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Why am I advised of cheaper plans (such as Lumo Energy plans) on my OVO monthly bill?

  • 11 December 2017
  • 21 replies
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Userlevel 1
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My latest OVO bill told me on page 1 that I could save £112.50 a year if I switched to the Lumo Energy App-Only Fixed tariff provided by OVO "sister brand" Lumo Energy. I visited Lumo's website and completed their questionnaire - which generated the message "The Lumo tariff is not yet available for your property". Come on OVO and Lumo! Get your act together and don't waste customers' time with spurious/irrelevant switch information. And while I'm on the subject of time-wasting comms from OVO, this week I received an OVO email inviting me to take up their Corgi Home Plan boiler offer. But I've already signed up for Corgi via OVO, so this offer is irrelevant. My basic point is that OVO needs to sharpen up its use of its customer database to ensure that customers only receive switch and marketing information that is relevant and useful to them.
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Best answer by Darran_OVO 12 December 2017, 16:35

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Userlevel 2
Ha - this made me laugh. I just had a chat with Ovo CS to ask what this Lumo thing was that alleged to be able to save me £100 on my gas bill, given that I get both gas and elec (i.e. dual fuel) but for elec I was pretty much on the best tariff apparently. So if I switch to Lumo for gas what happens to Better Energy for dual fuel? Unfathomable. So if they want us to be 'online only' they really do need to improve the quality and detail of such communications. In case anyone hasn't figured it out, you can ONLY get Lumo if you do not have a smart meter and agree to have one installed. Well that was enough to turn me off. Shame I had to do the research myself via the Lumo site to find that out. So my question re dual fuel becomes academic for me, but others may still want to know how that works! I assume in your case you are not in an area where smart meters are available (though goodness knows why that should be the case).
Userlevel 1
Hi G571, I'm glad I wasn't the only person who found the Lumo stuff irritating. In answer to the point you rightly raise about smart meters, I too read on the Lumo website that you can't have the Lumo app tariff if you already have a smart meter. The fact is that I already have OVO smart meters. Therefore OVO know I have smart meters because they arranged for them to be fitted and use them for readings. So there's another reason why OVO should not have highlighted the Lumo tariff on my bill. I'm disqualifed from this Lumo tariff.
Userlevel 2
Re already having smart meters, you have my sympathy. (Yes, I am very anti them.) You'd think a simple database query/switch that said "suppress Lumo info/mailing if SM field = yes" would not be hard, eh? Or even, as I suggested to CS, add the detail to the Lumo guff on the statement (e.g. *"Lumo only available if no SM installed and does require having new SM installed"). Would have saved both of us and no doubt many others quite a few minutes in aggregate (as well as lots of CS time from having answer the same Q umpteen times).
Hey-ho.
No idea about how I'd get a dual fuel deal or what it would be with a Lumo SM for gas and std elec meter...'cos apparently I'm better off on Better for elec, but not for gas. Go figure. 😉
Userlevel 7

Updated on 27/01/22 by Jess_OVO

 

Lumo was an App-only company within the OVO group that has been discontinued.


The cheaper tariff messaging on energy statements is set by the industry and required us to show Lumo tariffs on an OVO member’s statement, even if these weren’t always applicable to their current circumstances.

As the Lumo brand is no longer active, these tariffs will no longer be offered on any OVO statement, however you’ll still be advised of the cheapest available tariffs we offer on your monthly summary. It’s always important to factor in that any exit fees that may be applied for ending your current plan early as this could negate the savings made. Our Support Team are happy to help switch your tariff if you do decide to go for it!

 

Not yet an OVO member? - Check out our plans!

 

Userlevel 2
What? Lumo is ONLY dual fuel? Ye Gods. So you are telling me I can get a trivially slightly better deal on elec with Ovo, but really I'm on much the best deal, but for gas I can get a much better deal with Lumo, BUT ONLY IF I MOVE MY ELEC TO LUMO TOO!!

I do understand that some of this is due to regulatory prescription and inflexibility, but really.

(As an aside, clearly the regulator's actions indicate that they do not like dual fuel deals despite that being every suppliers avowed objective.)

I buy dual fuel assuming a supplier will give me a better deal overall. It seems I am misguided. I would say that I should now review whether separate suppliers for gas and elec may benefit me, but - hang on - suppliers like Lumo ONLY OFFER duel fuel! No wonder this market is a mess and so few people bother switching.

What I want from Ovo is an annual usage statement on a dual fuel basis not on the basis of having two different supplies which happen to be from the same company. I guess the regulator does not permit you to do that with the forms you are mandated to send out, but you could surely send out additional communications: "Here are the 2 separate docs we have to send by law, but here is what the very best tariff for you would be with us on dual fuel basis - so you can compare THAT with other suppliers' dual fuel deals" - something like that would be a darn sight more helpful, and transparent than the confusing nonsense currently sent.
Userlevel 1
Hi Darran, many thanks for the explanation. I now appreciate that OVO cannot avoid putting frustrating switch notifications on bills because it's mandated industry practice to do so. As G571 has suggested, I hope that OVO will continue to look for ways to side-step such industry and regulatory shortcomings. Hopefully OVO management will also continue to press for the resolution of other industry failings such as the non-standardisation of smart meters.
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Well I've just received my first Statement. I "went live" with OVO for gas & elec on 8th Dec. The Statement was for just electricity, and just for the first 7 days supply, and it had an estimated reading.
Yet somehow it was able to predict that I could save over £170 /yr by switching to Lumo Energy. There's a lot of guesswork to derive that figure!

So I checked out Lumo and found:

a. There's a more established business in Australia called Lumo Energy, which is also an energy retailer (founded 2010)

b. Lumo's proper name is actually Lumo Online Ltd (not Lumo Energy), and it was incorporated in April 2017

c. The Lumo website doesn't provide the company registration number or Registered Address - a requirement of the Companies Act 2006

None of this gives the right impression.
The major selling points for OVO are "Customer Service", "Fairness", and basically "doing things right".
The Lumo brand doesn't sit well within what I like about OVO.

Are you really sure you want this confusing message sent out to us new customers?
Userlevel 7
Hi @Transparent

Thanks for your feedback on Lumo, in regards to the cheaper tariff messaging, as I mentioned above, this is something we have to include on all statements, its required by the industry, so whether your bill is based on actual readings, or estimates, we have to include it.

I have fed back your comment re the company address to our website team for them to look into.

Darran
Userlevel 1
I too looked at the Lumo website after seeing this information on my bill. Unfortunately it gives very little information about the company. I already have a smart meter, so am apparently ineligible. However, although I do use the Ovo app occasionally, I prefer to access my account through a computer with a proper keyboard and large screen most of the time, so having an app-only account would not appeal to me.

What I really want to know is: what does "sister brand" mean? What is the exact relationship of Lumo to Ovo?
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
In response to @Bonzo Kelly, Lumo Online was set up in April 2017 by three of the same directors at the heart of OVO. Search for Lumo Online Ltd at Companies House if you want the details.

At first it seems to have been intended as a price comparison site, but has morphed into an online-only energy supplier, offering similar (but cheaper) dual-fuel contracts as OVO itself. It's expensive to run an energy-supply company, so if the account administration can be more online, then this helps reduce costs. So it makes good sense, and Lumo Online is therefore a "sister company" operating under the OVO brand.

BTW, I think we must stick to calling it Lumo Online Ltd (LOL for short!). Lumo Ltd also exists in the UK, but is involved in TV production! This could all get very confusing.

OVO has far-reaching strategies for the future of energy sales and administration within the UK. It is good news to see it developing these ideas either through sister companies or acquisitions, such as they did with VCharge UK Ltd in Feb 2017.
Userlevel 1
Thanks @Transparent for this useful information.

I am puzzled why people who already have smart meters cannot switch to Lumo. I assume it is because smart meters from different energy suppliers are incompatible at present, so most meters that are already installed will not be same as the meter Lumo use.

However, if Lumo is a "sister company" to Ovo, perhaps the meters they are using are the same, in which case why can existing Ovo customers who already have smart meters not switch to Lumo?

The reason does not seem to be stated on the Lumo website, and there does not seem to be a 'Contact Us' method for making general enquiries, so I am hoping that someone from Ovo can answer this.
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Hmm. Good points @Bonzo Kelly. I too am a little puzzled.

As I understand it, there are just two main types of Smart electricity meter at the moment, referred to as ADM and SMETS1. Both use the mobile phone network to transmit data rather than sending it directly to your energy supplier. OVO Energy use SMETS1.

I don't as yet have a smart meter, and I wouldn't one until the industry all moves to the forthcoming SMETS2 type, which will be universally acceptable to all providers. I will then re-evaluate once I know its functionality.

I can see why Lumo Online might wish to reject customers with ADM meters, but if that was the case I can't see why they don't say "Acceptance subject to compatability", and then run a check to see if the potential customer has a SMETS1. So I'm guessing it might be more complex than that.

Perhaps some kind Community Manager could tell us whether the restriction is
a. technical
b. regulatory
c. administrative

and whether the issue will go away once it becomes possible for a customer to upgrade to a SMETS2?

Pleeeease? 🙂
Userlevel 5
Hey Transparent,

The team have advised me of the following;

“The Lumo Tariff offer includes a discount, subject to the customer having a Smart installed within the first 6 months of their supply. The only tariff we currently offer requires us to install Smart meters, which is why we currently don't support customers that already have a Smart meter”.

Lucy
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Thanks @Lucy_OVO,
So in a nutshell it's "c" (administrative).

That's ok. It means that OVO is using LOL as a way of running a different set of tariffs, and hence appealing to a section of the market who might not otherwise have chosen OVO themselves.

Nevertheless, returning to the reason this thread started in the first place, It shows that the regulatory obligations aren't actually allowing OVO to make a sensible decision on whether to show an alternative LOL tariff is available when you send out invoices to existing customers.

Your database must already show you which customers have single-fuel contracts and/or an existing Smart Meter. It would be reasonable not to offer an LOL alternative to those customers.... who will needlessly be encouraged check out an LOL tariff which they can't migrate to.

Feel free to bounce this to the Regulator...

... or if you're not permitted to do so, tell us the email address to write to and let the Community make its voice heard!
Userlevel 5
I see what you’re saying here @Transparent. Lumo has been designed to target a different area of the market to appeal to customers who would like an app online based service. As Darran mentioned, the comparison is something that we have to include on all statements as it’s an industry regulation.

Lucy
Userlevel 1
I'm currently having this same argument with OVO. I have posted this in response to one of the moderators, but hopefully it will help some of you who are being given the same false information that they are obliged to put information on about this tariff despite it being unavailable to most customers. Perhaps if a large number of us put in a joint complaint to OFGEM, we could stop OVO's unethical practices and lead to clearer bills for everyone?

Here is my post:

OFGEM guidance clearly states : "Your bill must include personalised information about your supplier’s cheapest tariff and how much you could save. The bill will also give you estimated costs for the next year."

You have just publicly admitted that the advertised tariff is not personalised and so OVO is therefore clearly in breach of the OFGEM instructions to which you refer.

The link to this is here https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/save-money-your-gas-and-electricity-bills

I hope that helps others.

OVO-joyed to highlight how OVO lie to customers and attempt to manipulate information for their own benefit 🙂
Userlevel 5
Bumped into this too. It seems odd to say the least that OVO's statement tells me I can save money by choosing an option that is not available.

I currently take both electric and gas from Ovo and do not have (do not want) a smart(currently dumb if you wish to move elsewhere at a later date) meter. 
it appears that Lumo will supply customers who take dual fuel and agree to a smart meter being fitted, so why does the website then indicate I’m not eligible. Further accepting the weasely worded answers  from Ovo on the forum blaming the regulator, why as the ultimate owner of Lumo does Ovo not simply offer the same rate to long standing customers- discouraging them from moving? 
ironically as some have said Lumo appear to have their origins as a price comparison site. Though Lumo won’t supply my property their comparator tool indicates I could get a 20%pa cheaper deal elsewhere! 
no brained really, bye bye Ovo 

My latest monthly bill from Ovo includes a section on the “cheapest similar plan” and the “cheapest overall plan”.  I’m on a fixed plan currently so I guess the “cheapest similar plan” would only advise of other fixed plans?

However the “cheapest overall plan” makes some pretty amazing saving claims (almost £1k per year). However if I go into my account online I can’t see anywhere to switch to this plan (OVO Energy Simpler Energy 01 October 2021 Direct Debit). Is that because I’m on a fixed plan and can’t? If so whey did Ovo suggest I could save?

Malcolm

Userlevel 7

A great question this one, @MalcolmSu.

 

The cheaper tariff messaging on energy statements is set by the industry and requires us to show both the cheapest similar plan (which as you mention would be another fixed plan) and the cheapest overall plan (which is currently our variable plan) we currently offer. It’s worth highlighting that as the rates on our variable plan are due to increase from April 1st this may not represent the cheapest long-term option for you as the annual savings mentioned are calculated based on the current rate and wouldn’t factor in any exit fees that may apply for ending your current fixed plan early.

If you’d like to check the exact rates on our Simpler Energy plan from April 1st to decide whether this would still represent a saving, reach out to our Support Team who can advise on the upcoming price increase to this plan in your area.

 

I hope this helps clarify this messaging and work out the best option for you going forward.

 

That’s really helpful Jess. Thanks for taking the time to explain in such detail.

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