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'We've had to correct your balance' email received - why have I been sent this and where is the new bill?

  • 29 December 2021
  • 23 replies
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Userlevel 7

Updated on 05/01/2021 by Tim_OVO: parts of this post have been moderated. 

 

Did you send me an email this afternoon?

Here’s the email:

 

 

The claim that Ovo might discover a “technical error” in my account, 3 weeks after my switch to another supplier was completed, but before refunding me the final credit balance is ludicrous. Ovo have already sent the final statement, and I’m sure the standard promise to refund the credit balance within 10 working days will be adhered to.

 

 

 

 

Apologies for the tone of this post, but I passed the point of no return a long time ago.

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Best answer by Tim_OVO 30 December 2021, 12:26

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Userlevel 7

Following the suggestion in the email, sent 9 hours ago, I checked my balance. I just checked again, and it hasn’t changed from the balance on my final statement (up to 21st Dec):

10 working days after that statement date will fall a week tomorrow. That’s when the refund will become overdue.

Or will Ovo manage to prepare the promised “longer bill” that will, among other things document the extent of the errors in their billing system?

Because sure as eggs is eggs, if Ovo have got my bill wrong, they will have made the same mistakes in a lot of other customers bills. As @Transparent  has observed, for one.

It’s not like some customers haven’t been screaming (metaphorically, at least) at Ovo, on here, for months now, that their bills don’t make sense, after all...

Userlevel 1

Hello Simon,

You are not on your own with this  issue; I also received an email from Ovo yesterday (brilliant timing - smack in the middle of Christmas) advising that due to a `”technical error” they were adjusting my balance by a massive -GBP97! 

I have not received my “longer bill” explaining why so I decided to call Ovo’s Customer Service” in the hope this could be clearly explained. I sopke with someone called “Jack” who asked me to read the email I had received, to him, and then he went on to say, ‘well it was a human error (not technical) and mistakes happen, right!” And Jack’s attitude was less than cordial. 

Apparently, there are “a number” of people effected by this “technical error” - I hope those effected read this as the more people complain, the better. 

I’m reasonably OK as I HAD credit in my account, but I feel for those who don’t.

Before I gave up on Jack, I asked him whether this ‘technical error’ was anything to do with the massive increase in wholesale gas prices, which he assured me it wasn’t - really!

I’m taking my complain to the Energy Ombudsman as to depleat people’s account without clearly supporting it with an explanation, is frankly not in accordance to their:-  Codeof Conduct - slide 11. How we hold ourselves to account Doing the right thing means taking responsibility for the outcomes of our actions and behaviours - good and bad - and communicating them fairly.

Really! I call taking money out of someone’s account before clarifying clearly why they are doing it and in Christmas week, is daylight robbery. Shame on you Ovo - Bah humbug,

I wish I was leaving Ovo with you Simon. sadly I’m tied in for another 15 months.

Userlevel 7

Update: I’ve just been emailed a revised bill for the month to 21 Nov 2021. The only change has been in the charge for gas. The metered volume is the same, but the conversion to kWh has changed by 4.03% in their favour.

The new closing balance is £125.52 instead of £127.83 on the old bill.

Evidence (which I have yet to review) of undercharging so far? £2.31

I’m still waiting to receive any explanation of the remaining £159.69 of the claimed £162 undercharging. That’s one month down, 23 to go…

I’m waiting for the revised bill to appear online. So far I’ve only received it as an email attachment.

Spot the irony: this was the month for which I posted daily updates, on here, of Ovo’s claims about my usage and account balance. At the start, I promised to challenge Ovo to explain their billed amount, when it came, even if it was correct, because on the evidence I’d seen, I didn’t think Ovo was capable of doing the sums correctly. At the end of the month, I quantified the error, and said it was “obviously” not less than £1.96, but to be quite honest by that stage I was losing the will to live and didn’t do the detailed calculation. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ovo have now, 5 weeks after the end of that billing month, got around to making the calculation as I explained it should be done, and found the answer is £2.31.

It is actually a very plausible result, but I’ll wait before rushing to check it, because I’m more interested to see how they came up with that total undercharging of £162: Do the mistakes go all the way back to the first month, in which the smart meter was installed??

More later, I’m sure.

Best Wishes (and sympathy) to all who remain Ovo customers.

PS My first step, yesterday, was to make an official complaint to Ovo. They need to be allowed to go through their complaints procedure before we can go to the Ombudsman, as @Transparent has explained.

PPS I wonder how Ovo are looking forward to the possibility of having to defend themselves against (more?) criticisms of their inability to charge customers correctly. Will their attempts to recover claimed underpayments, going back who knows how long, be regarded as reasonable? I really wonder if they will, given the continued attempts by customers (including me) to explain to them where they were going  wrong.

PPPS Very interesting comments, @Engery , about “human error” vs. “technical error” by Customer Support person Jack. Indeed, mistakes happen, but sometimes the one making the mistake has to bear the cost of their error.

Userlevel 7

Thanks for sharing the latest with your OVO account on the forum, @Simon1D @Engery.

 

I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been affected by a issue that’s prompted this email about amended charges. It’s true that this has affected multiple accounts, but if you’ve been contacted, your account will have been reviewed and amended. As part of our fix for this error, you’ll be getting a longer bill, including a summary of your energy charges going back a year or more. So you can be confident of the charges outlined and the resulting account balance. 

 

I appreciate that if the recent changes have resulted in higher charges than before, you might well be surprised and unhappy about this. I probably would be too. I’d like to use this opportunity to assure readers that our Support Team are on hand to help as best as they can with this account specific issue. We have a tried and tested escalation process to help members who feel their issue isn’t resolved at the first point of contact. Full process outlined here

 

I’d also like to remind forum members that this is a space intended for community members to knowledge share and help each other with questions they’re best placed to help with, to remind members of our guidelines with regards to the language they use, and any advice they offer without access to member accounts (full T&Cs here). 

 

Hope this helps, 

Tim 

Userlevel 3

I had that same email yesterday saying that My Account balance was actually £37 lower than it should have been due to a “technical error”.

I thought it was in connection with a problem I have flagged up with them regarding Estimated readings being used even though I always provide manual readings on the 18th of the month. Since September my bill gives You Gave on 18th of month followed by Estimated reading a bit higher on exactly the same date. My guess is that they’re estimating what my reading would be at midnight of the 18th.

So far I have received by email an updated Bill covering September to December but when I compare it with the bills I downloaded and saved each month, they are exactly the same! My Balance is also exactly the same.

So I have no idea what exactly is going on. I’ve been with Ovo since 2014 and Bills have always been correct based on my actual manual readings every month.

Userlevel 7

See comment in the other thread here.

I am beginning to think there might be another error in the system that handles corrections to billing errors - its calculation of the overall change in the balance is wrong. In my case, that error seems to be a factor of 70: the change in the account balancde is not £162, it’s £2.31

Give me strength...

Userlevel 3

See comment in the other thread here.

I am beginning to think there might be another error in the system that handles corrections to billing errors - its calculation of the overall change in the balance is wrong. In my case, that error seems to be a factor of 70: the change in the account balancde is not £162, it’s £2.31

Give me strength...

Yes I read it thanks.

I don’t actually think there is a problem with any of my Bills as far as being correct is concerned.

My issue is about using estimated readings for Opening and Closing even though I give a manual reading on the 18th of each month just as I have done for years. Up till September that reading was what was used for Opening and Closing readings. Now I get an estimate of what was used on the 18th which is a little higher than the reading I gave - I suspect it is basing that on what time I submitted the reading on the 18th and then adding a bit on to reach midnight. That estimate is what they then use as the opening read on the 19th.

From that I would say that my Bills are correct and based on my readings. I just want an explanation of why it’s then estimated when it didn’t do that before. It’s almost like they are trying to push me into having a smart meter.

Userlevel 7

I would agree, @Jem16 that to insist on making an estimate for the last few hours would be really odd, but maybe that’s just what Ovo’s new billing system does…

The shorter the period for which Ovo estimates usage, the smaller the error should be. So one would hope that a customer-provided reading just a few hours before the crucial midnight would be very helpful.

Userlevel 3

I would agree, @Jem16 that to insist on making an estimate for the last few hours would be really odd, but maybe that’s just what Ovo’s new billing system does…

The shorter the period for which Ovo estimates usage, the smaller the error should be. So one would hope that a customer-provided reading just a few hours before the crucial midnight would be very helpful.


When did their new billing system start? I thought I was moved over to their new system over a year ago - ie the one where it does a daily balance even though it doesn’t make a lot of sense when you’re on a non smart meter. This issue with estimates only started in September of this year. My Dad’s account has the same issue ( and same time period) too although he has not so far received the “technical error” email.

Userlevel 7

I would agree, @Jem16 that to insist on making an estimate for the last few hours would be really odd, but maybe that’s just what Ovo’s new billing system does…

The shorter the period for which Ovo estimates usage, the smaller the error should be. So one would hope that a customer-provided reading just a few hours before the crucial midnight would be very helpful.


When did their new billing system start? I thought I was moved over to their new system over a year ago - ie the one where it does a daily balance even though it doesn’t make a lot of sense when you’re on a non smart meter. This issue with estimates only started in September of this year. My Dad’s account has the same issue ( and same time period) too although he has not so far received the “technical error” email.

Good question. I was moved over in June last year, but it wouldn’t surprise me if migrating 100,000s of customers still involves a non-trivial manual effort and this effort is spread over months if not years.

FWIW, I think the “technical issue” might only arise if there are missing smart meter readings and, if your Dad’s account doesn’t have that problem, there may be no email because the “technical issue” doesn’t arise.

Userlevel 3

I would agree, @Jem16 that to insist on making an estimate for the last few hours would be really odd, but maybe that’s just what Ovo’s new billing system does…

The shorter the period for which Ovo estimates usage, the smaller the error should be. So one would hope that a customer-provided reading just a few hours before the crucial midnight would be very helpful.


When did their new billing system start? I thought I was moved over to their new system over a year ago - ie the one where it does a daily balance even though it doesn’t make a lot of sense when you’re on a non smart meter. This issue with estimates only started in September of this year. My Dad’s account has the same issue ( and same time period) too although he has not so far received the “technical error” email.

 

FWIW, I think the “technical issue” might only arise if there are missing smart meter readings and, if your Dad’s account doesn’t have that problem, there may be no email because the “technical issue” doesn’t arise.

 

Dad doesn’t have a smart meter nor do I. Whatever the technical error issue is it’s not smart meter related as far as I’m concerned.

Userlevel 7

Yes, @Jem16 I think I should probably have remembered that from earlier comments in the thread - sorry.

I must stop trying to second guess what might be causing Ovo’s problems. Sometimes they defy attempts at rational analysis. It would be unhelpful of me to say more than that.

Userlevel 7

With apologies, I’m afraid I won’t be going quietly on this one. Here is a chronology (it’s a bit selective, but only for the sake of drawing out the key points):

In this post dating back 4 months, I presented an analysis of the negative daily gas usage that Ovo was showing me from time to time. I pointed out that it happened when they were getting the first  nightly smart meter reading after a gap of one or more missing readings. I actually pointed out that their usage was wrong precisely under those circumstances, although it didn’t always lead to a negative usage - sometimes it was just wrong (and usually low).

I’ve just looked again at my gas usage in the app, and those days are precisely the ones that have been updated. I conclude that Ovo have actually fixed the bug I was diagnosing for them 4 months ago.

In fact, the error in daily usage estimation seems to have been fixed between 28 Oct (which is the last time I saw one of these missing readings trigger such an underestimate of daily gas usage) and 12 Nov (when there was a missing reading but, delightfully, the estimated daily gas usage was consistent with the smart meter readings that they did have, just as it used to be in the more distant past).

If there is a difference between the negative usage values in August and in October, it is that my statement for the period ending on 21 August priced the gas at an effective CV of 39.1998 MJ/m^3 (which is so plausible that I can’t be bothered to do the day by day analysis which might verify that national grid CV is being correctly used: the point is that the wrong estimates of daily usage were NOT used, but the meter readings WERE used).

In contrast, my original statement for the period ending 21 November, the one that has now been revised, that statement priced the gas at an effective CV of 37.7968 MJ/m^3, which is still above the legal lower limit, but is lower than the national grid value for any day in that billing month. This convinces me that betwen late August and November, Ovo changed their billing system so that it made use of daily usage in a way that it didn’t previously.

The fact that those daily usage figures were wrong, and I had already explained on here that they were wrong and how they should be estimating daily usage when the smart meter readings are not available means that I have very little sympathy with pleas that the correction of a “technical error” justifies adjusting the account balance of customers who have been affected.

Ovo should not have changed their billing system, in the way that they did, between August and November: they had already been presented with evidence of the problems in daily usage figures (posts in this forum going back many months - and from plenty of customers aside from me). Evidence which they ignored.

The “icing on the cake” as far as I am concerned, is the insult of sending me (and others) an email, between Christmas and New Year, informing me that owing to a “technical error” my account balance had been changed, by an amount which is VASTLY bigger than the error which affected my November statement.

That email is the subject of my official complaint, and it will be going as far as the Ombudsman if Ovo persist in their attempt to recover the cost of THEIR AVOIDABLE ERROR from affected customers, including me (even though in my case the amount being recovered is the princely sum of £2.31).

With this post, I expect to be moderated away from here. Never mind - “I have the receipts” in the form of screenshot(s).

Userlevel 1

I’d like to Thank all who have commented in this forum topic, including Tim_OVO as his pointof what this Forum is supposed to be used for, is valid. However, in light that OVO include a field to discuss ‘My Account’, I have to say that I was grateful to read Simon1D issue, and the subsequant comments added to it. It helped me understand some more points so as far as I’m concerened, this forum did it’s job. Although I will follow Tim’s guidance and raise a formal complaint to OVO about their handling of this matter.

I did also recieve an official bill yesterday covering Sept. to Dec. and I have to say I would rather have read War and Peace. The end result is still not clear to me as, my balance appears to have not changed! What was this all about then? Admitedly, I haven’t gone through the bill with a fine tooth comb yet as, I have a life, but I will as I want to understand whether my account will indeed be reduced by the GBP97 OVO claims I owe to them, for their mistake! And likley, if it is, will be dropped on me on New Years Day; just because they can and why not, as they have already caused me unnecessary grief by their initial bombshell email 3 days ago.

Just to clarify to all concerned, I do not have a smart meter; I work in the electronics industry and work closely with many of the global OEM’s that design and make these. I am therefore well aware of the ‘technical issues’ surrounding this technology, which is software not hardware, although I doubt these issues are what has caused the billing issues raised by OVO this week. I suspect this to be a software accounting issue, which as we all know, is inputted by humans.

@Tim_OVO, I appreciated your professional and customer-centric response; I do recommend additional training to Jack who’s attitude on our call yesterday fuelled my frustration in this matter. The evidence will be in the recording of that call.

I wish you all a safe, healthy and Happy New Year, irrespective of your energy provider. :-)

Userlevel 7

Good morning and a very happy new years eve to you @Simon1D and anyone reading this on the 31st December. 

 

For any other readers who might’ve been sent an email about a corrective account balance, please see the advice I’ve given here in case it helps:

 

I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been effected by a issue that’s prompted this email about amended charges. It’s true that this has effected multiple accounts, but if you’ve been contacted, your account will have been reviewed and amended. As part of our fix for this error, you’ll be getting a longer bill, including a summary of your energy charges going back a year or more. So you can be confident of the charges outlined and the resulting account balance. 

 

I appreciate that if the recent changes have resulted in higher charges than before, you might well be surprised and unhappy about this. I probably would be too. I’d like to use this opportunity to assure readers that our Support Team are on hand to help as best as they can with this account specific issue. We have a tried and tested escalation process to help members who feel their issue isn’t resolved at the first point of contact. Full process outlined here

 

 

@Simon1D as usual you’ve presented your findings in a methodical way, I can’t spot a sweeping generalisation which has the potential to misadvise or alarm readers, so there’s certainly no need for me to refer to our guidelines and moderate your comment. :) I’ll be passing this onto the same Orion team that have been in communication with you earlier in the year.  

 

Jem16 has confirmed that they don’t have a smart meter, which to me highlights the variety of factors to consider here. It highlights to me that us members (and me here on our forum) aren’t always in a position to know what’s happened under the hood to different member accounts. Let’s try and avoid speaking with certainty when we’re dealing with account specific aspects. Or in the words of a very clever scientist I know:

 

I must stop trying to second guess what might be causing Ovo’s problems. 

 

One day I have aspirations of this free to use online platform being a hub for OVO members and non members to have access to, and the ability to share their own, priceless, first hand experiences of green technology for the homes of 2022 and beyond. We see signs of this happening already and it’s truly wonderful to see. Surmising isn’t required for this valuable knowledge sharing.

 

OVO need to get things right for its members first though. It’s not a surprise if an email like the one Simon got has people wanting to talk about it. So that’s why if you’ve been effected by this recent corrective billing, and you have any concerns, our Support Team are here to help.

 

Happy new year to all,

Tim

Userlevel 7

Thanks, @Tim_OVO and a (slightly early) happy new year to you too.

I will add a more positive comment, that I have found the exchanges here on your forum to be overwhelmingly useful and interesting, even if I’m not (yet?) in a position to contribute much towards the greener things that we could all be doing, and the ways that energy suppliers might enable that.

Being open to a wider community than Ovo customers makes this forum, potentially, a much more significant force than it might otherwise be. Not that I’m thinking of any particular closed forums that other energy supply companies might host ... ;-)

Seasonal greetings to @Jess_OVO and whoever else might be reading stuff on here today

Cheers

Userlevel 3

I did also recieve an official bill yesterday covering Sept. to Dec. and I have to say I would rather have read War and Peace. The end result is still not clear to me as, my balance appears to have not changed!


Exactly the same for me. My new bill covering September to December is exactly the same as the old bills which I had already received prior to this odd email saying my balance has been reduced by £37. Makes no sense to me either.

I notice that you don’t have a smart meter either. Does you recent bills from September to December also use this odd Estimated Reading covering a few hours from the time you entered your meter reading to midnight on the same day? I’m guessing a bit on this midnight thing as it appears to be the only explanation of the odd behaviour in my bills and that of my Dad’s.

Userlevel 7

...

I did also recieve an official bill yesterday covering Sept. to Dec. and I have to say I would rather have read War and Peace. The end result is still not clear to me as, my balance appears to have not changed! What was this all about then?

...

It’s odd, isn’t it, @Engery?

The evidence mounts that, not only have Ovo fixed a bug in their billing system, but that the system-generated email recently sent to affected customers included an estimate of the correction amount that was spectacularly wrong. If it turns out to be an error in the calculation used to create that email, then that is another kind of problem altogether, and as much a matter of management as of mere calculations.

Userlevel 3

 

 

Jem16 has confirmed that they don’t have a smart meter, which to me highlights the variety of factors to consider here. 

 

 


All I can say is that I’m glad I don’t have a smart meter as it appears that the most of the problems are being caused by incorrect or missing smart meter readings.

For me it appears that my issue is being caused by a change to the billing system which seems to want a reading exactly at midnight as in smart meter territory. It’s a bit like the new My Account which now shows a daily balance. Obviously this is fine for those with smart meters but totally pointless for me as the only time it can be totally accurate is when I input my regular monthly reading. At all other times it’s wrong as it can only deduct the Standing Charge and not the amount of energy being used. At least before September my bills weren’t based on estimates but based on actual readings. Now they are being based on actual readings with a bit of guesswork added on for a few hours. This really isn’t progress.​​​​​​​

Userlevel 1

Thank you to all for your collective inputs and insights. Alas my problem continues, as I have just seen my account balance has reduced (again), so I need to spend more time tracking back where this has all gone pear shaped.

Wish me luck.

Userlevel 7

Thank you to all for your collective inputs and insights. Alas my problem continues, as I have just seen my account balance has reduced (again), so I need to spend more time tracking back where this has all gone pear shaped.

Wish me luck.

Good luck and best wishes

Userlevel 7

 

 Alas my problem continues, as I have just seen my account balance has reduced (again), so I need to spend more time tracking back where this has all gone pear shaped.

 

Sorry to hear things are still not resolved, @Engery. Once you’ve received an updated bill following this email, your account balance should only be reducing in line with your up-to date charges which you can check on the ‘Billing’ tab of your online account or OVO app (download for Android or iOS).

 

If something doesn’t add up between your billing tab and the account balance shown on your Homepage, we’d recommend highlighting this one to the Support Team, who can investigate this with full access to your account history.

 

I’m hoping the team can help get things worked out ASAP for you - Do pop back and let us know how you get on. :slight_smile:

 

 

Userlevel 7

An explanation of what was behind the email from Ovo that caused such confusion between Christmas and New Year, the one that prompted this post from me. Their email said my account had been corrected by £162, which was just very strange.

It turns out that Ovo had compared the opening balance on the last bill before the correction with the closing balance on the first bill after the correction. So, their figure included up to two months consumption.

Instead, Ovo should have compared the closing balance on the earlier bill with the opening balance on the later bill. Under normal circumstances these are identical, but on this occasion they differed, but by just £2.31.

It took a GDPR subject access request (one that I had actually submitted a month previously, and to which I only yesterday got the response) to understand what had happened. I wonder if anyone at Ovo yet understands?

Buried in the response to my SAR is an internal memo that says:

This account was affected by a consumption issue (incident IDs were REDACTED and REDACTED). This led to a recalculation of charges on the account. The new calculation is
shown to customers in long bills being sent out, following the long bill with these corrections the customer should expect to receive regular length bills.
The closing balance on the previous bill that the customer received was £235. The change in the customer balance between their previous bill and the correction of the issue
was £73 - note that this change includes new regular energy charges and payments and is not the amount that the charges were changed due to the incident. The balance of
their next bill will reflect further transactions between this correction and the bill date.

[Actually that’s a mistake - £235 was the opening balance.]

Comparing that internal memo with an email I got from Ovo support when I complained at the time, I assume those redacted incident IDs are these (I’m quoting the email I was sent, with no indication that this was sensitive information, so I feel confident in sharing here):

“… These two issues are known to us as KIM-317 and KIM-355, which i understand to yourself doesn't have much meaning ...”

Here are the relevant bills:

this has a closing balance before the correction was made

and

this has an opening balance after the correction has been applied

That is what prompted Ovo to send me (and a lot of other customers) an email informing me that my balance had been adjusted. It was true, the balance had been adjusted, but they simply miscalculated the amount by which it had been adjusted.

Who knows what the consequences of that slip might have been, in the case of customers in a more precarious financial position than the one I have the good fortune to enjoy?

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