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I feel like my Direct Debit Check In is totally unfair, why has it increased?


Has anyone else had a continual ongoing battle with ovo to try and stop endless price increases? so far my 'fixed rate' dd payments have increased from £76 pcm to their current estimate of £293 pcm... for a small 3 bed semi!!! any suggestions about how to prevent my impending bankruptcy at the hands of ovo energy? TIA.

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Best answer by Darran_OVO 29 March 2019, 15:06

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Userlevel 7

Thank you for such thoughtful and considered feedback, @Jeffus.

 

I think you’ve raised a really important point and I’m going to make sure this one is passed on to the team behind these communications.

 

Removing the complexity of the energy industry and making your energy account easier to manage and understand is a vital in our journey to Plan Zero, so getting things right from the very first email we send is key. 

 

As always it’s so nice to see this community providing a space for these discussions - keep up the great valuable contributions! :slight_smile:

Userlevel 6
Badge +1

Glad to hear that you’re finding this community helpful, @Jeffus - we’re working hard here to provide a platform for valuable discussions and peer-peer support.

 

Whilst we might not always get things right, by allowing a space for issues to be raised publicly, we can take this feedback on board and hopefully provide advice for others who might have similar issues in future.

 

I totally appreciate the confusion surrounding the term ‘fixed’ when referring to your plan, @Anne_6JC - whilst it’s a standard industry term and no energy providers now provide a ‘fixed Direct Debit’ type energy plan, we have already amended the wording of our welcome emails to make our Direct Debit review policy clearer -

 

Direct Debit

We work out your Direct Debit amount by dividing the cost of the energy we think you’ll use in a year by 12. That means your Direct Debit will be £44 a month.

We’ll run regular Direct Debit reviews to make sure this amount matches your energy use. This is to protect you from paying too little and building up debt. Or having to pay a lump sum of debt in the future.

I think that helps, but i think it would also benefit from a statement just after this. Rightly or wrongly some people may not get down to the updated statement. Something more explicit that says your direct debit payments are not fixed and may go up or down depending on how much energy you actually use. 

It is still too easy for a cohort of the population to misunderstand i personally think. I suspect my disabled brother may misunderstand if he looked at it for example. And i am not sure my adopted brother would pick up the statement you have changed. 

-----------

Your plan
Better Smart
£xxxx a year inc. VAT
£xx a month
Fixed for 12 months

 

Userlevel 7

Glad to hear that you’re finding this community helpful, @Jeffus - we’re working hard here to provide a platform for valuable discussions and peer-peer support.

 

Whilst we might not always get things right, by allowing a space for issues to be raised publicly, we can take this feedback on board and hopefully provide advice for others who might have similar issues in future.

 

I totally appreciate the confusion surrounding the term ‘fixed’ when referring to your plan, @Anne_6JC - whilst it’s a standard industry term and no energy providers now provide a ‘fixed Direct Debit’ type energy plan, we have already amended the wording of our welcome emails to make our Direct Debit review policy clearer -

 

Direct Debit

We work out your Direct Debit amount by dividing the cost of the energy we think you’ll use in a year by 12. That means your Direct Debit will be £44 a month.

We’ll run regular Direct Debit reviews to make sure this amount matches your energy use. This is to protect you from paying too little and building up debt. Or having to pay a lump sum of debt in the future.

Userlevel 6
Badge +1

@Jeffus excellent comment. Exactly!

Would be better if OVO  put the energy (pardon the pun) into providing the customer with clear terms and conditions of their contracts rather than providingchoochy forums to complain about them

I never read the detailed terms and conditions and only skim read the email and checked the meter IDs. So i can't honestly say anything about the terms and conditions either way. 

I do agree the email is poorly worded, obviously i don't know what you actually received from OVO. 

I may not agree with everything posted on this forum, but i do find it useful background info myself and there are many posters (both ovo employees and customers like ourselves) who i find very informative and helpful. 

 

@Jeffus excellent comment. Exactly!

Would be better if OVO  put the energy (pardon the pun) into providing the customer with clear terms and conditions of their contracts rather than providingchoochy forums to complain about them

Userlevel 6
Badge +1

Just looking back this is the contents of the welcome email i received from Ovo. 

Putting aside any prior knowledge of how energy bills work. 

There are quite a few mentions of "fixed". 

It doesn't actually say there will be any review over the 12 months based on actual energy consumption which may cause the direct debits to go up and down. There may be further info in the attachments that came with the email, but i didn't look at them at the time, and important information should really be in the email itself rather than in any attachment small print. 

It is interesting as my mum was on a fixed cost energy plan for several years, irrespective of the amount of energy she actually used. A few providers offered these plans for a few years. I haven't seen anything like that since then. 

I was aware the direct debits could change based on energy use so i didn't notice the ovo wording. 

Just MHO, the email is very poorly worded. Not everyone would be able to deduce the direct debit was variable based on usage over the 12 months if they didn't have prior knowledge about how the plan works and the meaning of fixed.  It may seem like common sense, but the variable nature of the direct debit should really be made obvious in the email 

 

--------------

Welcome to OVO Energy

OVO Energy Logo

Account Number: xxxx

Your journey to zero carbon starts now

Hi xxxx

Thank you for choosing OVO.

We’re on a mission to fight the climate crisis using green energy and technology all with the help of members like you.

Ready? Let’s go!

Your switch at a glance
Your plan: Better Smart

You're getting: 100% renewable electricity as standard and a carbon-busting tree planted in your name every year

Your start date: xxxxx

Your first Direct Debit: £xx on xxxxx

Important check

Now’s the time to make sure we have the right meter details for your home. If they’re wrong even by 1 digit we could end up switching the wrong person.

MPAN for electricity
Xxxxxx
MPRN for gas
Xxxxx


Please check that these numbers match yours by looking at the top of an old bill (you won’t find them on your meters). If they don’t, please call us right away.

Your plan
Better Smart
£xxxx a year inc. VAT
£xx a month
Fixed for 12 months

 
Electricity
Gas

Unit rate:
Xxxxp/kWh
Xxxxxp/kWh

Standing charge:
Xxxxxp/da
Xxxxp/da

Plan length:
Fixed for 12 months

End Date:
Xxxx
Xxxxx

Exit fees:
£xx
£xx

The unit rates and standing charges in this table include 5% VAT. See our terms and conditions.

We’ve attached your Plan Overview and Tariff Information, so you can read all the details. If you spot something that doesn’t look quite right, please call us within 7 working days.

What next?

Today - Sign up to your account
Just sign up to your account online with your email address and create a password.

Your switch progress
We’ll drop you an email to let you know how the switch is going.

Xxx – Opening meter readings
We’ll ask for your first meter readings.

Xxx – Your start date
We’ll begin powering your home and take your first Direct Debit (either on this day or the next available working day).

Your year of energy
We’ve estimated your energy use over the next 12 months and what it will cost you on Better Smart.

Electricity
Gas
XxxkWh
XxxkWh
Xxx
Xxx

Estimates include VAT but exclude any add-ons, discounts and the Warm Home Discount, if you’re eligible.

Direct Debit
We work out your Direct Debit amount by dividing the cost of the energy we think you’ll use in a year by 12. That means your Direct Debit will be £xx a month.

If your Direct Debit payments fail on Simpler Energy, or you or your bank cancels them, you’ll start paying the higher On Demand rates instead. We’ll let you know before this happens, to give you the chance to set up the Direct Debit again and avoid paying more.

Priority Services Register (PSR)
If you or someone in your household needs extra support for medical reasons or otherwise there’s lots we can do to help. From giving notice about planned power cuts, to creating large-print or braille bills.

Find out more about PSR.

Get your questions answered
You’ve got lots of ways to do that:

Chat to us via our online chat (Monday to Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 9am-1pm)

Check out our online Help pages

Or ask other members on the OVO Forum

If you can't find what you're looking for online, just give us a call on 0330 303 5063 (Monday to Friday 8am-6pm).

Megawatts of love
The OVO Team

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Userlevel 6
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I’m wondering if there’s a bit of thinking at cross-purposes here?

And, before I say anything further, where there’s a misunderstanding, it is overwhelmingly likely that the misunderstood communication has been ambiguously or confusingly expressed. If that’s the problem here, I would look to Ovo to improve how they explain their fixed price contracts.

My understanding is ...

Fixed rate contracts set a fixed price for the energy that hasn’t yet been supplied.

The contract also requires an arrangement (direct debit) for regular monthly customer payments that are “fixed”, but this not in the same sense as Ovo’s price is fixed. Someone (often the customer, especially if they’re not a returning customer) has forecast usage over the contracted period and on this basis Ovo calculate a reasonable monthly amount to pay.

So, if usage turns out very different from what was forecast, Ovo can, quite reasonably, require a change in that “fixed” monthly payment. Unless it was Ovo that made the forecast -  arguably that would be a very different situation.

Things get much more awkward if that difference is between forecast usage and Ovo’s estimate of the usage. Especially when it’s a stupid estimate. Even more so if the customer has evidence that the estimates are wrong.

I’m saying no more.

Thanks for your feedback but as a consumer it is in my view misleading and completely unacceptable  to send me a contract stating a monthly amount which will be fixed for a year and then increase it by 50pc within 3 months when the account is in credit  I would have chosen a cheaper provider had I known OVO would do this.

If your team does not revert the direct debit within 5 days I will cancel my account, move to another supplier and broadcast about this deplorably shabby experience on social media to ensure other customers are not similarly fooled.

Userlevel 7

I’m really sorry to hear of the unexpected increase to your Direct Debit payments and the stress and concern this has caused, @Anne_6JC.

 

Our community volunteer has given some great advice as to the reasoning behind these increased payments and I’ve moved your post over to a similar thread as there’s some helpful advice in the ‘Best Answer’ above:

 

 

If you’re a Pay monthly customer on a fixed plan, you’ll pay for your energy by a Direct Debit, a month in advance. This is set up when you first join and amount you pay will be calculated based on the information you give before you switch. It’s worth mentioning that the ‘fixed’ part of your plan refers to the price per unit and the daily standing charge which don’t change. 

However as the amount you use may change, we’ll regularly check that your monthly payment amount is enough to cover your energy costs and leave you with a clear balance at the end of your plan. 

Check out our Direct Debit “check in” process here or watch the video below for more info -

 

 

 

 

You can check your current Direct Debit amount and adjust this if needed on the ‘Payments’ page of your online account or OVO app (download for Android or iOS) -

 

 

Exact appearance may vary

 

There’s also some really helpful advice here in understanding the calculation we carry out when checking your Direct Debit amount -

 

Exact appearance may vary

 

The more information we have about the energy you use, the more accurate our Direct Debit predictions will become. If you haven’t got one already we’d recommend upgrading to a Smart Meter for the most accurate usage projections.

 

If something doesn’t seem right or you are struggling to afford the suggested Direct Debit amount, reach out to the Support Team, who can check the sums and may be able to help signpost additional support.

 

I’m also disappointed to hear of the trouble you’ve had when contacting the team to discuss this further. If you’ve emailed to raise a complaint, a member of the team should get back to you within 5 working days to take this further.

 

In the meantime it’s worth having a look at your online account - here you can check the meter readings we’ve used to calculate your charges, make top-up payments and check out the Direct Debit calculator.

 

I hope this information helps and the team get back to you shortly.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

I understand where you’re coming from, but please bear in mind what I mentioned.

However, as you’ve used the complaints process, someone from the Complaints Team should get back to you within five working days - but it’ll probably be faster than that. OVO aims to get these things sorted out pretty quickly but you’ll have to either wait for eight weeks or for the complaint to reach Deadlock before you can call in the Energy Ombudsman.

Hopefully you won’t need to though, since OVO is pretty good at resolving complaints long before that point. I’ll leave it at that for now as I can’t intervene anyway.

I’m told that OVO recently upgraded their phone system, so I can only apologise if you got hit by a problem that somehow dropped the call. There is actually a callback feature that you can use if needed - it usually triggers if the system thinks you’ll be waiting more than 90 seconds and presents the option to be called back directly as soon as someone is free. I’ve used it loads of times and it’s extremely reliable. OVO will even pay for the call so you don’t have to.

Live Chat tends to be a lot faster though. You’ll often get a sub six second response time that way and I think most chats are answered within 90 seconds.

Thank you for your reply but this is unbelievable. I have a confirmation that I will have a monthly payment of £44 fixed for a year and within 3 months the company has welched on this agreement and hiked the amount by 50%. I could have found a much cheaper deal if I knew this would happen.

I have better things to do than waste my time waiting on interminably for call centres to end up being cut off. I raised a complaint, I hope someone will get back to me or it's the Ombudsman. I'd say it's a joke but it's not funny.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Hey there @Anne_6JC ! Welcome to the OVO Forum. :)

I just wanted to give you a quick heads up that as a forum volunteer, I can’t access your account or make any changes to it. This is why I won’t ask the usual security questions - please make sure not to share personal info as this is a public space.

I think it’s worth noting that while you are on a Fixed deal, it’s only the tariff rates that are fixed i.e. the Daily Standing Charges and Unit Rates. Your payments can still vary depending on your usage. If you end up using more energy than predicted, your payments may need to increase to cover the difference - but if you use less, your payments can drop to better reflect that too.

It sounds like you’ve recently had a Direct Debit Check-In run by OVO’s system and it detected a need to increase the payments to help you stay on track until the end of the contract. While you might be in credit now, the system is trying to make sure you don’t have a huge bill to pay at the end of the year. This is why your payments were likely increased.

If you take a look at the Direct Debit Calculator in MyOVO, you’ll be able to see how OVO figured this out. Please make sure you’re also putting in regular meter readings too - otherwise estimates are used which will rarely be accurate. Submitting an actual reading will override them however.

You can of course dispute this if you disagree. The best way to do so is via either Live Chat or Phone which you can do from the help centre. The office is now closing, but it’ll open again at 8am in the morning - and the pink Live Chat option will appear on that page if you visit it while the Support Team are open.

I hope this helps. We’ll be here if you need a hand with anything else.

Hi, I just got cut off from the helpdesk after waiting 15 minutes so I'll try here.

I have a contract from the 1st June saying that my bill will be GBP44 / month fixed for 1 year.

I received an email today saying that it will increase to GBP64 / month from 1st October. How can you justify a 45% monthly price hike when I have a fixed contract and my account is in credit?

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Hi @Ihateovo and welcome to the Forum.

This sounds very odd.

Since there is clearly a matter of dispute as to the amount that you were already paying by Direct Debit, your first recourse is to initiate the Complaints Procedure. You can also download the official Complaints Procedure guidance as a PDF.

OVO have an excellent record for resolving complaints before they reach the Ombudsman. They will respond initially within 5 days. If you’re still unhappy, they pass it to a more senior handler who can investigate further. They must conclude that second stage within 8 weeks.

Personally I always recommend using a standard email to lodge a complaint. Unlike the online form or telephone, you get to retain a date/time-stamped copy of what you wrote! This is important if you should later need to take your case to the Office of the Energy Ombudsman. You must be able to show that you have exhausted the Supplier’s own complaints processes.

Put the word “Complaint” within the subject line of the email, and for good measure, repeat it at the start of the body text.

If you wish, you may also stipulate that you require a response by email. OVO would normally reply first by telephone, but that again leaves you with no record of what was proposed. It’s entirely up to you.

 

I’m puzzled as to why the Staffer attempted to sell you a new Plan. This suggests that you are within 7 weeks of the end of your current contract. Is this the case?

Please comment again here if you would like any further advice or clarification. We are fellow-customers and have a wealth of experience between us.

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

@Ihateovo 

Welcome to the forum!

Sorry to hear your experience hasn’t been that great with OVO. The OVO employee was probably trying to help you by starting a new contract to give you the best deal. What was the outcome after your phone call? 

I am not an employee of OVO. I am happy to help on the forum where I can. But if you have cancelled your DD. Effectively, you are not paying for usage you are consuming. I am not sure what happens if OVO do not receive payment. The best I can do is tag a few OVO employees who may be able to assist.

@Tim_OVO @Amy_OVO @Eva_OVO @Nancy_OVO 

We recently received notification the our direct debit was to be increased to £194 a month from (we thought) £95 a month, the amount the bank had been paying. When we investigated our account it said they were raising it from £183. We have never paid this amount, as our bank statements testify. So effectively OVO is trying to double our payments with minimal notice. Initially we thought this was a scam and so telephoned to try to warn OVO. the young man we spoke to seemed to be more interested in trying to sell us a new plan than in even understanding, let alone solving our problem. Is there anyone at OVO who actually cares? We have temporarily asked the bank to suspend the direct debit.

Userlevel 6

If my estimated annual usage is 950 per annum, why is my direct debit 107 per month!!?? 

Hi @Agile 

What’s the current balance on the account? If it’s negative, you’ll need to pay this back and it’ll be factored into calculations.

Thanks

Userlevel 5

When does your contract end. The DD payment is set to clear any balance from winter by the end of the current contract. This can lead to DD payments that are higher than (annual usage/12)

Or it could be an error, OVO do seem to have some difficulties setting what seems like reasonable figures to many customers.

As OVO pay customers interest on credit that far exceeds anything from the banks over paying is an attractive savings scheme as long as the increased payments will not cause hardship.  (Technically it isn’t interest which might be taxable but a discount on the bill which is not taxed)





 

If my estimated annual usage is 950 per annum, why is my direct debit 107 per month!!?? 

Userlevel 1

Topgun50, NoiseMaker and tinytess,

I had similar problems to Topgun50, although not at such a high value, but very annoying non the less. Also I had a smart meter providing half hourly readings. After twelve months of unsatisfactory “explanations” I too voted with my feet.

Grandfather Maxwell

 

Shame, but not surprised about Ovo. I saw this coming from the moment I started with this company because if something seems too good to be true, it mostly is. Greed and profit before people as normal.

Userlevel 1

Topgun50, NoiseMaker and tinytess,

I had similar problems to Topgun50, although not at such a high value, but very annoying non the less. Also I had a smart meter providing half hourly readings. After twelve months of unsatisfactory “explanations” I too voted with my feet.

Grandfather Maxwell

 

Userlevel 1

I am now waving goodbye to Ovo for this very reason - after forcing my direct debit up ‘because i would not have sufficient credit etc etc. I ended up £850 in credit in one payment!! A quarter of my annual expenditure! I reset the dd based on last year and requested a £600 refund, still £350 in credit as next payment taken- same again though trying to force my dd up despite a full prediction from last 2 years to a level far higher than necessary. Luckily i can go and am this month! I shouldn’t have to be watching my account all the time constantly having to change the DDs to an acceptable level. So far every estimated reading has been far in excess of the previous period. Despite regular readings no matter what time of year! Bye Ovo

Do you have a smart meter by any chance?

I am now waving goodbye to Ovo for this very reason - after forcing my direct debit up ‘because i would not have sufficient credit etc etc. I ended up £850 in credit in one payment!! A quarter of my annual expenditure! I reset the dd based on last year and requested a £600 refund, still £350 in credit as next payment taken- same again though trying to force my dd up despite a full prediction from last 2 years to a level far higher than necessary. Luckily i can go and am this month! I shouldn’t have to be watching my account all the time constantly having to change the DDs to an acceptable level. So far every estimated reading has been far in excess of the previous period. Despite regular readings no matter what time of year! Bye Ovo

Userlevel 6

Check out the above thread, @tinytess, you’ll find lots of information regarding the Direct Debit review process. 

Thanks! 

I’ve got the same problem as you. Being asked to increase my Direct Debit. I’m on Economy 10 but  My bills for a small electric only 2-bed flat are almost three times other similar flats according to OVO charts.  I need to find out why this is as I totally  observe the off peak periods and only use dishwasher and washing machine during off peak.  Will try to get clarification from OVO.  

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