. 

 

More info on our blog post here
 

I'm sure you do, but never the less, it's not right that if potentially, thousands of customers who may have been overcharged by £9:99, they have to foot the bill. If I took £9:99 from someone without their permission that would be classed as  theft..... a criminal offence. OFGEM have got a nerve and basically put Ovo above the law imo.

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Previous postings referred to “personalised replies”.

Hi@Grandfather Maxwell 

We don’t always get things right and accept Ofgem’s findings. We apologise to any members affected and can reassure you that all issues on affected accounts are now resolved. We hold ourselves to extremely high standards, and we have worked hard to put things right for our members. 

Thanks

Hi @NoiseMaker @Grandfather Maxwell 

 

We don’t always get things right and accept Ofgem’s findings. We apologise to any members affected and can reassure you that all issues are now resolved. We hold ourselves to extremely high standards, and we have worked hard to put things right. 

Glad to see you are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

 

Thanks for your response...I did go thro the Ombudsman and sadly got nowhere; left feeling that they were firmly on the side of the providers 🙄 the blame has been placed on my previous provider which is a tad ludicrous...hard to know where to turn other than seeking legal advice. It's such a game ☹️
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Constantly getting emails in winter to increase my DD, the last one threatened to increase it by force. Last year I was over £500 in credit and they didn't complain as this was in their accounts and creating profits for them. I've made top up payments to prevent going into debt, but they insist on increases despite the coming warmer season meaning I'll be well in credit. Perhaps they should take into account the changing temp conditions when calculating DDs and usage. Imo, I think this is done on purpose to create potential investment revenue.  

 

Totally agree with SBilly

 

 

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I’ve moved your post here, @NoiseMaker, the above thread has lots of info regarding the Direct Debit process. If you can’t find the info you need above try here and here.

Thanks! 

Userlevel 1

I’ve moved your post here, @NoiseMaker, the above thread has lots of info regarding the Direct Debit process. If you can’t find the info you need above try here and here.

Thank you. Lots of info here. It would seem then that either ovo doesn't have a clue or they're bullying people to take in investment revenue like I suggested in my OP. I'm going for the latter. If they force an extortionate DD on me I'll go straight to legal representation. 

Thanks! 

 

Userlevel 1

NoiseMaker,

Good morning. I had a similar problem as you may see from my previous many postings on this site. To me it seems that the supply company want to keep their cash flow positive and do not want to have customers owing them money even though their customers signed up to spread the usage payments over twelve months.. I had plenty of excuses for changes to the Direct Debit but never understood why it had to alter when my annual consumption remains reasonably constant, although it does vary between winter and summer months. At the end of the contract I “voted with my feet” and hopefully the problem has gone away. If not I shall have to return to this Forum in a humbler mode.

Grandfather

At the beginning, Ovo seemed too good to be true. I said to my wife, Watch this space. After being with them for 12 months hassle free, problems started. I wasn't surprised. A major problem was when to send in meter readings. Not exactly rocket science, but they made a meal of it as they took for extortionate estimated readings. There's really no need for all the crap they're creating, but then that's greed and the profit monster for you. I'll be looking around near end of term unless Ovo buck up. NB: on the two occasions I've been in debit I've always made a top up payment immediately so never owed them anything. 

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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

If,
"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?
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Hey @jassoi we don't usually look at customer direct debit amounts if they are in credit. I'd like to take a look at this so have sent you a private message to get some info.

Darran
Userlevel 5
Take a look at the best answer, @Sparky70, this should help explain why we need to increase the Direct Debit (DD).

If the suggested amount isn't affordable, we can look at other options. The lowest we could set the DD would be £163 - if this still wasn't affordable we'd need you to get in touch with our Collections team on 0800 0699 831 they're available Monday-Thursday 8am-8pm, Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday 9am-2pm. You can also email them on collections@ovoenergy.com.

We don't assume you'll leave to another supplier, but your contract will come to an end and it needs to be paid up to date regardless of whether you renew with us.
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.
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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.
Userlevel 1
It seems a pity that this topic has gone cold as I am still confused about the way OVO calculate the recommended Direct Payments especially for June 2019. Please refer to the attached chart which shows the Recommended Minimum Direct Debits with six variations for June.
Earlier in May I received an email from OVO informing me that they were increasing my D D payments as I had not responded to their advice to increase my payments. When I objected to this they put a two month hold on reviews of my payments hence my confusion about their list of recommendations.
My advice to any who read this is to keep a regular check on your usage and challenge all recommendations they give as their algorithms for calculating the payments leave a lot to be desired and bare no relation as to whether one has a positive or negative balance.
My consumption in previous years has been around 16,000 kWh for which OVO advised a monthly Direct Debit of £164 when i signed my latest contract with them.

So, failing to answer the question - is that how you operate? Economy were rubbish (and, hey, they crashed): Are you looking to go the same way? Here are some numbered points to help comprehensive response:

  1. As I stated, I fully get how you say you calculate the direct debit payments; I don't need to be directed to the explanation again. In doing so, you have ignored the subsidiary point that the DD calculation is an estimate made by you, which is therefore subjective and might very well (very frequently, to judge by comments on here) be at variance with what the customer thinks.
  2. I haven't said the "recommended" DD amount is unaffordable - that is your assumption. The context is a notice from you that the existing DD amount is not enough and that you want a specified sum more. However, I do not want to pay money to you that just builds up a credit balance to your benefit, which is better continuing to benefit me in my own bank account. I refer you to the point above.
  3. You concede that you could be flexible about the amount of the DD, yet have not answered the question about why the on-line account management facility does not allow a figure other than your recommended (or, of course, a higher) figure to be set.
  4. You introduce a new consideration: Your "recommended" DD figure requires the customer to select "Go ahead". If I do not, does that mean you have to continue to take the existing DD amount? That would be cutting off your nose to spite your face, given you are not allowing customer-controlled DD variation. If there is genuine underpayment likely over the contract, that might also cause customer hardship at the end. Or will you simply impose the new amount if I don't eventually click on "Go ahead", for my own sake? That sort of paternalistic, remote corporate action would cast a shadow over your shiny customer-friendly image, wouldn't it?
  5. Lastly, is there not a distinction between being in a contract and the tariff on which electricity is supplied? Customers are able to switch tariffs from the same provider - you even offer an overview of available (cheaper) tariffs (if any) on the front page of your bills. I might well switch tariffs if you offered one to my benefit, but why would I necessarily end my contract with you? Obviously, that might happen if there was a better deal from another company available, but I again say it is extraordinary that you go about your business on the assumption that your customers will depart at the end of the tariff/contract they are tied to with you. That is an attitude problem.
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Hey @Sparky70, I'm sorry you feel like your question has gone unanswered, I'll do my best to address all of your points.

You're right reviews are based on estimates of what you'll use over the course of a year, so sometimes we may recommend an increase even if in credit. This can be the case in the summer, when you are using less and building up a credit, but we anticipate the higher usage over the winter.

The estimations are based on usage history in the property, so the more meter readings we have, the more accurate we can estimate the Direct Debits, if you are providing regular readings, or even better have a smart meter with us your recommended increase will be inline with your annual usage.

We can not hold onto your credit when you have a fixed plan with us, we only stipulate that one months credit on the balance remains, if there a surplus you are free to request a refund at any point. You can find more details here.

If we were to allow customers to set their Direct Debit to an amount of their choosing, the potential is there for debt to build, this wouldn’t be in the best interest for us or the customer.

We will always recommend a Direct Debit increase prior to us automatically increasing the payment, if you do not adjust your Direct Debit in line with recommendation, we will adjust it after several communication attempts.

When you are in a fixed plan with us, your online account will not detail available plans to switch to within OVO this is because you are in a contract. We have to detail all plans available that may be of benefit to you this is stipulated by OFGEM. In order to remain transparent we have to notify customers of the rates available at the end of your tariff so that the customer can make an informed decision when deciding whether or not to renew.

I hope this clears things up, @Grandfather Maxwell, please take a look at my response.
Userlevel 1
Good afternoon Sparky70 and also good afternoon Amy.
I shall be interested to see any comments you have on the reply to your questions but to me it seems like the policy of company first and customer second. I can accept this as modern company practice so long as they do not play the "Wonderful Customer Service" card too often.
Incidentally, I have been on my present tariff with them since mid December last so I am a bit confused with their "annual usage" comment.
I did give them my annual usage amount prior to them stating what my initial direct debit payment should be. This was based on their meter readings for the previous twelve months. But I digress.
Grandfather Maxwell
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[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

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