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Renewal time - Why was I only given the option of an eyewatering 2 year fix on my online account?

  • 31 October 2021
  • 13 replies
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Userlevel 2

So my 2 year fix is about to come to an end.  I was going to look elsewhere given that Ovo is no longer a cheaper option, and my smart meter experience was a disaster.  But I know in the current climate it’s probably best just to roll onto the standard variable tarrif for now, let the markets settle and use the protection of the government’s price cap to keep costs as low as possible.

Imagine my surprise when I logged on to find the ONLY tarrif I was being offered was a 2-year fix at £174/month.  Now given that Ovo knows my energy usage - low - I’m £200 in credit , and having raised my DD once this year you are talking about reducing it now, even as we approach winter, the obvious question:

Why on earth would I swap to a 2 year fix - I won’t make that mistake again with Ovo - and where are the details for your standard variable tarrif?  It’s almost like you are trying to force me onto another eye wateringly expensive tarrif. 

A quick look on the Bulb forum shows this is exactly what Bulb started doing early summer ...

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Best answer by Jess_OVO 1 November 2021, 13:46

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Hi @Melchett ,

Sorry to hear the trouble there, but I think there’s actually a solution here that’s easy to do.

If you don’t make any renewal choices, OVO will automatically switch you to the variable rate Simpler Energy tariff anyway by default at the end of your current contract. Even if it’s not showing up in your renewal options, that clause remains in effect anyway based on the contract terms that were active when you signed up so it remains valid. It’s a requirement set down by Ofgem and suppliers cannot override it. The only way to enter another fixed contract is with your explicit approval so you won’t be locked in again without your knowledge.

I can’t provide the Tariff Information Label as a forum volunteer unfortunately, since I don’t have access to your account and the rates vary depending on your area. If you check with the Support Team however, they’ll be able to discuss this with you.

This is the most current information I have at the moment as I’ve not heard otherwise.

Userlevel 2

Hi @Blastoise186 

Thanks for getting back to me.  Automatically rolling over to the standard variable tariff was pretty much what I figured would happen.  But the lack of information and the only visible tariff being a 2 year fix at almost double my current DD or nearly quadruple my recommended DD payment just smacks of a lack of transparency and treating customers fairly. 

Regardless of the market conditions I will need to see the TIL because given Ovo’s high standing charge it may well still be cheaper to move.   But more importantly, I like to think of myself as an informed customer rather than a passive consumer- I make it a point of principle in always knowing what I’m paying and never taking a company’s word without checking against my own personal circumstances.

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No worries. The market is pretty hard to predict right now, but I believe the Support Team can provide the details over the phone as that’s probably the easiest way you can get hold of the TIL right now.

It’s possible that the variable rate plans not showing up for renewals might be unintentional however. I’ll flag this up with @Tim_OVO and @Jess_OVO in case they’re able to help with that.

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I’ve been reading back through some of your old forum posts. I don’t think you’ve met me before.

When it comes to transparency, I’d argue that OVO is actually pretty good - and a lot more so than a lot of other suppliers. After all, this forum is public and anything that’s said here can be read by anyone. Anyone can post on here as well and get help too, even if they’re not with OVO. Hardly any suppliers do this - in fact I can only think of two others with a healthy community forum like this one.

You might want to hang around though, as there’s potentially more good things on the way which are definitely worth looking forward to.

Userlevel 7

Hi @Melchett,

 

Great point to raise here about the options you were shown on your online account or OVO app (download for Android or iOS) during your renewal. I’ve passed your comments on to the team as this doesn’t sound right. As our community volunteer, @Blastoise186 confirms:

 

 

If you don’t make any renewal choices, OVO will automatically switch you to the variable rate Simpler Energy tariff anyway by default at the end of your current contract.

 

You should have received an e-mail advising of the renewal options and current Simpler plan prices, however you can also view all the available plans by heading to this page - get back in touch if you can’t see the Simpler plan here as this would suggest there’s a technical bug with your account, which we might need to investigate further. 

 

I hope this helps get things sorted - do let us know if you need anymore renewal advice. 

Userlevel 2

Hi @Jess_OVO @Blastoise186 

Im afraid my suspicions appear to have been confirmed.  The Daily Telegraph has today listed Ovo along with BG, EDF and E.on as energy firms who seem to have a policy of either denying standard variable tariffs to new customers or not actively showing them as available but pushing expensive 2 year fixes.

 

This is in direct contravention to OFGEM regulations.  So unless I do just roll over to a standard variable tariff I think there will be a complaint going in.  
 

Really disappointed in Ovo.  You used to be really good value for money.  Then you became as expensive as the Big 6 as they were.  Now it seems you are just mimicking the worst practices of the original Big 6. 

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Hi.

I’ve already asked Jess to help out with this on a similar thread. She’s currently awaiting a response from the team which will be made available on the forum once it’s been provided. I’ll notify @Tim_OVO about this thread as well so he’s aware.

However, as I previously mentioned you will automatically roll over to the Standard Variable Rate tariff Simpler Energy at the end of your contract unless you explicitly renew onto anything else. This is compliant with the license terms from Ofgem and is part of the T&C OVO committed to when you originally signed up. That doesn’t necessarily mean all suppliers have to provide an SVT to new customers, but it is required for existing ones whose fixed term contracts expire.

If you’re still not seeing it in your options, it’s most likely just a visual bug. The Support Team can investigate and fix that, but only if they know about it. After all, OVO cannot fix bugs which are left undetected and unreported, hmm?

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Ok, I decided to have some fun last night before going to bed, so I’ve also had a quick play with OVO’s Quote & Switch tool just now, using my flat as the “potential customer”. Obviously, attempting to actually generate a quote for my flat would cause the system to pick up on my already active account, but I didn’t need to go that far to get the details I was after.

Attempting to select the option to pay without a Direct Debit currently asks you to call OVO to discuss your options over the phone, per the example below (you don’t need to enter any other details to do this).

Click the image to view full size

If however, you choose the second option, you’ll be redirected to OVO’s sister PAYG brand Boost, as OVO maintains unique brands for each side. I won’t show a screenshot here, but it’s easy to play with and get the same result.

The first option though, goes directly to OVO’s fixed rate deals, which most members will likely be familiar with if they signed up via the Quote & Switch tool. Again, not much need for any screenshots or anything else here. But my point is that OVO does at least provide the option of going down the  Standard Variable Tariff route right from the start, on the very first page if you choose option three. True, it does then prompt you to phone OVO to continue, but the option exists.

Unfortunately, I can’t back this up with historical snapshots from the Internet Archive, because the Wayback Machine struggles to capture anything under switch.ovoenergy.com reliably these days (it can’t handle the way the Q&S tool tries to load in). But if memory serves, OVO has done it this way for over a year now and it’s not because of the recent events in the market.

The only reason Simpler Energy doesn’t show up on the quote results via that route, is because choosing the first option means you’ve already indicated that you’re not looking for a variable rate tariff - otherwise you’d have probably chosen option three and been signposted to the Support Team or gone with option two and been signposted to Boost.

To be fair, it’s also possible that under normal circumstances, a lot of potential members considering OVO’s variable rate deals might not have internet access anyway and as a result would likely call the Support Team to sign up over the phone without even going to the website. I know quite a few people in my local area who fall into that group. It makes sense to allow for that, so as to not lock those people out completely.

Personally, I’d argue this is compliant with the rules, on the basis that you can get a variable rate tariff from OVO via at least one signup channel (and the others give you a heads up about it). It’s just that there’s nothing in the rules (that I could find anyway) which says a supplier must offer an SVT directly via all possible sign-up channels as long as there’s a way to get it via at least one of them.

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Hi @Blastoise186 and @Melchett there’s another thread on here somewhere about a three year fixed deal. It may be from a while ago, I can’t remember, but that isn’t offered now, just the two year ? Any idea why not ? 

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I think OVO generally prefers to keep things simple by only generally offering a single Standard Variable Tariff (Simpler Energy), a single One-Year Fixed Rate Tariff (Better Energy), a single Two-Year Fixed Rate Tariff (2 Year Fixed Energy), an EV specific tariff (currently OVO Drive/Drive+Anytime) and a loyalty deal (OVO Member Special).

The three year deal is new on me, but it seems to only be in certain cases. Either way, it’s way easier to compare OVO tariffs against each other than it is for most other suppliers. Especially since so many of them have a bazillion tariffs on offer at once!

I think that’s the thread you saw.

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That’s the one ! I like the sound of the OVO member special… How special do you have to be?

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Well, as it’s the loyalty offer, usually the OVO Member Special tariff becomes available as one of your renewal options when your contract is up for renewal. It’s not available at all to new members or mid-contract - you have to choose it at renewal if you want it. You will never find it on a comparison site either, as it exists only within MyOVO.

There’s no other special conditions attached to it for the most part. It’s generally said to be very similar to Better Energy, but with a slight discount. Sometimes it’s cheaper, sometimes it’s not. Obviously, you can also choose the regular Better Energy instead as all available options are presented to you at the same time.

I guess it might be temporarily paused right now due to market conditions, but it’ll probably be back in the future.

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Hi @Blastoise186 and @Melchett there’s another thread on here somewhere about a three year fixed deal. It may be from a while ago, I can’t remember, but that isn’t offered now, just the two year ? Any idea why not ? 

 

I’ve just double-checked this one, @juliamc - As our new 3 Year Fixed plan is only available for renewing members this might be why you’re not able to check the prices on this plan via our usual Quote and Switch page.

 

Once you reach the last 49 days of your current plan you should be able to view all the available plans via your online account or OVO app (download for Android or iOS) - As the prices on all our plans do vary over time it’s always advisable to wait until you’re able to renew before comparing your options.

 

Hope this helps explain.

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