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I didn't receive an OVO bill years - How can I get help with the large outstanding balance?


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I am so disappointed and saddened by ovo, in a nutshell I have just come out of a controlling marriage . I have took over the bills in Aug 2020 when I realised the gas and electric hadn't been paid for 6 years . I immediately set up a direct debit explained my situation . They now want to Increase my direct debit to 859 a month good luck with that when I only earn 1200 a month. I have sent endless letters and emails . Everytime I am told to ring collections but I can't get them to answer.  I don't know where else to turn so I have complained to the energy Ombudsman .  They allowed this debt to Increase over 6 years so the least they can do is let me pay back at a comfortable rate. They ignore my letters this is really worrying me now

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Best answer by Jeffus 21 March 2022, 18:22

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I am so disappointed and saddened by ovo, in a nutshell I have just come out of a controlling marriage . I have took over the bills in Aug 2020 when I realised the gas and electric hadn't been paid for 6 years . I immediately set up a direct debit explained my situation . They now want to Increase my direct debit to 859 a month good luck with that when I only earn 1200 a month. I have sent endless letters and emails . Everytime I am told to ring collections but I can't get them to answer.  I don't know where else to turn so I have complained to the energy Ombudsman .  They allowed this debt to Increase over 6 years so the least they can do is let me pay back at a comfortable rate. They ignore my letters this is really worrying me now

I am no expert in these matters @Barney21 

Was the bill originally in your name? If not this may help. Whether it is standard practice i don't know, but clearly possible as i have seen other similar examples with different suppliers. 

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-3839728/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Npower-debt-collectors-chasing-husband-s-bills-left.html

I also know when my dad died, his debts died with him including a utility bill which my mum didn't have to pay. 

Whether that was the energy company being compassionate i don't honestly know. But clearly there is flexibility for different situations where bills are in a partners name. 

These are not ovo examples but i would hope ovo have compassonate ways of handling this sort of situation @Jess_OVO ?

 

Userlevel 7

Hi @Barney21 and thanks for sharing this experience with us here. I want to help as best I can. 

 

I’ve been able to contact our Collections team using this number:  0800 0699 831. I’d recommend you ring them when you’re free to discuss your options. They’re open till 6pm on week days. They should be able to work with you to make sure the account balance is for energy you’re responsible for and that the repayment rates are manageable. 

 

You’ve called out contacting the Energy Ombudsmen. I wanted to highlight here that if the cause of your complaint has been raised to OVO within the last 8 weeks, the Ombudsman may ask you to try and resolve this directly with OVO first. For more info on our complaints process, see here

 

We’ve recently made some great online resources to help members with price cap rises. See this page here for more info on that. For lots of advice and support with your energy payments, go here

 

Need more help and advice?

For free, independent advice on debt, energy costs, and other areas where you might need support, these organisations and charities can also help: 

  • Citizens Advice - visit your local branch, or their websites: for England and Wales and for Scotland. You can speak to an advisor online, in person, or over the phone: 0800 144 8848 (England), 0800 702 2020 (Wales), and 0800 028 1456 (Scotland). 
  • National Debtline - call 0808 808 4000 or visit their website.
  • Step Change Debt Charity - call 0800 138 1111 or visit their website
  • Civil Legal Advice - call 0845 345 4 345 for free, confidential legal advice in England and Wales, if you’re eligible for legal aid. Find out if you are here.

If you have a negative balance of more than £150 and you’re unable to pay your energy bill, you might qualify for a one-off payment from our OVO Energy Fund.

 

Hope this helps,
Tim

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Hi its not a recent complaint been going on for 2 years now, I cannot get an explanation of why no duel paid for 6 years and they didn't seem to know until I got in touch . More fool me for trying to sort as there is no compromise the debt was allowed to accumulate with no action taken.  Now I'm expected to pay a minimum of 368 a month on a wage of 1300 . I cannot get no help as I work 

 

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@Barney21  As @Jeffus has set out, a key factor will be what name the account was in for those 6 years. Did you change the name on the account when you set up the DD in 2020?

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Hi its not a recent complaint been going on for 2 years now, I cannot get an explanation of why no duel paid for 6 years and they didn't seem to know until I got in touch . More fool me for trying to sort as there is no compromise the debt was allowed to accumulate with no action taken.  Now I'm expected to pay a minimum of 368 a month on a wage of 1300 . I cannot get no help as I work 

 

Clearly i don't have all the information. 

1. If the bills were not in your name as far as i know you are not liable.

2. If you didn't receive bills for 6 years you are not liable. They can only back bill up to 12 months. There is a letter on the citizens advice website you can use.

I would recommend getting all your information together and talking to citizens advice about these two points.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/problems-with-your-energy-bill/you-havent-received-a-gas-or-electricity-bill-in-a-while/#:~:text=If%20you%20haven't%20received%20an%20accurate%20gas%20or%20electricity,more%20than%2012%20months%20ago.

 

Alternatively Thisismoney also often take up cases if you feel you feel this might help

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1585631/This-Money-Contact-thisismoney-uk-email-phone.html

It is important to find out if ovo has done anything unlawful in the first instance, then get them to remove that proportion of the debt and ask for compensation. Of course i don't have all the details of who's name the debt was in and what happened to the bills for 6 years.

Your first post said 859 a month ovo bill  and 1200 income, your last post said 368 a month ovo bill and 1300 income. Was the bill reduction as a result of speaking to ovo recently? What did ovo change? 

Userlevel 1

I don't want to go into to much detail as its very distressing the duel fuel bills HVe always been in my name . I wasn't allowed access to our bank accounts .  It's only after escaping the situation I found out no payments had been made for 6 years. I have tried to negotiate a comfortable payment plan with ovo but they only agreed to 368 a month sorry typo before I earn 1300 a month unfortunately the direct debit failed now they want 859 a month I was comfortably paying 250 a month but they won't accept it .  I have been in touch with citizens advice and they are referring me to a specialist unit that deals with energy debt

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I don't want to go into to much detail as its very distressing the duel fuel bills HVe always been in my name . I wasn't allowed access to our bank accounts .  It's only after escaping the situation I found out no payments had been made for 6 years. I have tried to negotiate a comfortable payment plan with ovo but they only agreed to 368 a month sorry typo before I earn 1300 a month unfortunately the direct debit failed now they want 859 a month I was comfortably paying 250 a month but they won't accept it .  I have been in touch with citizens advice and they are referring me to a specialist unit that deals with energy debt

I can appreciate it is hard. I hope citizens advice can help, clearly 859 is unaffordable whatever the circumstances. You don't have to answer, just trying to help. 

In the 6 years, did ovo send you any bills? 

Sadly energy bills have gone up which will only be adding to the monthly amount ovo are asking for.

Feel free to post again if you think any of us can help. Good luck. 

Userlevel 1

Hi 

I do appreciate the help no I didn't receive any bills to my email address like I do now.  Looking back the meters were swapped in 2014 to smart meters which should have been pay as you go . This didn't happen and normal meters were fitted . No balance was owed at this point I'm not sure what has gone wrong but something clearly has 

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Hi 

I do appreciate the help no I didn't receive any bills to my email address like I do now.  Looking back the meters were swapped in 2014 to smart meters which should have been pay as you go . This didn't happen and normal meters were fitted . No balance was owed at this point I'm not sure what has gone wrong but something clearly has 

OK. For the moment lets put to one side the issue with the incorrect meter and the issue with you not receiving any bills. 

So after smart meters were fitted in 2014 you didn't receive any bills for some time. 

1. What date did you receive the first bill after 2014? 

2.. How far back did OVO bill you on that first bill you actually received? 

 

 

Userlevel 1

Hi the first bill I received was 27th Aug 2020 and it says starting balance 6126..00 nothing before then 

Wendy

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Sorry just looked again it says migrated balance?

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I have a number to ring them tomorrow thanks for all the help

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Hi @Barney21 and thanks for sharing this experience with us here. I want to help as best I can. 

 

I’ve been able to contact our Collections team using this number:  0800 0699 831. I’d recommend you ring them when you’re free to discuss your options. They’re open till 6pm on week days. They should be able to work with you to make sure the account balance is for energy you’re responsible for and that the repayment rates are manageable. 

 

You’ve called out contacting the Energy Ombudsmen. I wanted to highlight here that if the cause of your complaint has been raised to OVO within the last 8 weeks, the Ombudsman may ask you to try and resolve this directly with OVO first. For more info on our complaints process, see here

 

We’ve recently made some great online resources to help members with price cap rises. See this page here for more info on that. For lots of advice and support with your energy payments, go here

 

Need more help and advice?

For free, independent advice on debt, energy costs, and other areas where you might need support, these organisations and charities can also help: 

  • Citizens Advice - visit your local branch, or their websites: for England and Wales and for Scotland. You can speak to an advisor online, in person, or over the phone: 0800 144 8848 (England), 0800 702 2020 (Wales), and 0800 028 1456 (Scotland). 
  • National Debtline - call 0808 808 4000 or visit their website.
  • Step Change Debt Charity - call 0800 138 1111 or visit their website
  • Civil Legal Advice - call 0845 345 4 345 for free, confidential legal advice in England and Wales, if you’re eligible for legal aid. Find out if you are here.

If you have a negative balance of more than £150 and you’re unable to pay your energy bill, you might qualify for a one-off payment from our OVO Energy Fund.

 

Hope this helps,
Tim

 

Hi the first bill I received was 27th Aug 2020 and it says starting balance 6126..00 nothing before then 

Wendy

OK. I would discuss all this with the Citizens advice team you have already been referred to and OVO. Citizens Advice will be use to this sort of query as per their website. 

Of course this is all based on my limited questions so see what Citizens advice say. 

As you say the account has always been in your name so there is a debt of some sort you are liable for. 

The first bill you actually received you say  was 27th August 2020. It would be useful to know if OVO think they actually sent you any bills before then, it doesn't sound like they think they have sent you a prior bill but I didn't explicitly ask you that. 

OVO can only back bill you 12 months energy on that first bill unless you have done something fraudulent like wiring the meter to steal gas or electricity, or not letting someone read the meters for example. It doesn't sound like you have done anything fraudulent. You have just been in an abusive relationship. 

A debt of 6126 sounds more than 12 months energy. Making a educated assumption, the period between 2014 and 2020 is 6 years as you said. Lets assume for the moment that the 6126 is for 6 years energy. Let's assume the preceding 12 months was a 6th of 6126, so 1021.

1021 would be the most OVO could charge you for the energy as they are only able to go back 12 months. OVO may be able to confirm what the cost of the 12 months energy actually was given it is a smart meter.

Of course you are liable for subsequent energy usage and as i am sure you are aware energy has gone up recently.

Just to say again this is based on limited information, so you would need to discuss further with Citizens Advice and OVO to see if it applies.

Good luck, feel free to ask anything else and let us know how you get on. 

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@Jeffus Just to say I agree with your viewpoint. If the first bill was August 2020 then this can only cover usage from August 2019 onwards. I think it also needs to show an attempt at billing for specific dates rather than a statement amount, so it may be that the billable period is less.

Good luck @Barney21 

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@Jeffus Just to say I agree with your viewpoint. If the first bill was August 2020 then this can only cover usage from August 2019 onwards. I think it also needs to show an attempt at billing for specific dates rather than a statement amount, so it may be that the billable period is less.

Good luck @Barney21 

Yep. Always difficult to know with a snapshot of information exactly what has gone on. I hope my thoughts prove helpful. 

What i am particularly concerned about is that on the face of it OVO thought it  acceptable to ask for a direct debit of 859 for someone they knew earned 1300. If this turns out to be true i find that very troubling. I would really hope there were safeguards in place so that doesn't happen.

I have always been curious about this forum in general. Here on the face of it is a vulnerable person. Personally i would hope @Tim_OVO  or @Jess_OVO step in and PM the poster and see if they can ascertain what has gone on and if any help can be given. Just a personal view as the official channels for customers are I appreciate elsewhere and many people get into issues with their bills

Userlevel 1

Thank you for all your help and advice it means a lot to have someone listen as I feel have been banging my head against a brick wall. I have kept a copy of all correspondence and replies sent and received . Hopefully I will be able to move forward with the citizens advice help

Userlevel 7

Hi @Barney21,

 

I agree with @Jeffus and someone from the OVO_Forum_Support team has reached out to you via a private message to offer some help and advice. Please reply when you get a chance. 

 

 

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Thanks Tim!

It’s probably worth mentioning that Tim and Jess prefer to avoid getting too deep over intervening directly themselves, but it has been known to happen a few times in certain unique circumstances. To me, it looks like the user OVO_Forum_Support has been created to handle those cases. I didn’t even know it existed until just now! :)

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Thank you I have replied to their message

Userlevel 1

Had private messages first one offering to help second one telling me to ring collections no explanation  as to what's happened for 6 years  collection team refuse to give me a affordable payment its got to be paid back over two years

.I totally give up now I will leave it to the energy Ombudsman and citizens advice. I will definitely be leaving ovo once Bill paid may take me years but I will be gone at first opportunity they have no empathy or understanding .

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Hmm… That’s not quite the response I was expecting.

Let me summon @Tim_OVO again. He’s on his own this week running the show on the OVO Forum, so he might not be able to respond again today, but he’ll be back when he can.

Userlevel 7

Please refer to the advice our OVO_Forum_Support team have given, @Barney21. I really do understand your point of view and it must be so frustrating and perhaps a bit worrying having this debt amount and not being sure what to do. Really am sorry. 

 

We’ll need to follow the process, as there’s a reason we can’t offer account specific advice when the complaint has reached the stage that it has. I can’t go into too much detail in this public thread but we’ve outlined why via that private message. 

 

Really hope you get a good and speedy outcome,

Tim

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Let's hope the energy Ombudsman have more empathy and compassion for a domestic abuse survivor than ovo has . I should never have had to take this to them all I asked for was help and support!

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Maybe the energy Ombudsman process is different to other Ombudsman. I can certainly say the FOS (Financial Ombudsman) doesn't force their complaints process to be completed. It is possible for the consumer and the company to come up with a way forward. I am curious in general terms about what specifically stops OVO if that is the case. Is there a legal regulation on the Ombudsman website that OVO could post on this forum? I may have misunderstood of course. 

I remain a little troubled about the general process for working with vulnerable people. Obviously i don't know all the specifics of this case. One of my adopted brothers has severe metal health issues, has recently been under the support of the NHS suicide crisis team and is an OVO customer, i recently paid off all his outstanding OVO debt. I only mention as there are an awful lot of vulnerable people out there not because of anything OVO did. I fear things are only going to get worse generally. I just really hope OVO are beefing up their processes, resources and training, and critically have flexible enough processes in the short term while any complaints are worked through. Sadly people with mental health issues can all too easily become overwhelmed with issues like this. 

I hope OVO and @Barney21 work something out over the next few weeks that works for both parties. I appreciate it is not easy. 

 

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