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How can I correct a ghost "meter reading" which has lead to an unnecessary Direct Debit increase?


Hi any ideas on how to get a response from OVO here? They emailed me on 22 Aug saying they will increase my direct debit from £ 125 to….. £ 380!

Some investigation revealed this alarming increase appears to be caused by an OVO error. The electricity meter reading history page on the website shows a reading of 79927 marked "Manual" on 9 July. No meter reader attended the house. We don't have a smart meter. This meter reading is incorrect. See attached image.

My electricity reading was actually 75313.

I emailed hello@ovoenergy.com and they asked for a meter photo which I sent. I got a reply to that saying “I am writing to tell you I have submitted your Electric meter read and it was successful. You will also see these readings on your online account and the balance will be up to date in 24 hours.” Regrettably that did not happen and a large direct debit was taken. This was reversed by my bank, so no issues there.

Latest on this is that I emailed a reply with a request to remove the ghost reading on 21 Sept and no reply received. We’re approaching another month when the same thing is going to happen - OVO will take the wrong amount again and I am going to get it reversed.

How can I get this mistake corrected?

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Best answer by Jess_OVO 6 October 2021, 11:23

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Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Hey there @maidbloke !

That’s rather unusual but there’s also a pretty large number of estimated readings as well - you may want to try and get manual readings in more often to help avoid this in future.

Probably the best thing I can recommend right now is OVO’s Complaints Process, this is the fastest way to get an issue like this resolved and will likely get a response within five working days.

Hope this helps!

Userlevel 7

Hi @maidbloke and Welcome to the OVO online community!

 

This is a strange one! Not seen a ghost reading appearing like this before and it’s really disappointing to hear this has led to an erroneous Direct Debit increase. Any time an up-to date meter reading is entered it should correct any previous incorrect readings so it’s worth finding about today’s readings and contacting the Support Team, who’ll be able to override this out-of-line reading. Whilst you of course can raise this as a complaint as @Blastoise186 suggests, I’m hoping the team should be able to get things resolved without the need to escalate things further - the quickest way to reach the team is via our Online Chat which you can access on this page.

 

Do let us know how the team gets things sorted, it’s really helpful to other who might have a similar issue in future.

 

Also worth mentioning here, the best way to make sure your readings are up-to date and accurate is to think about getting a Smart meter installed - click here to find out more. :slight_smile:

Thanks Jess. I tried the online chat as you suggested and appear to have made some progress. Here’s the end of the conversation:

 

Business said
so we need to get rid of the incorrect read

You said
Yes please and reset DD payments to what they were - £125

Business said
this has now been raised #

You said
What do you mean by "raised" please?

Business said
so ive had to raise this as a case to get the meter read moved and re billed

You said
OK so what happens next?

Business said
then we will email you when it has been sorted

You said
OK roughly when might I expect that?

Business said
end of the week

You said
Cool thanks for your help Zahra

Business said
its fine, is there anything else i can help you with today

You said
No thanks

Business said
have a lovely day

 

It’s a shame we as customers don’t get to contact people who can actually make changes. I’ll try to keep this thread updated with what happens next.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Good to hear you’ve got some progress there then!

I think it’s worth noting that the first line Support Team that you normally get through to can action certain changes almost immediately, such as submitting a meter reading on your behalf, initiating a refund, adding/removing secondary contacts and quite a lot of other things - especially those which you can do via self-service and a few more besides.

Most of the things that have to be escalated are things where it would otherwise result in you being kept on hold for too long to be considered reasonable, or where someone else needs to take a deeper look (often the case if things need to be escalated to other teams).

But there are times when a particular request could go either way. I think most of these are probably requests that can usually be handled immediately, but something is preventing it from being fulfilled and more time is needed to find out what’s going on and resolve it. It’s actually quite normal for these kinds of workflows and playbooks to be set up in ways that are somewhat like this example.

Probably one of the best examples I can think of is when you request a refund. While it is indeed possible to approve a refund in a matter of seconds, there’s a lot of back office processes that need to run in order to complete it, and if you add in the latency caused by the banking systems in general… That’s why it can take several days for the refund to actually reach your bank account.

That’s all fair enough, Blastoise186, but I suspect Zahra’s raised note is now with the same team that was replying to my emails about this last month and have had since 21 September to…..

take a deeper look

…..but appear to have done nothing with it. I suspect today’s chat will get me no further but fingers crossed I am wrong.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

No worries. These things can take time, but OVO tries to resolve them as quickly as possible, with a maximum target time of six weeks or 45 days. If you feel you’re not getting anywhere though, feel free to use OVO’s Complaints Process. It’s very well established and will often get a pretty quick response. And if you still don’t get a resolution after eight weeks of using that process (or you reach Deadlock with OVO), you’re entitled to take the complaint up with the Energy Ombudsman. I don’t think you’ll need to do that, but I like to provide the details anyway, just in case. If you do end up going down that route, OVO will respond to the Ombudsman and attempt to resolve things that way - but you’ll need to try and resolve it with OVO first as otherwise the Ombudsman will refuse to intervene.

Email has always been the slowest contact option though, by the very nature that OVO - like just about any other company - often gets swamped with loads of them and it takes time to read every single email in the queue and decide on how to respond. You’ll often get a faster response via phone or live chat if you need help more quickly. Email is best for times when you don’t mind waiting a while and it’s low priority. :)

I can give you an example of something I’ve experienced as well actually. I switched from SSE to OVO around this time last year because I knew that I would have been migrated eventually anyway and the deals on offer with OVO were better than SSE. I’d already had a SMETS1 Smart Meter from SSE at the time (an Aclara SGM1311) that was working fine with SSE, but wasn’t technically compatible with OVO. Except that this was around the time that SMETS1 Smart Meters were starting to be migrated to DCC so that they would work across ALL suppliers and not just a select few. Mine just happened to be one of the first S1 Aclara meters to go through that process. Except, that it kinda broke somehow and never fully reconnected.

OVO really did throw basically everything but the kitchen sink at it across several months to get things working, but it was unrecoverable and I ultimately had it replaced with an S2 Aclara SGM1411-B which is working a lot better. Except that my account had gotten pretty badly messed up with an extremely rare bug (that could only possibly happen to me) which basically caused a whole bunch of gaps in my billing history and broke the entire system, among a few other things - it was literally escalated pretty much as high as it could go as well. OVO’s Billing Ops Team actually said that they’d never even seen anything like it before and that it was a pretty good learning experience for them since they really had to dig deep to figure out what was happening.

It’s all been fixed since then however, and I think everything that broke my account has been documented so that if it ever happens again to anyone else, it can be fixed a lot more quickly. Admittedly, it took pretty much an entire year to get my account completely fixed up, but this was an extremely rare edge case with a whole bunch of factors that hardly anyone else could possibly have all at once. After all, if anyone’s going to break MyOVO, there’s a very good chance I can do it somehow with an ingenious trick or two.

Userlevel 7

I’m so sorry that your erroneous meter reading was not corrected when initially highlighted to the team via email, @maidbloke.

 

I’d like the opportunity to look into this one further for you so look out for a PM from me requesting some account details.

 

Hope we can help get this sorted. :slight_smile:

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

May I just observe that there two distinct issues being discussed here.

@maidblokehas pointed to an erroneous ‘reading’. That can be corrected.

The setting of the Direct Debit is separate to this. The amount of DD requested by OVO is set by analysing a trend over a period of time. The algorithm isn’t known to us customers, but we can be sure that it looks back over previous months and derives an adjustment (plus or minus) which must be applied in order to bring the account in balance by the end of contract.

Depending on how this calculation is done and what weighting is given to the ‘adjustment’ it may not be the case that applying a correction will adequately affect the DD being requested.

In the case here, @maidbloke may not see the requested DD simply revert to £125.

The advantage of having a Smart Meter is that there are daily meter readings taken. Any erroneous reading for a day therefore applies 30-times less bias to the DD calculation than happens with a monthly figure.

Smart Meters don’t guarantee a complete set of accurate readings. There may be times when the communication link doesn’t operate, for example.

But they do provide a richer data-set which can be used to make any required corrections. When things go wrong, that’s very useful!

Thanks Jess, I have replied to your PM.

@Transparent Not sure whether a smart meter would have made any difference here. My guess is that someone has typed in a meter reading into a system and got a digit wrong in the account number and that’s how it ended up on my account.

Ever since the wrong reading appeared the “Send electricity reading” function has not believed my readings. This is what I see.

As you can see the website spots that my reading is lower than the incorrect one (79927)…...but then displays an estimated reading, making the error message nonsense. It’s all rather embarrassing.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Thanks @maidbloke  - yes it’s embarrassing; I’ve experienced this situation myself, but not recently.

The Billing System is being developed in-house by OVO’s sister company, Kaluza. They continue to adjust the software in order to better cope with anomalies such as you have pointed out.

And I agree with you about a typo being the cause. I spotted the incorrect digit for 9th July.

When a similar situation occurred with my account I continued to send in regular meter readings by email for several months. Email is good for this because it retains a record of what information was given with a date/time stamp.

I don’t know how a correction is added to the current version of the Billing System for a non-Smart meter, but we can be sure that it’s not just a case of replacing the July reading with the correct one. That would lose the record of the error.

I can see how corrections are made for Smart Meters, and it’s messy. They seem to apply a negative reading for a day. Ie the true reading for that day has been splatted with another incorrect figure in order to ‘restore’ the balance. Yuch!

There are several other discussion topics here on the Forum (such as this one) in which us customers are delving deeply into the cumulative meter readings and analysing what’s gone wrong. So you are certainly not alone in this!

However, it remains the case that the formula for calculating a DD may still not apply ‘human logic’ when looking at your billing history, even once a manual correction has been applied. I just wanted to alert you that you should not be overly-hopeful of a new estimate immediately reverting the demand to £125 !

The key issues are

  • keep your DD payments going, and challenge OVO if they attempt to change it whilst your complaint is still ‘live’
  • keep supplying meter readings. You could even try doing it more regularly than once per month because this might force the DD-calculation to catch up with getting the trend analysed more quickly!

… and I still recommend a Smart Meter by the way :slight_smile:

  • keep your DD payments going

No. They are billing me for electricity I have not used. My bank happily reversed the £ 380 direct debit  they took last month.

I’m not necessarily expecting the monthly charge to return to £ 125. I am, however, expecting it to accurately reflect what I am using.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

OVO shouldn’t be taking a different DD amount without first writing to state that it requires changing. That’s the time to challenge/complain.

The point I was trying to make was that you shouldn’t simply cancel the DD instruction to your bank. Having a DD Mandate in place is a requirement of your contract.

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