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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

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. 

 

New customer - allocated to OVO when Economy turned over. First electricity bill in and getting message about how existing DD inadequate vs forecast usage and recommending a 45% increase (from £124 to £180). Whilst I think it might be likely there will need to be an increase, I am unable to adjust the amount to anything other than the £180 OVO recommends, even though the figure appears in an inviting box from which you can delete the default recommended figure.

Why do you not permit a flexible (ie customer chosen) amount for the change in DD?

I've read the explanations about how the DD is calculated (though the assumptions about energy use are the variable factor about which we might disagree and is why I would want to pay a different amount to what OVO recommends), but I am perplexed why OVO states that the balance needs to be "zero" at the end of the contract - why does OVO assume I will clear off to another supplier at the end of whatever period I originally signed up for? It doesn't say much about your confidence in being a competitive energy supplier. Instalment payments (ie Direct Debit) needs to be in balance with costs incurred over the long term, not over a possibly artificially shortened period dictated by the duration of the energy supply contract to which customers are currently signed up.
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:

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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).

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The OVO Team

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They've changed mine within 6 months to 50% more than I started claiming I need to pay more to cover even though I owe them £2 from usage after debits. Joke.
Userlevel 6
Take a look at the best answer, @Sparky70, this should help explain why we need to increase the Direct Debit (DD).

If the suggested amount isn't affordable, we can look at other options. The lowest we could set the DD would be £163 - if this still wasn't affordable we'd need you to get in touch with our Collections team on 0800 0699 831 they're available Monday-Thursday 8am-8pm, Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday 9am-2pm. You can also email them on collections@ovoenergy.com.

We don't assume you'll leave to another supplier, but your contract will come to an end and it needs to be paid up to date regardless of whether you renew with us.
Userlevel 1
Good evening Sparky70 and welcome from a kindred spirit. I too would like to see an answer to your questions instead of the frequent irrelevant waffle from the company "Standard Replies" book. If they request PM communication please ask them to publish the reply on the open forum so we all can read it.
When I signed up with OVO I provided my previous annual consumption (which has been fairly constant for the past many years) and they calculated a a direct debit monthly amount of £164. So I budget for this amount for the next twelve months. Now I am faced with almost monthly advice from OVO to increase this to over £200 per month to cover my anticipated increased consumption. I have electrical heating (storage radiators) which is switched off for several summer months and no air conditioning equipment in my 3 bedroom semi. I am at a loss to understand why and they do not provide a formula for calculating the proposed increase in direct debit which they are now going to enforce.
Which incidentally seems to conflict with their advice detailed in my previous posting. (1 month ago)
I feel that their concern that I might be in debt at the end of my twelve month contract could be more of a worry for them than for me. No company likes outstanding debt. I worked in the electricity supply industry and we went through a period when there was a current account cash flow problem and we had to use every means possible to collect in money from the customers (they were called consumers in those days) to keep the business going.
So Sparky70 I look forward, but not with much hope, to seeing detailed replies to the questions you have raised.
Grandfather Maxwell
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)





 

I was wondering why my direct debit review has increased the amount by £5 to make £105 since Ovo recommend I should only pay £10?
I keep overpaying on purpose as I find a regular payment more suitable to keep my finances in check, I have a large positive balance due to overpaying so why increase it?
I have stayed with Ovo for quite a few years now and even suggested them to others but I don't understand this review increase!
Userlevel 1

So Ovo can just play fast and loose with our money? When I first signed up with Ovo I said to my wife that this seems too good to be true. Seems I was right. Greed and profit abo e customers once again. If the regulator doesn't sort this then it opens the flood gates for profiteering companies to overcharge by small amounts and get away with it. Theft is theft. I'll be requesting Ovo look at my account history and adjust it properly.

 

Userlevel 1

NoiseMaker,

The link on the BBC site is:

www.bbc.co.uk/business-51292695

Grandfather Maxwell

 

Userlevel 1

Cheers. Found it before. Gross incompetence or theft. That's a big wedge to be a slight mistake. But then we don't make mistakes; we get results.

Userlevel 1

Hi @NoiseMaker @Grandfather Maxwell 

 

We don’t always get things right and accept Ofgem’s findings. We apologise to any members affected and can reassure you that all issues are now resolved. We hold ourselves to extremely high standards, and we have worked hard to put things right. 

 

More info on our blog post here
 

I'm sure you do, but never the less, it's not right that if potentially, thousands of customers who may have been overcharged by £9:99, they have to foot the bill. If I took £9:99 from someone without their permission that would be classed as  theft..... a criminal offence. OFGEM have got a nerve and basically put Ovo above the law imo.

Userlevel 1
Previous postings referred to “personalised replies”.

Hi@Grandfather Maxwell 

We don’t always get things right and accept Ofgem’s findings. We apologise to any members affected and can reassure you that all issues on affected accounts are now resolved. We hold ourselves to extremely high standards, and we have worked hard to put things right for our members. 

Thanks

Hi @NoiseMaker @Grandfather Maxwell 

 

We don’t always get things right and accept Ofgem’s findings. We apologise to any members affected and can reassure you that all issues are now resolved. We hold ourselves to extremely high standards, and we have worked hard to put things right. 

Glad to see you are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

 

Thanks for your response...I did go thro the Ombudsman and sadly got nowhere; left feeling that they were firmly on the side of the providers 🙄 the blame has been placed on my previous provider which is a tad ludicrous...hard to know where to turn other than seeking legal advice. It's such a game ☹
Userlevel 1

Constantly getting emails in winter to increase my DD, the last one threatened to increase it by force. Last year I was over £500 in credit and they didn't complain as this was in their accounts and creating profits for them. I've made top up payments to prevent going into debt, but they insist on increases despite the coming warmer season meaning I'll be well in credit. Perhaps they should take into account the changing temp conditions when calculating DDs and usage. Imo, I think this is done on purpose to create potential investment revenue.  

 

Totally agree with SBilly

 

 

Userlevel 6

I’ve moved your post here, @NoiseMaker, the above thread has lots of info regarding the Direct Debit process. If you can’t find the info you need above try here and here.

Thanks! 

Userlevel 1

I’ve moved your post here, @NoiseMaker, the above thread has lots of info regarding the Direct Debit process. If you can’t find the info you need above try here and here.

Thank you. Lots of info here. It would seem then that either ovo doesn't have a clue or they're bullying people to take in investment revenue like I suggested in my OP. I'm going for the latter. If they force an extortionate DD on me I'll go straight to legal representation. 

Thanks! 

 

Userlevel 1

NoiseMaker,

Good morning. I had a similar problem as you may see from my previous many postings on this site. To me it seems that the supply company want to keep their cash flow positive and do not want to have customers owing them money even though their customers signed up to spread the usage payments over twelve months.. I had plenty of excuses for changes to the Direct Debit but never understood why it had to alter when my annual consumption remains reasonably constant, although it does vary between winter and summer months. At the end of the contract I “voted with my feet” and hopefully the problem has gone away. If not I shall have to return to this Forum in a humbler mode.

Grandfather

At the beginning, Ovo seemed too good to be true. I said to my wife, Watch this space. After being with them for 12 months hassle free, problems started. I wasn't surprised. A major problem was when to send in meter readings. Not exactly rocket science, but they made a meal of it as they took for extortionate estimated readings. There's really no need for all the crap they're creating, but then that's greed and the profit monster for you. I'll be looking around near end of term unless Ovo buck up. NB: on the two occasions I've been in debit I've always made a top up payment immediately so never owed them anything. 

Userlevel 1
Thank you for the reply the logic for which I might understand if it were monthly readings based on my monthly statements. However it seems not to be: if you refer to these instances you will see Recommended DD payments changing on an almost daily time scale:

11 th May Recommended DD £208 Current Balance +£93.22
31 st May Recommended DD £448 Current Balance +£93.22

7 th June Recommended DD £389 Current Balance -£136.66
9 th June Recommended DD £417 Current Balance -£136.66
10 th June Recommended DD £100Current Balance -£136.66

9 th July Recommended DD £90 Current Balance +£161.20
11 th July Recommended DD £58 Current Balance +£161.20
15 th July Recommended DD £65 Current Balance +£161.20

17 th September Recommended DD £14 Current Balance +£248
26 th September Recommended DD £67 Current Balance +£248

If,
"It looks at what you've been using, what you are likely to use over the coming months (taking into account everyone uses more energy in winter),"
what variations are occurring in these short timescales?

As you may know I have been querying these anomalies with your Hello from Ovo team for many months with various assurances that, "it was a one off, will not happen again and increases are not recommended when accounts are in positive credit".

What triggered the above alterations to the Direct Debit recommendations?

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

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.

Userlevel 7
Hey @jassoi we don't usually look at customer direct debit amounts if they are in credit. I'd like to take a look at this so have sent you a private message to get some info.

Darran

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