Why such a large increase in my recommended Direct Debit?

  • 1 February 2018
  • 66 replies

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66 replies

Thanks again, Transparent, for taking the time to respond. I know you are very friendly with Ovo but calling Eva's posting of 15th January 'a response' is stretching it a bit far. All she did was pass it over to you knowing full well that you do not have the information to deal with the query. That is 'fobbing off' not 'responding'.

In response to a private message through the forum someone called Darran from Ovo has now acknowledged that this does sound odd and has asked for my details so that it can be sorted out. It seems an extraordinarily long-winded way to deal with what should be a simple query.
Userlevel 7
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Good morning @NPTring

The Forum Moderators do respond to queries here. It was @Eva_OVO who moved your query here on 15th Jan and tagged me to see if I could respond!

However, as OVO Employees they are bound by the rules of customer confidentiality and therefore can't so easily answer the precise details of your account on an open/public Forum.

You won't find OVO staff from Customer Services, Accounts/Billing or Metering reading the Forum pages. But the Moderators do bounce certain topics to relevant Managers if they feel there's something that should come to their attention.

As an example, have a look at this Topic about Home Storage Batteries. I was discussing the issue with Forum Member Llamedospete when the conversation was joined by Hari, who is a Manager in the relevant department. (Note that I haven't tagged them here because they don't need to respond on this thread).

Returning to your precise question posted yesterday (Sun 20th), you have identified a clear anomoly in the estimated readings for your particular account. There's obviously something amiss if you are given £2874 from your My OVO account page, and £1664 on your current Statement.

You can't resolve this on your own, so you therefore can't lose the SSR by referring the matter to Customer Services.

To be absolutely certain of this, you could opt to email CS on and put the word Complaint in the Subject line. No complaint issue would ever fall within the bracket of a customer being financially disadvantaged.

There are other benefits in using an email complaint in this case:
  • OVO are contractually obliged to respond with 5 days
  • The email can be forwarded to the relevant person in accounts
  • the email can be forwarded to the programming team (in London)
... and you were absolutely right to raise this issue here. If others also similar anomolies between two estimated forecasts, they too can now find the answer I've just given.
Does anyone from OVO ever respond to queries themselves on here or is it always passed off to someone else? I would seriously like to know why OVO say my anticipated cost for next year will be £2,874.97 when my current statement says that my anticipated costs for this year (ending 20th Feb 2019) will be £1,664.14. Have you really put your prices up by 73%?

Anyone know how I can speak to someone without jeopardising my online only discount?
Thanks for taking the time to reply. Shame that OVO themselves do not seem to dedicate any resources to customer service. I guess it is all part of this attempt to show that they are not like the other utility companies and that we are all part of one big happy family.

I understand what you are saying in your suggested actions but it is so counter-intuitive to pay an additional £100 when they already owe me the equivalent of over two month's bills. I have gone into the DD page on my account and told it not to increase my DD. I shall now wait until the account is more in balance before making any changes.
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Sure @Eva_OVO let's see what we can do to resolve these curious estimates anomalies that @NPTring has raised.

Now, I'm still in my first contract with OVO, so I have no first hand experience of what procedures occur when you sign up for a new contract to take over straight after another one.

If you were a new customer entirely, then of course you get the opportunity to send in the Annual Usage stats which all Energy Suppliers must print on their invoices/statements. OVO put theirs on page 2 labelled as an Annual Consumption Forecast.

So I'm assuming that @NPTring used those figures when starting the new contract, or that OVO's in-house software picked them up from the previous account.

At this time of year, when energy usage is high, the guideline from Ofgem is that a Supplier should expect an account to be one full month's worth of DD payment in credit.

From the information provided, I don't know whether the snapshot of you being £290 in credit is being taken before or after the current month's statement has been raised.

As your payment history suggests you needed to pay £144+ of DD per month, OVO's software is correct to point out that the present £138 is set too low.

If the £290 credit figure was provided prior to the current month's bill being accounted for, then this would leave the account in credit for around (£290-£144) £146... which is precariously close to the "one month's full DD payment" stipulated in the guidelines!

And we have yet to calculate any rise in fuel prices from your previous contract, which must surely apply.

Personally, I'd do two actions:

  1. Drop a top-up amount into your account to ensure it is well clear of the £145-ish figure. Eg £100 would make a substantial difference... and of course you'll be getting 4% interest reward on that anyway.
  2. Once the top-up is showing on your account, revisit your My OVO page and recheck what is the new recommended monthly DD. If it's not decreased markedly from the suggested £203, then you can use the Complaints Procedure to address this.
Of course, you could also post back here if things still don't look right, and we can advise further.
Userlevel 5
@Transparent, are you able to help with @NPTring's query? 🙂
My usage figures over the last year would suggest the cost per month of the new 2 year deal is over the top.
Just signed up for another 2 years with OVO and received a statement that shows I am currently in credit by £290.72 and that my expected usage for the year ending 20th February 2019 is £1,726.96. Later that day I get an email saying that although I am in credit I need to increase my DD from £138 to £203 because my estimated usage for the next 12 months will be £2,874.97, a 66% increase!

No explanation and, of course, no way to contact since 'phone calls are discouraged under threat of losing discount, hence the post on the forum. I can only assume that OVO is in financial difficulties like some of the other smaller providers and is looking to its customers to bankroll it. If so, I guess the sensible thing to do is to reduce the DD so that there is no credit balance to be at risk.

I would like to hear some explanation please.
Userlevel 5
I've moved your query over here, @james111222, as we already had a topic on this. Take a look at the best answer at the top, this may help you out here!

If you've got a debit balance on your account, this will need to be cleared within 3 months, not 12.
Hi. I need to increase my DD, which is fine, but the level you recommend is way to high. I have 12 months left on my contract. Using your figures for estimated future cost, adding my current debit, and spreading that over 12 months yields a figure below £115. Your recommended new DD is £153. This would lead to an overpayment of around £450 over the year, which is well over 30%. This seems wholly unreasonable. What can I do to reset these payments at a level appropriate to both OVO and myself, rather than at the suggested rate which overcharges me to provide a substantial cushion for OVO. This strategy of overcharging monthly payments was the main reason I left my previous supplier - please let me know how you will address this
Userlevel 7
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Has reading this Forum Topic helped @denzo?

OVO actually have three different algorithms to assess estimated usage under different circumstances. One or more of these is used to inform the DD calculations, and also includes assessments of fuel increases for the winter months.

But the accuracy is only as good as the data which is fed in!
I faithfully supply monthly meter readings to ensure that OVO's algorithms are using as little estimation as possible.

However, I've also changed a portion of my heating demand during the last 6 months by installing a (wet) solar heating panel, which supplements the gas boiler. It took OVO's algorithms 3 months to get back in sync with my gas usage. During that time I deliberately kept my DD payments artificially high just to see how long it took before the re-calculation took effect.

So if we're going to provide any better advice about the large increase in DD payments which you've been asked to acknowledge, we'd need to know factors like regularity of meter readings and how your actual usage compared with what you declared when you signed up to OVO's tariffs in the spring.
Userlevel 5
I've moved your query over here, @denzo, you may find the answer you need here.

If not, I'm sure @Transparent or @Mw2870, would be happy to help! 🙂
I am a new customer to OVO from April 2018, my DD has been £66 per month since then, when winter has hit and I started to use gas central heating ... OVO has recommended that my monthly DD is increased to £370 per month. Which is over 5x the current.

This is was above the -£80 debit that I incurred on my latest statement (which I pad off as a direct payment)

I am happy to increase to £150 per month and see how that works, It online, the minimum I can enter as an updated payment is £370 per month.

I think their algorithm is way out .....

I don’t want to lose the discount for Self Service .... not contacting the call centre etc ...

Any advice on my next steps with this please,

Thank you
Userlevel 5
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@Susiebird There goes my theory out of the window!
Does the info on this link help at all?
Userlevel 6
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Hi @Susiebird - I've moved your posts over to this thread where you can find more information on why Direct Debits are reviewed and increased.
No, I'm on a 2 year fixed rate tariff but it doesn't run out for another 12 months.
Userlevel 5
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Hi @Susiebird,

Welcome to the forum. Are you on a fixed rate/term tariff? Does that run out all during the next 12 months? I am wondering if it is anticipating some sort of rise in cost per unit??

Just an idea...
My current DD is £42pm. This has recently been reduced following installation of smart meters. I've ended my first year with Ovo just over £30 in credit. Ovo predict my usage for the next 12 months will be £565 and want me to amend my DD to a minimum of £51pm.
Given that 565/12 is £47pm, why am I expected to overpay by £48 this year? I thought the aim was to try and get a balance close to zero at the end of 12 months?
Userlevel 6
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Hi @Claire678,

I've moved your post here where you'll be able to find some information about why Direct Debits might be increased.

Hope this helps
My bill has recently increased from 75 to 355 a month - I have put in my meter readings... When will this be rectified?
Userlevel 5
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@FoenticFreek Customers have full control over their accounts via My OVO so they're free to decrease their Direct Debit or ask for a refund when they can see these are suitable options.

Userlevel 3
This is something that really annoys me about Ovo!!!!!!!!!

You're happy to have 100's of pounds in credit, essentially my money in YOUR account! But do you chase me to decrease my Direct Debit or proactively offer rebates! Not a chance!

As soon as you're out of pocket by a tiny amount you're like a tramp on chips, chasing me to increase my DD and then no doubt will up my payments for me, just cos you're that thoughtful!

The balance will even out in the spring/summer months so leave me alone and leave my payments amount as it is. If not I'll just switch!

Wow! Calm down please.
I am happy to get 3% credit interest on my money that is held by OVO. I can't get that anywhere else.
The system does a calculation and based on recent usage and time left, it calculates how much it thinks you need to end up at that elusive nil balance.
I have not found it badly wrong. At present with a very cold snap recent usage for us all is high, so there is a real danger of many people ending their year with a big outstanding balance, and then getting upset because they don't have that much to pay it all at once.
This is something that really annoys me about Ovo!!!!!!!!!

You're happy to have 100's of pounds in credit, essentially my money in YOUR account! But do you chase me to decrease my Direct Debit or proactively offer rebates! Not a chance!

As soon as you're out of pocket by a tiny amount you're like a tramp on chips, chasing me to increase my DD and then no doubt will up my payments for me, just cos you're that thoughtful!

The balance will even out in the spring/summer months so leave me alone and leave my payments amount as it is. If not I'll just switch!
Userlevel 3
Yeh well like i said OVO make out they are cheaper when in reality they aren't. If i find i am paying the same i will move back to British Gas, and yeh I have insulation
Just a point that has not been made yet:
How much you pay OVO per month compared to British Gas is not the point at issue. The only reason to swap is that the TARIFF is cheaper. If you use far more actual gas and electricity even on a cheaper tariff, you could still end up paying more.
Userlevel 5
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Great topic idea @Transparent. Feel free to create one!