Why has my Direct Debit amount changed?


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Direct Debit reviews are super complex – and a hot topic here at OVO!

Lots of things affect your review or payment amount, like how long you’ve been with us, your predicted energy use vs your actual use, and even the weather! To help you answer all your questions around Direct Debit reviews, we’ve created a topic just for that. Here’s a great page, packed with useful info on Direct Debit reviews which we think will be really helpful.

If you don't see an answer to your question, share it below so others can help you. Our moderators will also be on hand to step in if needed. So go ahead, get posting and sharing!

Updated 20/02/2020


203 replies

It's very difficult to predict annual gas usage with gas heating, because this will vary hugely with a cold winter. I've kept monthly usage figures since 2010, the last unusually cold winter, and I assume that OVO's predictions are based on average temperatures. I keep my own running annual usage each month, and I happen to think that my own predictions are better than OVO's, since I know about changes I'll be making with energy saving measures. They don't. I prefer to retain as much control as possible over direct debit amounts, but generally I've found the recommended amount to be about right.
Userlevel 1
[quote=Tim_OVO]
Direct Debit reviews are super complex – and a hot topic here at OVO!
quote]

No they're not! It's pretty straightforward. You pluck an arbritary figure out of the air when we join, based on house size, occupants, etc. Then you spread that arbitrary figure over the year and set a direct debit payment to suit.
It's only a hot topic because you're getting it wrong. People want control and stability. So when you tell people that you're going to change their direct debit and there's nothing you can do about it, people are now no longer in control and it's now unstable. It isn't 'super complex' at all.
I wonder how many customers have received a letter stating that their direct debit is being reduced due to a surplus being forecast?
Userlevel 1
One of the very important issues that led to me becoming an OVO Energy customer was due to adjustable direct debit payments. E-on completely screwed up my account to such a level that the Ombudsman for energy became involved.
I personally do not wish to have any variable direct debit payment products. I require to know exactly how much will be leaving my account each month. In fact I would consider switching if this option is adopted by OVO Energy. It leads to too many errors and too much unnecessary communication being required to correct those errors, usually by the customer.
I prefer to overpay throughout the summer, accumulate enough to possibly make a withdrawal if the amount is excessive, then erode any remaining surplus during the high usage periods.
Please assure me that my current fixed direct debit payment will not be changing.
John L Edis.
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I've been given a 'recommended Direct Debit amount' below which I cannot go. Your estimate for my annual usage subtracted from the amount you'll collect from me over the year with this new amount will leave over £500 in credit. Why can't I lower the 'recommended' amount so that my annual amount will be closer to your estimate? Why is it called 'recommended' if you can't go below it? Surely 'minimum' amount would be more accurate. My current balance is £0.00.
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Direct Debit reviews are super complex – and a hot topic here at OVO!

Lots of things affect your review or payment amount, like how long you’ve been with us, your predicted energy use vs your actual use, and even the weather! To help you answer all your questions around Direct Debit reviews, we’ve created a topic just for that. Here’s a great page, packed with useful info on Direct Debit reviews which we think will be really helpful.

If you don't see an answer to your question, share it below so others can help you. Our moderators will also be on hand to step in if needed. So go ahead, get posting and sharing!


I'm really upset. I joined OVO in June 2017 when I was told my monthly usage would be £84, I gave a meter reading and signed up, then a month later I gave another meter reading. Just TWO WEEKS after that I got an email, which oddly ended up in my spam folder, telling me that despite being in credit I'd have to nearly double my monthly amount to £145 per month, which was based on my usage! It's summer, so no heating is on, so where is this "usage" coming from?! After just a month?!!! We switched to OVO because they were reasonable but I'm being asked for more than when I was with Npower! I only found this out when Ovo tried to take the last of my money out of my bank account, thanks a bunch for using my food shopping money for an account in credit! It's ridiculous to change my direct debit and say "if we don't hear from you we'll assume it's all fine" because it certainly isn't. I feel horribly conned after being told my monthly Ovo payment would be almost 100% less when I joined, less than 3 months ago, but now I'm told it needs to go up by so much. This is awful, absolutely awful and I will be making a formal complaint because this is an underhand way to get customers, by luring them in on a good deal to change the goalposts less than 3 months in. We are a normal family, who try to be economical with our energy but apparently being in credit doesn't count for keeping to the pre arranged deal.
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Hi all.

My understanding of direct debits changing was to ensure we as customers end up with a balance of £0 at the end of the contract.
Whilst we are charged based upon our usage, it is likely that this will fluctuate during the contract, resulting in changes being suggested/made to the direct debit.

I hope I have explained myself clearly, and am on the right path in terms of why a change is necessary.
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I'm not too concerned by this, as the level set is acceptable - probably due to being an OVO customer for a few years now, so there is enough usage data to establish a relevant DD payment. Equally, I'm not concerned by any minor levels of over-payment in the summer months, as I understand that any excess balance accrues 3% interest, which is better than banks pay - so potentially overpay more and gain the interest!!
While I am generally very happy with OVO as a supplier, I do have issues with the modelling methods used to "predict" my usage for the coming year. I understand that there are many things that feed into cost and, therefore, the direct debits, but my usage pattern for this year, will, generally, be similar to last year's. When modelling my gas usage, for Sept and Oct 2017 you are forecasting approx 10x higher usage than last year and approx 1.5x for Nov and Dec 2017.

Consequently, your recommended direct debits (which don't seem to recognise balances in credit) are high, in my opinion - unless you know of impending gas price rises or very cold weather on the way?
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I am currently paying £127 a month and, as it’s winter, have built up a debit of £440. OVO now wants to increase by direct debit to £202 and, as I haven’t done this myself, it is taking matters into its own hands. On a pension this new amount will be a struggle to pay every month. Questions: if I pay off a good proportion of this debit amount by making a top up payment, would this be reflected in a new direct debit that would be more manageable? Also how often does OVO review direct debits? Is it likely to be lowered once energy usage is reduced in warmer months? 



If the revised payment is likely to be a struggle you should contact OVO directly (and/or start a new thread)​​​​​​. As long as the revised figure is correct you will have to pay it eventually.

As long as the new figure is correct there is no benefit to paying the debt down early. The debt is effectively an interest free loan.   Note that if you can put your account into credit then you will receive an interest payment from OVO at a rate better than any high street bank will offer. But as you say the higher DD figure is going to be a struggle I’m assuming that you are unable to put your account into credit and also pay ongoing monthly bills.

You could be in “fuel poverty”  a somewhat emotive description of a potentially serious problem if left unaddressed. OVO can likely help you with this. There are lots of grants and schemes to help reduce fuel bills for those that qualify.

Tagging for mod attention @Nancy_OVO , @Amy_OVO  

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I have had no real issues with changes to direct debits. I tend to build up credit in the Summer months to pay for the higher usage in the Winter months. My direct debit was reduced once by Ovo as I was building up too much credit. Other changes I have made myself based on what Ovo recommends.
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I've just had a letter telling me my DD is to be increased by 25%! Checking online confirms this cannot be reduced.
I have Projected my consumption based on 5 or more years records of our non-standard SD cottage and this will mean a year end credit balance of over £200. Can't object to the interest generated but I object to the loss of control of my finances.
Also I notice that my meter readings, supplied monthly, are being adjusted upwards to increase the balance in my account. Has anyone else observed this practice?
Userlevel 1
I'm really upset. I joined OVO in June 2017 when I was told my monthly usage would be £84, I gave a meter reading and signed up,  then a month later I gave another meter reading. Just TWO WEEKS after that I got an email, which oddly ended up in my spam folder, telling me that despite being in credit I'd have to nearly double my monthly amount to £145 per month, which was based on my usage! It's summer, so no heating is on, so where is this "usage" coming from?! After just a month?!!! We switched to OVO because they were reasonable but I'm being asked for more than when I was with Npower! I only found this out when Ovo tried to take the last of my money out of my bank account, thanks a bunch for using my food shopping money for an account in credit! It's ridiculous to change my direct debit and say "if we don't hear from you we'll assume it's all fine" because it certainly isn't. I feel horribly conned after being told my monthly Ovo payment would be almost 100% less when I joined, less than 3 months ago, but now I'm told it needs to go up by so much. This is awful, absolutely awful and I will be making a formal complaint because this is an underhand way to get customers, by luring them in on a good deal to change the goalposts less than 3 months in. We are a normal family, who try to be economical with our energy but apparently being in credit doesn't count for keeping to the pre arranged deal.
I have always provided a meter reading, as I have signed up for a 2 year fixed rate contract. Within 3 months, I have had an increase in my direct debit of £28, which is an incredibly high increase. Whilst I would have been happy for the payment to increase by £14, making it a nice round figure of £100 per month, an increase of that is excessive I feel. I was not able to adjust my direct debit to the amount I wanted to pay, as OVO wanted to take the extra money at my next payment date, then reduce the amount to £103, which was still not acceptable to me. I'm prepared to pay the shortfall of £200 by internet banking, which will make me way over 1 month in credit, with a possibility of reinstating the direct debit to a reasonable amount. Please advise and give me your internet banking details so I can get this payment made. Once this is done, I may be prepared to pay by direct debit, but will cancel it again in the instance that it is increased by your company to an unreasonable amount. Thank you.
Userlevel 1
Despite always being in credit, last year it ended up over £300, paying at OVOs recommended DD amount. I am now being asked to increase my current DD by 25%.
I cannot find in the contract where it states I must be in a credit of their choosing or any credit for that matter. I am responsible enough to increase my payments if required.

I agree with a lot of the posts re direct debits changing.  I’ve had 4 requests to change and increase my direct debit in the last 2-3 months.  When I refused, as my account is in credit I received a patronising email about budgeting and not getting in to debt.  Ovo appear to assume that everyone who uses their services is incapable of managing their own budgets and they are the experts on customers finances.  In the 5+ years I have been with them, never being in debt to them,  the Customer service in the last two years has been pretty dire.  I have now been told that they will hold my DD for 3 moths but that’s all they can do.  My contract doesn’t end until September.  So the assurances they have on their website about DD’s and especially the bit about being in credit and in debt appear to be just lies. I am seriously thinking of leaving them at the end of my contract if things don’t change?

I would suggest that they improve their training in customer services and recognise that patronising customers is not normal practice.

The debate and angst caused by fixed direct debits, account balances and account reviews should have disappeared with the introduction of smart meters. The only reason it hasn't is because the energy providers don't want to pre-fund 1 month of customers' energy, and allow payment in arrears.

The concept of building credit in summer months to cope with higher winter bills is convenient for the energy providers but makes little sense in a Smart world where real-time data and variably direct debits exist. Yes, many folk like the idea of knowing how much is coming from their bank account each month and that's fine. But there are others, like us, who would much prefer to pay each month for exactly the amount of energy we've used.

Many folk live increasingly complex lives where our energy needs are far from linear or predictable. Weather patterns are changing all the time. To watch OVO and other energy suppliers spending good money trying to predict and graphically display how much gas and electricity we'll be using in the coming months and year is laughable and frankly insulting. We know our life-style and situation better than anyone and are able to budget and manage our finances and energy usage. That should be possible with smart meters, but energy providers don't give you the option, at least not yet.
Only joined OVO a few months ago and have a fixed price for 2 years but it appears to work the same as other suppliers i have used. During the winter months, you go over your monthly price, but in summer, usage goes right down and balances out and the payment is amended higher or lower when a new term begins. So why have i received an email this soon telling me to up my D.D payments? It's winter! Surely i can wait until the summer and my usage drops below and review it then?

There is nothing on the helpful hints on DDs, which explains why the recommended DD can change so much from day to day. I appreciate the review process, and have had it with other providers, but this constant change, plus the misleading emails telling you to change I find very annoying. Everything else with OVO has been fine, apart from this, which they seem unable to sort out.

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Hey @Grandfather Maxwell and @NoPoke, thanks for looking out for @Flatfluff, I can confirm contacting our support team regarding this would not impact your Self Service Reward. 

If you ever need to get in touch about something you're not able to do online, or you can't find the answer to on our website, then you wouldn't run the risk of losing the Self Service reward. You can find more information about the Self Service reward here.

@Flatfluff if you can clear the debt and bring your balance into credit and this isn’t going to leave you in a difficult position, you can leave your Direct Debit as it is, that’s your prerogative, but the support team will offer payment options. 

I hope this helps! 

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Rats!

So I lose the argument, but still have to deliver the choccies!  :chocolate_bar:

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Would it be wise to send such a large box while @Tim_OVO is away? :thinking:

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Just going back “on topic” can I recommend that @Flatfluff has a look at the LEAP website for home energy advice?

LEAP doesn’t have offices covering all areas and I don’t know if they’re represented in Norwich.

However, if you satisfy any of the qualifying criteria, you get a trained/approved energy advisor visiting you. Depending on what they find, they can generate Reports/Recommendations which open the doors for grants, and free or reduced-price low-energy items.

One of the very important issues that led to me becoming an OVO Energy customer was due to adjustable direct debit payments. E-on completely screwed up my account to such a level that the Ombudsman for energy became involved.
I personally do not wish to have any variable direct debit payment products. I require to know exactly how much will be leaving my account each month. In fact I would consider switching if this option is adopted by OVO Energy. It leads to too many errors and too much unnecessary communication being required to correct those errors, usually by the customer.
I prefer to overpay throughout the summer, accumulate enough to possibly make a withdrawal if the amount is excessive, then erode any remaining surplus during the high usage periods.
Please assure me that my current fixed direct debit payment will not be changing.
John L Edis.


Hi @johnledis,

Thanks for your post.

Generally speaking, your Direct Debit amount is fixed. Meaning we'll estimate your usage for the year - either based on your previous usage, or the information you provided during sign up if you're a new customer. We'll then calculate how much this will cost and divide it into 12 equal monthly payments.

As you say, this should mean you build up a large credit balance during summer, which will then be used up in winter.

However, if your actual usage falls too much out of line from what we'd estimated, we'll review the Direct Debit and suggest a new amount to cover what we now think you'll use.

I hope this answers your question.

Thanks,
Max
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I have just been asked for a significant increase on my £145 DD. Even thought in credit by £150 and not using gas at all in summer. Very disappointed but even more so that having joined in Jan 2016 I thought my 12 month contract had ended in Jan 2017, but no, I automatically started a 'new' 12 month contract which attracts a £60 early termination fee. Very disappointed in OVO and this DD experience seems to be common. This new contract was imply not clear, so maybe others should check if they are considering leaving.

Thanks for commenting @JohnL. We have a handy OVO Answers link here: https://www.ovoenergy.com/help/direct-debit-review which explains Direct Debit reviews in much more detail.

When your contract expired, you’ll have rolled onto our Simpler tariff. This is a variable tariff that doesn’t have any leavings fees. We wouldn't have been able to fix you into a new tariff without going through the renewals process with you (either online or over the phone).

If you remain concerned about this, please send me a private message so I can look into this in more detail.

Lucy
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On January 1st 2016 or there about, I was told by ovo that they I would be paying £67 per month if I joined them; I was very happy. In November 2016 it went up to £75 per month; still not bad but no what I was promised. The very next January 2017 it went up to £109! What is going on? Is it the usual story, tell them a lie and then reel them in, then hit them with the real bill. My "smart meter" tells me that I'm in debt to the tune of : Electricity £205.69 and Gas £415.14 a total of £620.83. I have tried to understand the damned thing but am still confused! How can it save me energy and money, the price is going up and being 70 and born into a house with only gas and no electricity, I have always economised. Who pays for these complex meters, the customer I would think.

Hey cawapiie,

I’ve moved your topic onto this thread as we have a topic about Direct Debits that are full of other users comments which I hope you’ll find helpful.

By the sounds of it, your Direct Debit has increased as your usage has increased. The advantage of having smart meters means we’ll always bill you to accurate readings. If there is a debt amount showing, this is likely to be reflective of your current account balance but double check your bills to make sure you’ve been billed to actual readings.

Lucy

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