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My recommended Direct Debit keeps changing - why?


Hey, I am liking OVO very much in general, so keep up the good work and all. There's just one thing: the recommended payment keeps going up and down, and I don't understand why.

I've had a smart meter for over a year, so there's plenty of data to work out our average usage, but even if I were a new customer, I would expect predictions to be based on similar households and so be fairly stable. What I wouldn't expect is for the recommended monthly payment to fluctuate wildly. I'd expect it to stay pretty consistent, the point being to smooth out the variation over the year.

Aside from giving feedback and general venting, I'd be really interested to know how the predicted spend is being calculated, and why it's giving such erratic results.
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Best answer by Tim_OVO 26 May 2017, 17:36

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Userlevel 7

Updated on 03/02/22 by Jess_OVO

 

For a helpful introduction to Direct Debit calculations watch the video below -

 

 

 

How do you calculate my Direct Debit when I first join?
 

When apply to switch to us, we’ll use your annual usage figures to calculate how much your energy will cost over the year, we’ll divide this into 12 - which gives us the recommended Direct Debit amount. You should be able to find out this annual usage figure from your current supplier, no worries if not - we can also base this calculation on average usage in your size of home. If you’ve moved in to an house we supply, we might also use previous usage data for your new home to help suggest a suitable starting figure. Either way this initial Direct Debit amount isn’t fixed, even if your price per unit won’t increase on your current plan. 
 

 

What’s a Direct Debit Check In?

 

As the amount you use may change, we’ll regularly check that the payment amount is enough to cover your energy costs and leave you with a clear balance at the end of your plan. As these calculations are carried out each month, based on your up-to-date usage, you may see the recommended amount fluctuate slightly month-to-month.

 

There is a helpful breakdown of how we work this out on your Direct Debit calculator which can be found on the ‘Payments’ page of your online account or OVO app (download for Android or iOS) - 

 

 

 

Is there any support available if I’m struggling to pay for my energy?

 

There is help available if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills – both from us here at OVO Energy and from government schemes and charities as well.  There are many ways we can help – such as setting up a payment plan for you, which spreads the cost of your energy to make it more manageable. If you want to find out about payment plans, you can request one online here – we’ll take you through what you need to do, and ask you for some details. Our dedicated team is also specially trained to support you. They can make sure you’re receiving any financial assistance from the government that you’re eligible for, and take you through payment support schemes that are available. 

 

You can find out more about these schemes and where to seek free, independent advice right here.

 

 

Still need help figuring out the sums, comment below and we’ll help work things out!

 

I am fed up with the recommended direct debit amount being lower that that which I am paying. This usually happens when I have built up a credit of twice that of my direct debit and 3 times more than my monthly usage cost. As a result I change it to a lesser amount and no sooner have I done that than the recommended direct debit amount increases again. The bank are going to think I have gone mad by changing it back and forth. I can tell that this must be some form of automation, as when I submit my meter reading your system initially tells me that I may have made a mistake because the usage is too small. Consumption can fluctuate for very genuine reasons and your system needs to take account of that.
Userlevel 7

I am fed up with the recommended direct debit amount being lower that that which I am paying. This usually happens when I have built up a credit of twice that of my direct debit and 3 times more than my monthly usage cost.

 


Hi @Ecomum

This is odd, and I'll tell you why: the recommended monthly payment will look at how much you use a year and try and find an amount that can stay the same all year round. This means building up credit in the summer and eating into it in the winter.

If MyOVO thinks that your meter reading is too low, it tells me that the annual usage figures we have are too big. But that wouldn't explain the low recommended Direct Debit amount.

Let's give your account a once over so we can check these figures out. Drop us a messages on webchat via the Help Centre.

Tim

 

My recommended DD keeps changing. It keeps going up and down, month by month. Last month it was suggested at £136, and we were paying £142 and had a credit balance of over £400. We left it at £142. This month's bill is £103, and they are now saying we should pay £154 with that threatening 'your DD is far too low'. We still have £334 credit. Their estimated yearly total comes to £138 per month. I do not understand how this algorithm is worked out, and why it changes so rapidly. I have had it changing within a few days. I do not intend to increase it, but it is annoying. Other than that I find OVO ok.

Userlevel 5

The recommended amount will constantly change,@ajrichards, it all depends on where you are in your monthly billing cycle. For example, if you’ve just paid your Direct Debit we’ll suggest a lower amount. Or if we’ve just generated a statement we may recommend a higher Direct Debit.

 

You won’t need to change the amount you pay unless we’ve asked you to do this!  :)

That is what makes no sense. If you are trying to plan, you want information set at a particular point in the month, based on up to date information. For example after you have generated a statement makes most sense to me. It then offsets usage against the DD. I don't find it at all helpful to have it shooting up and down throughout the month.

For some people it could be quite frightening, and also gives a misleading impression of the state of your account.

Userlevel 6

I’ll pass your feedback on, @ajrichards, as @Eva_OVO mentioned we will contact you if a change is needed, but we don’t want to mislead people.

Thanks!

This week I've received both an email & a text telling me that we need to increase our dd by £13 a month & if we don't OVO will do it for us. Every month our account is always at least £120 in credit so quite frankly don't see why I should, especially as I've never been able to get a credit out of them when we've bee massively in credit & all supposed criteria had been met.  Has anyone had their dd increased without their consent? Can OVO do this?  Thanks

Userlevel 7

Thanks for posting @Kelmc 

 

The link in the ‘best answer’ (here it is) outlines the calculation. 

 

As far as I know, it works out how much you need to pay, to get to £0 by your contract end date. At this time of year, that’s going to mean having a decent amount of credit, probably you’ll see this being eaten up as every winter month passes. In the summer, you’ll then be in overpayment mode, building up credit for the next winter, or the end of your contract. 

 

Let me know if this sounds like it applies to you. If you think there’s been an error, drop us a message on webchat instead, via the Help Centre.

I have had the same issue again this month. When I put my readings in on 8th Feb, it had no problem with the level of DD. A couple of days later before the monthly statement had been generated, it told me I was 'far below the recommended minimum' (I had reduced my DD from £142 to £133 at their suggestion this month) My balance is £248, and it is nearing the end of winter, My contract ends in April, I think, It is suggesting I should go up to £143. With next months DD I will be nearing £400 in credit. Even in the middle of winter my bill has never been near that. I really do not understand this, and it is annoying.

(Do not suggest a smart meter, My house is unsuitable what with meters in cellars etc)

Userlevel 6

This does sound odd, @ajrichards, putting in a reading wouldn’t auto adjust your balance, until the statement has been produced, so there shouldn’t have been a prompted check in, as there should have been no change in the balance. I’d recommend getting in touch with the team, they’ll be able to check things over. 

You can send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or webchat via the Help Centre. You can reach our team on: 0330 303 5063. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday to Friday.

Thanks! 

The message has gone away now. It was there for several days after I input the readings, and stayed there after the statement was generated, but the DD had not gone in. It was due on 8th, which was over a weekend. The DD went in on 10th but the message remained for a while and it went away shortly after. I will check it for next month.

Userlevel 2
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I have to say that I believe the algorithm behind the dd update is rather flawed. I joined OVO towards the end of last year and initially the recommended amount was baffling. I contacted OVO and they put my account on a ‘waver’ list to prevent any increase being applied. I have watched the recommended level of dd decline over the last 4 months and although it still shows an increase, it is 10 times less than the initial level. 
I wonder about those who are unable to query this and end up paying high levels unnecessarily. 
Generally the customer support has been good but these automated systems need some restrictions applied!

The algorithm is currently see-sawing between thinking I’m paying too little, immediately after I submit meter readings, and thinking I’m paying too much, once the DD comes off.

 

It seems that it needs to be a bit smarter than it is, to be useful, and not just a nuisance / potentially misleading.

 

I joined OVO just after the Summer, last year, and have solar PV… so, of course, it’s currently totally off with its DD calculation, anyway.

 

I’m hoping it will stabilise once into the first year of usage stats.

 

However, given it can’t seem to stabilise itself over the course of a single month, I’m not holding out much hope, currently.

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