Why has my Direct Debit amount changed?

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[h4]I have had a similar experience to chippy419 , MartynA , lovebaseball and GTurner. I also have a friend that I recommended Ovo to, who has had the same problem (managed to solve it over the phone - thank you!) My direct debits have not been pushed up automatically - yet. But I do wonder if there is a malaise in the algorithm. I must say, I am not happy that I have to find time to ring one of your nice telephone agents to sort out something that should never have occurred in the first place.[/h4]

My particular situation: currently paying £60 a month (having paid a bit higher in past periods), just changed to new fixed tariff last month (Better Energy - Economy 7 (all online)). The standard charge is £0.274 per day for electricity and the same for gas. The kWh price for daytime electricity is £0.1635 and for night time £0.0984. For gas, it's £0.0351 per kWh, but for gas you have to multiply your units by a factor to get kWh - and in my last bill that factor was 11.14. Last year I used 1093 daytime electric units, 1064 night time units and 934 gas units (10404 kWh). So I make that 0.274*365+0.1635*1093 + 0.0984*1064 + 0.274*365+0.0351*11.14*934 = £848.64.
The Ovo computer says it expects me to spend £904.24 and I am £81.92 in credit. It thinks I should pay £79 a month and will not let me set a lower figure.
(1) £904.24 / 12 = £75.35 (£4 less)
(2) (£904.24 - £81.92) = £68.53 (£10 less)
(3) £848.64 / 12 = £70.71 (£8 less)
(4) (£848.64 - £81.92) = £63.97 (£15 less)

I would like to set my payment to £65 per month for the reason above (giving myself a little headroom).

Why are Ovo so keen to give me all that interest on the expected credit???
Userlevel 6
Hey @HMB,

Your maths is perfect! That's exactly how the calculation would be made. Have you added on VAT at 5%? I only ask this as you quoted 27.4p as the standing charge, which is the price not including VAT. The price including is 28.77p per day per fuel.

Another thing to consider is the length remaining on your current tariff. The unit rates you've used in the calculation are fixed until the end of your plan, but if this ends in 7 months (for example), the Direct Debit review tool would calculate the remaining 5 months of the year ahead using current variable prices, as we don't know what fixed prices will be available that far into the future.

Hope this helps,
OK, the 5% implies another £3.25 (so £68.25), but as I've only just started the new contract, I don't see why I should be paying £77 a month?

I'm concerned about this because I don't want Ovo to lose customers by asking them to pay more than they need to. I understand that the computer programmers may be asked to err on the side of caution, but I think they are being too cautious.
After a fairly mild winter, I hadn’t been using so much gas or electric.
my current statement says I am only £11 in credit after a recent d/d of £85.i I just don’t understand why.
Niw they want me to pay £95 per month. I just can’t do it,
Userlevel 6
I think you're right, @HMB, the computer has been a little over-zealous in this instance.

If you give the team a ring on 0330 303 5063, they'll be able to later this to your preferred amount.
Ever time I have swapped suppliers which is as regular as necessary why when uswitch to a cheaper supplier your monthly DD goes up???? Then you have to wait until 3 month or so before they will re assess it meaning they have your account in credit all year !
Userlevel 6
Hi @Gleneagle and @Mutley chops - I've moved your posts onto this topic where you can find loads of info about Direct Debits.
Hi Nancy_OVO one of your telephone colleagues set my DD to £68 without any problem - perhaps it was because I told him I'd had a discussion with you on the Forum. Many thanks!
Userlevel 6
Hey @HMB - glad to hear this is sorted!
I was paying £96 a month via Direct Debit, but after submitting my last lot of meter readings, my account then told me that I needed to increase my DD to £103 a month.

I ignored this & got an email yesterday saying they were going to change the DD for me, as I have not done it.

However, when I logged in to my account today, it states it only wants to increase the amount by £1 and be £97 a month!! I've accepted this but now confused as to why the payments keep changing so much?
Userlevel 6
HI @LOZ77 - I've moved your topic over here where you can find more info about Direct Debits and payment reviews.

Hope this helps!
Userlevel 4
Something to watch out for. Over the past year the recommendation regarding my direct debit have been going up and down like an out of control yoyo. Tiresome really. I merely follow the onscreen recommendation in order to satisfy the Ovo Gods who decide whether I get my £60pa dual fuel "reward" or not.

My current plan runs out on the 5 September 2019, but I've just had another one of those direct debit emails from Ovo where it states:

Your plan anniversary date: 06/09/2020
Your Direct Debit payment date: 18th
Number of payments remaining: 14

The only accurate line is the payment date. As above, my plan ends this September. The number of payments remaining is 3 (i.e June, July and then August).

Just thought I'd share.
Userlevel 4
Badge +1
I have just changed my direct debit to reduce some of the credit surplus on my account. My email was completely different, it only mentions the direct debit payment date, amount and some of the account details. My plan runs out in November but it does not mention this at all.
Userlevel 4
I've moved your post's here, @Rooty and @Phil_H, the initial post on the thread has tonnes of info regarding Direct Debits and why we ask you to change them.

For the account specifics please contact our team on Facebook or drop them an email hello@ovoenergy.com, they'll be able to look into your account.

Hope this helps!
Userlevel 4
@Amy_OVO Of course move my post, but you haven't addressed any of my points raised in it. Far from being a complaint I merely wished to bring what I noticed to Ovo and other customers.

I've only three payments to go till my contract expires and I may well take my business elsewhere. You aim to leave users with a zero balance (or close to it) at the end of their contract. By my estimate I'm going to be in credit by around £30 - £40. No great shakes, but the incorrect "anniversary date" being a year out and the number of payments remaining being wildly out should, I have thought, have raised an Ovo eyebrow?
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Hi @Rooty. Well I find this very odd. It makes no more sense that @LOZ77 being asked for a DD increase of only £1 last month!

I know that OVO have moved their entire billing software in-house over the last year. It seems to me that someone at the London end is having trouble defining the algorithms which are meant to weed out anomalies like these.

I'm at OVO Bristol Offices on Monday, and meeting the Customer Services Manager, so I'll raise the issue of "sanity checks". When they aren't in place, it simply adds to the number of customers who have to make direct contact... which is an admin overhead they will be keen to avoid!

@Amy_OVO - can we make sure this point gets added to our agenda please? Thanks.
Userlevel 4
Thanks @Transparent. As I say, it's no great shakes on the money side. And I don't doubt I will smoothly get a refund from Ovo should I leave. I just wish Ovo were more competitive at the moment. Ho hum.

My rationale for mentioning this at all is that for those coming to an end of a two-year fixed contract might take those 14 months remaining as gospel. I am in no way suggesting subterfuge or anything underhand going on, clearly this is in error, but I can see how it could mislead some folks.

Oh, just had another look at the email and the final line reads:

"Your expected balance on your plan anniversary date: £168 Underpayment"

Which given that I'm in currently in credit, it's summer (more or less 😂) with three payments to go and a recommended increase of £10 a month, a £168 shortfall is way out!
Userlevel 4
Sorry you feel I didn't address your points, @Rooty, it's really difficulty for us to give account specific advice here, it certainly did raise an eyebrow.

The issue with the date of renewal being incorrect and the remaining payments due, is something our care team would be happy to take a look into.

For the account specifics please contact our team on Facebook or drop them an email hello@ovoenergy.com, they'll be able to look into your account.

Hope this helps!

Userlevel 4
Thank you @Amy_OVO but I'll pass on the Facebook suggestion. Any company that obligates their customer care to a privacy-sucking social media company is hardly worthy of claiming to care in my opinion.

But I've had a Bulb moment -- thank you MoneySavingExpert -- and I'll be on my way soon. They are where Ovo was a few years ago: vibrant, customer centric, offering great value.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Hi @Rooty - even if you migrate to Bulb, please remember that you can retain your membership of the OVO Forum.

And I'd like to let you know that I did have a conversation with OVO Customer Services Manager on Monday about issues raised in this Topic. I highlighted to him the points made by you and @LOZ77 - and I wrote a follow-up message for his attention yesterday (Tues), in which I sent him direct links to the points you've both made here.

Unfortunately @Amy_OVO wasn't in that part of Monday's conversations, but I do have some interim feedback for you and LOZ77 in particular.

A. We discussed the fact that both of your comments here are indicative of system faults that are likely to affect many other customers in the future. So unless & until they are addressed, there will be a growing number of customers needlessly contacting CS to ask what's happening. As CS Manager he is obviously keen to avoid this happening.

B. You are one of the earlier customers to take up the 2-year Fixed Tariff. Therefore it is quite likely that these accounts have triggered a section of code in the Billing Software which hasn't previously become "active". The algorithm is clearly wrong, and may affect other aspects of the software apart from merely sending you an erroneous notification.

Any work undertaken on the live Billing System has to be done with care, ensuring that it cannot adversely affect genuine customer accounts, estimates and statements. This part of OVO's work is subject to internal audit, and requires independent verification of code changes before the amendments are uploaded to the live system. For these reasons, such analysis and re-coding is not fast.

C. Now let's turn to LOZ77's issue of a request to raise the DD by just £1, after a previous request was lowered. OVO follow Ofgem's Guidelines on these matters.

There will be an agreed threshold below which a "change your DD" request would not be sent. However, this could be very low (99p?) because Ofgem requires Energy Suppliers to ensure that customer accounts must not be in debit when the contract term ends.

Accounts that are in debt, even by a small amount, prevent the customer being able to switch to a different Supplier of their choice until the debt is cleared. So this delays the switch process.

D. However detailed and accurate is the report of such problems within OVO's Billing Software, us customers receive no feedback on what then ensues.

Matters discussed here on the Forum are routed through to relevant people within OVO by @Darran_OVO who is the Forum Manager.

However, there is rarely any information passing in the opposite direction.

The severity of the problem or the number of people it affects have no bearing on this. Nor does my Forum Ninja badge!

So, to take another current issue, I have no idea what action is being taken to resolve the matter of SMETS2 gas meters failing to send data after installation. I reported this myself in the 2nd week of March, and others have done likewise.

We have discussed here on the Forum whether this affects all new installations of SMETS2 meters, or only a proportion of them. But us customers received no clarification either way. Therefore we still don't know whether to advise any customers experiencing this problem to individually report it to Customer Services, or whether they automatically get added to a list when OVO's software reports that it has no gas readings arriving via DCC.

This issue has now been raised in a meeting with Forum Moderators on Monday 17th.

However, until @Darran_OVO is able to implement some sort of feedback route, I'm afraid all of us customers remain in the dark about how or when any problem might be addressed.

The only indication I had that the SMETS2 gas meter problem was acknowledged by OVO was a passing question from a staff member on Monday, asking those visiting whether any of us were part of the cohort who had SMETS2 meter failures. Had I not been part of that visitor group, I would've known nothing more.

I think most of us on the Forum would feel that this needs to change.
And I think the Moderators do too! 🙂

The lack of acknowledgement or feedback to the Forum discussion Topics will inevitably lead to customers switching away from OVO... as you have just decided to do.

Apologies this is so long a reply.
I wanted to make sure that I put you in the picture as much as I possibly could.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
@Transparent Just stepping in here, as your post reads like we simply let customer feedback fester on the forum and don't do anything about it. That is absolutely not true.

I appreciate you are stepping in here to try and help, and that this comes from a good place.

And yes I agree we could do some things better and we are learning from our customers what it is they are expecting from the forum. However, this is not designed to be a primary contact channel, and we have never said that it was. Yes of course customers post questions etc on here, but for the most part, the DD process is not a one size fits all, and therefore is never something we are able to provide in depth feedback on each case.

In regards to DD's, its a very complex process and every customer will have a different experience based on the time they signed up, what tariff they signed up to, if there have been any price changes during the time from when they signed up to when they renew etc etc, the list goes on.

We will always try and step in and help resolve issues, but more often than not we will have to take this offline to try and resolve as we need to access account details as @Amy_OVO mentioned above.

The other thing I would be open about is that we are working very hard behind the scenes to improve the DD process to avoid some of these variables as we as a business know it's something we need to get better at. As soon as there are any changes agreed and in place to improve this process, we will of course share that on the forum.

We are regularly passing customer feedback on this process that we see on the forum to the department that deal with DD's so they can help fix the issues and also learn from this to improve the process, hence the forum becomes very valuable to us. We will of course get better at creating a more public feedback loop where it's relevent (not for every single issue), and with some of the changes we are going to making to the forum, this will become much easier, see, positive steps forward...! Always learning...

We also feedback to customers on some DD posts (and for that matter other account specifics) privately as they have having to provide account details, so whilst you think there is no feedback loop to customers, there is, you just don't see that.

Again, agree there is more we can do, and that is what the forum is here for to learn from our customers so that we can make positive change. 😁 We already have a load of great ideas to help us take the forum forward, a lot of those came out of the session on Monday, so was great that you were so open with your feedback.

@Rooty it's a shame you've decided to switch away, I'm sure the issue with your DD is resolvable, but if you've made your decision, then we of course thank you for being an OVO customer and wish you well with Bulb.

Our Social team are happy to help, but agree not all customers are happy to use those channels, so would encourage you to contact via phone or email if that is more comfortable for you. We will get better at offering a choice, we shouldn't assume just because you are happy to share your issues on the forum, that you'd be happy doing this on social too.

Userlevel 7
Badge +2
For the sake of others reading this, @Darran_OVO and I are following up this point off the open Forum pages. So don't hand around here for a quick response. It's not coming!
Transparent Ninja
Thanks for posting the detailed report on your meeting. I find it illuminating and some of the answers were not unexpected.

I have come across this forum by chance but I have been contributing quite regularly to another forum,

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

No doubt much to the dismay of the Moderators I am putting some information here which may further illustrate some difficulties we have with the information provided on the OVO website about our Direct Debits.
I have been advised to send my specific request for clarification to the OVO Care team so I am not looking for any answers here.
In "My energy account" I have had FIVE recommendations to change the Direct Debit within SIXTEEN days in July and I feel that this does require some explanation and rewriting of the algorithm.

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 had checked my account only weekly I could have made three trips to the bank to change the Direct Debit amounts.

Fortunately I am informed that these "Recommendations " are only "Advisory" and one has nothing to fear until the dreaded email arrives.
As I have said this contribution is just information for others who may have similar "Recommendations".

Grandfather Maxwell

Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Thanks @Grandfather Maxwell

Well I can see why your account balance triggered OVO's billing system to contact you at the beginning of the month. But is still seems to me that there's something wrong with the algorithms which are generating these numerous DD recommendations.

They may only be advisory, but it's also not clear enough to customers when they reach the tipping-point at which their Self-Service Reward will be forfeited for that quarter.

Nor can I understand why OVO are prepared to have Customer Services handling the resulting increase in contacts from concerned customers.

@Darran_OVO - is Justin still looking at these Forum Topics?

On the VIP Day last month, we were all in agreement that we needed to lighten the load on his staff. It's the most expensive component of your in-house operation. As such it has the largest impact on bills for all of us.
Transparent Thanks for your reply and interest in my posting.

When, if, I receive an explanation about the Direct Debit variations I shall let this forum know.
If OVO want to reduce the work load on Customer Services it may be worth their while including statements on their web site to inform their customers that the information provided may be only approximate, theoretical or the best possible guess based on hypothetical assumptions about future conditions. Or use the fall back of blaming Ofgem.

Grandfather Maxwell