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Why have I been billed to an incorrect estimated opening reading - can this be recalculated?

  • 11 August 2021
  • 19 replies
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I have recently received a statement from Ovo, with a breakdown of my usage over the last 10 months or so, and the numbers they have used are wildly inaccurate, to the point that I believe them to be charging me over £1000 too much for my annual usage.  They have also given me an estimate for next year of over £7000, meaning my energy bill would be more than my rent.  I have already contacted customer service, but I was hoping to find some reassurance here that these mistakes will be rectified.

In my previous property, I was on a prepayment meter, and would put £10-15 on each per month.  When I signed up to Ovo at the end of September last year (I had just moved in a couple of days before), I was quoted £97 per month.  I knew this was high, but I was unable to provide my annual usage numbers, so I agreed to the ‘average’ for my type of property.  I am pretty sure I gave meter readings (how else would they know what I was using without a starting number).  However, the statement is using estimated figures that are significantly different from a reading I have photos of from the 12th Oct.  I have also submitted several readings to them since.  Unfortunately, these submissions were not exactly every month.  Despite selecting the option on my account to be given a monthly reminder to provide a meter reading, I have not received a single reminder in the entire time I have been a customer, so I have only submitted half a dozen readings in the past year.  This should still be enough to work out my averages, but the statement only has one actual reading on it, from June.

I am now worrying that despite the evidence I have provided, because they supposedly don’t have any actual readings for Sep-May they will insist that I used all this energy, despite the fact that I live alone in a small 2 bed terrace, with only the boiler (currently) using the gas.  The discrepancy between the estimated 30th Sep reading and my actual 12th Oct reading is about 650 units for electric and a staggering 3,500 units for the gas.  I don’t believe it is even possible to use that much in that period of time.

I have since learned that Ovo have been fined millions of £ in recent years for incorrectly estimating and overcharging customers, so I am suprised they are not paying closer attention to how they are billing their customers now.  Anyone else having similar issues?

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Best answer by Jess_OVO 13 August 2021, 12:44

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Hi there @DanielTSTocks !

Thanks for posting on here. I’m Blastoise186, one of the forum volunteers. I don’t work for OVO myself and I can’t access your account, but I can give advice that might help you out.

I won’t deny that OVO did get in a bit of a tight spot with Ofgem a few years ago, but that’s been resolved since and the new billing platform is designed to be a lot more accurate than the old one. I think it’s also fair to say that OVO has actually learned from those mistakes and I’m told that pretty much every affected member has already had any refunds that were due and accounts corrected.

In actual fact, the fines were only £2 total - £1 against OVO’s Electricity license and £1 against OVO’s Gas license. The rest was paid to a voluntary fund which isn’t considered to be a fine and is intended to help customers who need it most.

Your estimates do sound a bit high there and it may be worth getting a Smart Meter to help make sure your readings go in on time. These can indeed be corrected on request and your payments can be adjusted to more closely reflect your actual usage. If you let the Support Team know, they’ll get right on the case. If you have paid too much, this can indeed be refunded as well. You’ll never be expected to pay for any energy you didn’t actually use.

Can I ask in what form you were meant to receive the meter reading reminders though? It sounds like there could be a bug there, but it should be possible to fix if you can tell us a bit more about what happened.

Everything you’ve mentioned should be resolved fairly quickly, but if you are concerned that you’re not getting any progress, I would definitely recommend using OVO’s Complaints Process to get this sorted out. There’s a very quick response time on that and the Complaints Team aim to get all complaints resolved within five working days if possible - with an ideal target of two working days.

I have already raised this issue with customer service, and I was given an email address which I emailed, explaining the situation.  I also provided a dozen photos of my meters (6 gas, 6 electric) taken over the last 10 months.  My concern is that they could argue that I used all the extra energy between joining and the first readings they say they have on record (7th of Dec I think they said it was).  Will they use the figures I have provided to backdate an accurate number?

My usage for this Oct-Aug period is:

Electric - 1037 units - £149.64/£223.32 (inc. standing charge)

Gas - 61 units - £18.02/£90.21

Their ‘estimates’ are:

Electric - 1713 units - £247.18/£320.86

Gas - 3591 - £1,063.58/£1,135.77

As to the reminders, I can’t remember what format I was supposed to recieve them (I assume email or text), but as the online account system has been down for several days, I can’t check this, or submit my most recent meter readings.

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Thanks for the update.

Wow, that is quite a big difference. OVO is still working on getting MyOVO back up and running properly at the moment, but it might be possible to submit readings using the automated phone system on 0330 303 5063 option 1. I’m not sure if it’s working properly right now, but you’re definitely welcome to give it a try and see what happens.

I’m also going to ask @Tim_OVO and @Jess_OVO to see if they can raise a bug report about these meter reading reminders just in case. If it’s been broken for that long, then that’s not ideal. I have a smart meter myself so I don’t get them at all and can’t monitor the reliability of the reminders.

Once OVO can verify your actual readings are valid, then your bills will indeed be updated and back-billing will be used if needed to fix all of them. It’s worth noting that OVO does Monthly billing rather than Quarterly billing - which is a trend that more and more suppliers are moving towards. However, MyOVO is designed to be a lot more “real-time” than other suppliers, so entering any readings at anytime should refresh your account balance within 90 seconds.

Someone in the Support Team should get back to you within the next few days. but if you do contact them again or reply to the active case, please feel free to let the team know that I’ve been helping you out on the forum and provide a link to this thread. It helps them to know what’s been said over here which sometimes speeds things up.

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Hi @DanielTSTocks  and welcome to the OVO online community!

 

Sorry to hear about the inconsistencies you’ve seen with your billing and estimates since joining us. Just wanted to clarify a couple of things before we advise of the next steps to get things back on track -

 

Were we already the supplier when you first moved in or did you switch over to us after the move? 

 

If you’ve got a record of readings taken since you moved in which show that the reading we’ve opened to doesn’t line up with your usage, we may be able to recalculate this but how we do this depends on how you set-up the account.

 

In terms of the gas usage costs you’ve worked out, are you looking at your meter units to calculate this?

 

Gas usage is a slightly confusing one to figure out as your meter will clock your usage in volume (cubic metres/feet or M3/Ft3) which are then converted to kWh on your monthly summary. The full conversion is detailed on your monthly summary but it’s roughly 11 kWh per m3, which might explain some of the difference between the gas usage figures you’re seeing.

 

 Shame that the meter reading reminder emails haven’t reached you - this is definitely something to raise with our Support Team who can check why this might have happened. I’d echo @Blastoise186’s recommendation to think about upgrading to a smart meter too! This would allow us to receive your meter readings automatically, making your billing far more accurate in future. 

 

Let us know how you get on - we’re on hand here to advise where we can! :slight_smile:

Hi Jess.  I believe Ovo were the supplier to the address before I moved in.  My landlord suggested sticking with you, and as I don’t use a lot of energy the differences between suppliers prices is negligable. Or it should be under my normal circumstances.  I believe that the previous tenant ran up various debts before he was evicted from the property as I still get letters for him asking for payments, so I assume this will have include Ovo.

My account opened on 30th Sep, and the first readings I have are for 12th Oct.  I am sure I would have given a reading as soon as possible after being asked, but at that time I regularly worked away from home for 7-9 days at a time, and so would have submitted them as soon as I was back home.  Also, as I have not received any reminders, it is possible that I was never specifically asked for a reading.  I have no idea why the first accurate reading is for Dec, when I am sure I gave readings before this that have not registered, hence the photos I have submitted.

As to my gas usage, I used the calculation provided on the Ovo statement to convert units to kWh.  My numbers are correct.  Yours are not.

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Thanks for the info. I’ll need to have a really deep think through about this before I can respond properly, but the fact that OVO was the supplier for the previous tenant might work in your favour. Not least because this increases the chances of OVO being able to dig through the archives and pull up the final reading from that other account. Obviously, any debts run up by the previous tenant aren’t your responsibility so feel free to either forward them on (if possible) or do a Return To Sender on the basis that the addressee is no longer at your address.

I get the feeling OVO will need to dig through a whole bunch of archives and do a pretty hefty amount of number crunching to get this resolved. Tim and Jess know more about handling weird edge cases like this than I do, so I’ll probably have to rely on their knowledge as well here.

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Updated on 14/09/23 by Abby_OVO

 

Sounds like we may have opened your account to an estimated reading, in that case, @DanielTSTocks.

 

If that estimate was much lower than it should have been this would explain the large amount of usage charged before the first reading you gave. Best thing to do is see if you can find out the actual meter reading from the date you moved in. If you didn’t read the meter yourself, your landlord of letting agency may have listed the reading on your inventory or check-in report. Once we receive an actual meter reading from this date we can reverse your statement and rebill you based on what’s actually been used.

 

If you’ve checked and there’s no record of the reading on this date, not to worry. We may still be able to recalculate the opening meter reading but it would depend on the readings you’ve taken since. We need at least 2 sets of readings taken 2 weeks apart to check your average consumption and whether the opening meter reading falls in line. If you haven’t already it’s worth mentioning to our Support Team that you believe your opening meter reading is incorrect. They can use the evidence you’ve supplied to see if we can recalculate and rebill you in this case.

 

In terms of your gas consumption figures it’s hard to confirm the actual usage without access to your meter reading history. Do you use gas to heat your home or just for cooking? I would say that the gas costs you’ve calculated are incredibly low for 10 months of usage if you do have a gas boiler, so if this is the case, something doesn’t seem right. Have you checked whether your gas meter is clocking in metric (ie. metres cubed) or imperial (ie. feet cubed)?

 

Hope this helps get to the bottom of things. Do keep us updated when you hear back from the Support Team, it will be really helpful for others finding this thread in future to see how things get worked out! :ok_hand:

Yesterday I was able to log in to my account and provide my most recent meter readings.  There are 5 or 6 actual readings listed, as well as a few estimated ones. The first (actual) one on there is 7th Dec, but I am sure that I submitted readings before this.  I take pictures of the meters to take the reading as they are in an unlit basement.  I provided these pics when I emailed my complaint.

The gas usage is so low as I currently don't use a gas cooker, or a washing machine which uses quite a bit of hot water. There was also a problem with the central heating which was only resolved a couple of months ago, so when I was not away for work I was using an electric heater (or nothing, I don't really mind if I'm a little cold). The only gas I am using currently is when I take a shower or wash the dishes.  Once I have those appliances connected, no doubt my usage will increase to a more ‘normal' level.

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Sorry to hear there’s some readings missing from your online account, @DanielTSTocks.

 

As long as you’ve got a record of the readings you’ve taken previously, our Support Team will be able to get these added to your account and adjust any billing accordingly. 

 

Obviously the most important readings to check would be the opening readings. Did you manage to track these down yet? 

Hi Jess, the earliest readings I have are dated 12th Oct, and I opened my account 30th Sep.  I am fairly sure that I would have taken readings on the day I signed up, but I can’t find them.  The confirmation email I received at the time implies that I was not asked for the opening readings on the day I signed up, and would be asked for them shortly.  My assumption then is that the readings for the 12th Oct were those first readings I was asked for, but I’m not sure.

 

On a semi-related topic, I received a phone call on Friday from a man saying he was from Ovo, wanting to discuss my issue.  He spoke in a weird, stilted manner, and sounded a bit like those robotic automated voices you sometimes get on marketing calls, but it was a real person.  Unfortunately I was at the supermarket and was unable to talk at that time, so he said he would email the details to me instead.  So far, I have not received this email (inc. my spam folder).  If the call was genuine, then it is possible it was sent to the wrong email.  It would not be the first time someone has emailed the wrong person by leaving out my middle initial from the email address.  Can this be checked on your end?

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Sorry for any confusion caused by the call you received, @DanielTSTocks - sounds like our Support Team were giving you a call to discuss the email you sent in.

 

The email registered to your account will match the email you use to login to your online account, so if this is correct there could be another cause for the delayed email follow-up.

 

I’ve sent you a PM requesting some details so we can try and get to the bottom of this for you. :thumbsup:

Hi please help..

I recently changed to ovo and when I gave my 1st meter reading I did it over the phone..when we downloaded the app we noticed that the meter readings they had registered didn't matchthe o e we gave. ovo gave our old company the same readings so they could produce our final bill..we are now having letters from our old company saying we owe then a lot of money..I rang both company's approx 3 weeks ago saying its wrong and it still hasn't been sorted..the reading they have registered on the 10th of June I still havnt got up to that amount of energy and doubt i will for around a year..please someone help this is stressing me out!!

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Hi @Kerri and welcome to the OVO online community,

 

Great to hear about your recent switch to OVO. I’m sorry to hear there’s been a bit of a mix-up with the opening readings we’ve used on your opening statement. As you mention submitting a set of meter readings to our Support Team, I’m wondering whether these were submitted in the ‘Opening meter reading window’. If we received the readings over 5 days after your supply joined us we may not have been able to get these readings verified and sent back to your previous supplier in time, in which case this opening reading would be estimated by the industry.

 

In your case it sounds like this estimated opening reading was really out of line with the actual readings you’ve taken. In order to check if we can get this corrected, both on your opening statement with us and on the closing statement you’ve received from your previous supplier, we need to carry out a ‘Meter Reading Dispute’. You can read more about this in the guide below.

 

 

If you haven’t already we’d recommend taking another set of meter readings and getting in touch with our Support Team, who can get the process started. You can find the best contact channels for the team here.

 

Let us know how you get on -- We’re always happy to give advice here.

Hi thanks for your reply..they asked me to give a meter reading on a certain date which I did..this would of been the 1st reading they received from me.. ovo and my old company both have the same reading as my old company told me ovo provided them. I have rang up and explained and they said they will hand it over to another team..I still havnt heard anything from them but receiving high bills..

I dont mean to be nieve but I dont know why it's taking all this time to change some numbers over..

We even had an ovo engineer come out to try fit a smart meter..unfortunately due to signal we couldn't have one but received a new meter so my readings are now starting from 00000..the engineer told me he sent the last readings over to his office and no one is understanding that nothing is adding up.

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Hi @Kerri i am just a customer like you. Some of us on this forum try and help out where we can.

Unfortunately meter reading corrections between suppliers can take up to 12 weeks to sort out as described in the link from @Jess_OVO . It is an industry wide thing, not limited to OVO. I appreciate it is not good news. Hopefully it will take less than this. 

For some issues where it can start to get complicated to explain i usually recommend contacting the OVO support team via private message on twitter. 

This is an official channel for the support team and the OVO staff have access to the systems just like on the phones. 

The good thing about a private message on twitter is you can write a good statement about the issue, including dates, readings and even attach screen shots and pictures like copies of bills etc. Everything you send is date and time stamped, and importantly you should never have to repeat yourself as the messages will always be there to refer to. 

Also importantly any reply from ovo is date and time stamped with the persons name so you have a really good audit trail of everything they have said. 

I only use Twitter for private messages to companies for things like this.

Replies are usually within a few hours or the next day, within the normal hours of OVO support. 

I definitely don't recommend email, but that doesn't just apply to OVO.

Hopefully OVO already have all the information they need, but a written summary via twitter private message may help in my experience. 

I hope that is useful. 

If that doesn't work do come back again. 

Let us know how you get on. 

 

Has this happened to anyone else? I’ve just received billing based on estimates which are 5 times bigger than my previous and current usage. On the basis of this incompetence OVO invited me to make a top up payment now of £5000+ to avoid being seriously in debt to them in 12 months time. Plus of course my current bill was almost 5 times bigger than it should have been. Was it incompetence or corporate greed that led to these grossly incompetent bills? If an elderly person received such billing they could have a stroke or heart attack. Has this ever happened? Has OVO’s stupid billing actually killed anyone? 

Started my contract with OVO on 6/7/23 while on traditional meter. Submitted opening meter reading of 46006. Requested to switch to smart meter which officially started on 13/7/23. As such closing meter reading on old meter = 46010 while opening meter reading on new meter = 0. Decided to leave OVO so last day of meter reading on 31/7/23 = 30.9. However I have barely live in my new apartment between 6/7/23 to 6/8/23. 

 

Received my final bill from OVO. Total outstanding charge = £42 which has definitely been overcharged. Realised issue is that on the bill the opening reading on 6/7/23 was 45945 which was an ESTIMATED one. I should have only used 4 units of electricity (46006 to 46010) while on the old meter. 

 

Checked back on my online account. Meter reading history is not displaying anything. When submitted my opening meter reading last time I did not receive any confirmation email or whatsoever. 

 

Anyway I can solve this issue? 

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Have you checked your previous bill (before OVO) to see what reading you have been charged to? If that is different to the start reading for OVO then you can show your previous bill as evidence. 
 

Have you checked your previous bill (before OVO) to see what reading you have been charged to? If that is different to the start reading for OVO then you can show your previous bill as evidence. 
 

Nope I lived elsewhere previously so have just moved into my current apartment as new tenant. The only evidence I have got is my landlord sending me the opening reading via email but not sure if OVO will accept this. 

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