Why such a large increase to my recommended Direct Debit?

  • 1 February 2018
  • 86 replies

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86 replies

I am a new customer to OVO from April 2018, my DD has been £66 per month since then, when winter has hit and I started to use gas central heating ... OVO has recommended that my monthly DD is increased to £370 per month. Which is over 5x the current.

This is was above the -£80 debit that I incurred on my latest statement (which I pad off as a direct payment)

I am happy to increase to £150 per month and see how that works, It online, the minimum I can enter as an updated payment is £370 per month.

I think their algorithm is way out .....

I don’t want to lose the discount for Self Service .... not contacting the call centre etc ...

Any advice on my next steps with this please,

Thank you
Userlevel 5
I've moved your query over here, @denzo, you may find the answer you need here.

If not, I'm sure @Transparent or @Mw2870, would be happy to help! 🙂
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Has reading this Forum Topic helped @denzo?

OVO actually have three different algorithms to assess estimated usage under different circumstances. One or more of these is used to inform the DD calculations, and also includes assessments of fuel increases for the winter months.

But the accuracy is only as good as the data which is fed in!
I faithfully supply monthly meter readings to ensure that OVO's algorithms are using as little estimation as possible.

However, I've also changed a portion of my heating demand during the last 6 months by installing a (wet) solar heating panel, which supplements the gas boiler. It took OVO's algorithms 3 months to get back in sync with my gas usage. During that time I deliberately kept my DD payments artificially high just to see how long it took before the re-calculation took effect.

So if we're going to provide any better advice about the large increase in DD payments which you've been asked to acknowledge, we'd need to know factors like regularity of meter readings and how your actual usage compared with what you declared when you signed up to OVO's tariffs in the spring.
Hi. I need to increase my DD, which is fine, but the level you recommend is way to high. I have 12 months left on my contract. Using your figures for estimated future cost, adding my current debit, and spreading that over 12 months yields a figure below £115. Your recommended new DD is £153. This would lead to an overpayment of around £450 over the year, which is well over 30%. This seems wholly unreasonable. What can I do to reset these payments at a level appropriate to both OVO and myself, rather than at the suggested rate which overcharges me to provide a substantial cushion for OVO. This strategy of overcharging monthly payments was the main reason I left my previous supplier - please let me know how you will address this
Userlevel 5
I've moved your query over here, @james111222, as we already had a topic on this. Take a look at the best answer at the top, this may help you out here!

If you've got a debit balance on your account, this will need to be cleared within 3 months, not 12.
Just signed up for another 2 years with OVO and received a statement that shows I am currently in credit by £290.72 and that my expected usage for the year ending 20th February 2019 is £1,726.96. Later that day I get an email saying that although I am in credit I need to increase my DD from £138 to £203 because my estimated usage for the next 12 months will be £2,874.97, a 66% increase!

No explanation and, of course, no way to contact since 'phone calls are discouraged under threat of losing discount, hence the post on the forum. I can only assume that OVO is in financial difficulties like some of the other smaller providers and is looking to its customers to bankroll it. If so, I guess the sensible thing to do is to reduce the DD so that there is no credit balance to be at risk.

I would like to hear some explanation please.
My usage figures over the last year would suggest the cost per month of the new 2 year deal is over the top.
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@Transparent, are you able to help with @NPTring's query? 🙂
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Sure @Eva_OVO let's see what we can do to resolve these curious estimates anomalies that @NPTring has raised.

Now, I'm still in my first contract with OVO, so I have no first hand experience of what procedures occur when you sign up for a new contract to take over straight after another one.

If you were a new customer entirely, then of course you get the opportunity to send in the Annual Usage stats which all Energy Suppliers must print on their invoices/statements. OVO put theirs on page 2 labelled as an Annual Consumption Forecast.

So I'm assuming that @NPTring used those figures when starting the new contract, or that OVO's in-house software picked them up from the previous account.

At this time of year, when energy usage is high, the guideline from Ofgem is that a Supplier should expect an account to be one full month's worth of DD payment in credit.

From the information provided, I don't know whether the snapshot of you being £290 in credit is being taken before or after the current month's statement has been raised.

As your payment history suggests you needed to pay £144+ of DD per month, OVO's software is correct to point out that the present £138 is set too low.

If the £290 credit figure was provided prior to the current month's bill being accounted for, then this would leave the account in credit for around (£290-£144) £146... which is precariously close to the "one month's full DD payment" stipulated in the guidelines!

And we have yet to calculate any rise in fuel prices from your previous contract, which must surely apply.

Personally, I'd do two actions:

  1. Drop a top-up amount into your account to ensure it is well clear of the £145-ish figure. Eg £100 would make a substantial difference...
  2. Once the top-up is showing on your account, revisit your My OVO page and recheck what is the new recommended monthly DD. If it's not decreased markedly from the suggested £203, then you can use the Complaints Procedure to address this.

Of course, you could also post back here if things still don't look right, and we can advise further.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Shame that OVO themselves do not seem to dedicate any resources to customer service. I guess it is all part of this attempt to show that they are not like the other utility companies and that we are all part of one big happy family.

I understand what you are saying in your suggested actions but it is so counter-intuitive to pay an additional £100 when they already owe me the equivalent of over two month's bills. I have gone into the DD page on my account and told it not to increase my DD. I shall now wait until the account is more in balance before making any changes.
Does anyone from OVO ever respond to queries themselves on here or is it always passed off to someone else? I would seriously like to know why OVO say my anticipated cost for next year will be £2,874.97 when my current statement says that my anticipated costs for this year (ending 20th Feb 2019) will be £1,664.14. Have you really put your prices up by 73%?

Anyone know how I can speak to someone without jeopardising my online only discount?
Userlevel 7
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Good morning @NPTring

The Forum Moderators do respond to queries here. It was @Eva_OVO who moved your query here on 15th Jan and tagged me to see if I could respond!

However, as OVO Employees they are bound by the rules of customer confidentiality and therefore can't so easily answer the precise details of your account on an open/public Forum.

You won't find OVO staff from Customer Services, Accounts/Billing or Metering reading the Forum pages. But the Moderators do bounce certain topics to relevant Managers if they feel there's something that should come to their attention.

As an example, have a look at this Topic about Home Storage Batteries. I was discussing the issue with Forum Member Llamedospete when the conversation was joined by Hari, who is a Manager in the relevant department. (Note that I haven't tagged them here because they don't need to respond on this thread).

Returning to your precise question posted yesterday (Sun 20th), you have identified a clear anomoly in the estimated readings for your particular account. There's obviously something amiss if you are given £2874 from your My OVO account page, and £1664 on your current Statement.

You can't resolve this on your own, so you therefore can't lose the SSR by referring the matter to Customer Services.

To be absolutely certain of this, you could opt to email CS and put the word Complaint in the Subject line. No complaint issue would ever fall within the bracket of a customer being financially disadvantaged.

There are other benefits in using an email complaint in this case:

  • OVO are contractually obliged to respond with 5 days
  • The email can be forwarded to the relevant person in accounts
  • the email can be forwarded to the programming team (in London)

... and you were absolutely right to raise this issue here. If others also similar anomolies between two estimated forecasts, they too can now find the answer I've just given.

Thanks again, Transparent, for taking the time to respond. I know you are very friendly with Ovo but calling Eva's posting of 15th January 'a response' is stretching it a bit far. All she did was pass it over to you knowing full well that you do not have the information to deal with the query. That is 'fobbing off' not 'responding'.

In response to a private message through the forum someone called Darran from Ovo has now acknowledged that this does sound odd and has asked for my details so that it can be sorted out. It seems an extraordinarily long-winded way to deal with what should be a simple query.
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Well I generally find I get on better with companies when I'm friendly. 😀

It's not just OVO; today I've received an apology and offer of compensation from a seller on Alibaba in China who failed to appreciate the UK law on product specification and the Consumer Rights Act. Instead of damning him with a negative review, I can now give him public credit for taking time and trouble to sort things out. I get the bonus of some extra free product, and his future customers get the benefit of dealing with someone who is keen to work within our Laws!

I have met @Eva_OVO once... when we discussed the controversies of the new Self Service Reward over a rushed lunch a couple of months ago. But I learned enough about her to realise that I probably know a lot more about energy estimates and Direct Debits than she does! That's not surprising because she has a background in Pay-As-You-Go Contracts.

So she was absolutely right to point you in my direction on 15th Jan.

It wasn't until 5 days later that you were able to mention the two vastly different estimates you had from two differing sources within OVO. And at that point the Team Leader of the Moderators' @Darran_OVO seems to have spotted the issue and sent you a Direct Message (DM).

Full marks to Darran; because he could've just left you to raise it with the correct people yourself using the Complaints Procedure I'd mentioned.

Actually, I'm in an even better position to assist, because I also happen to understand why these varying estimates are occurring. It actually stems from work being done at OVO's London offices - whereas the Forum Moderators are based in Bristol. So I'll now do something about that behind the scenes (not on this public Forum!).

The main message to come out of this is that customers who are given estimated usage figures which are very wide of the mark should contact Customer Services directly, and without fear of losing the SSR.

And that's why it's important that we've been able to have this discussion on the open Forum.
A couple of inaccuracies in your response:

It wasn't until 5 days later that you were able to mention the two vastly different estimates you had from two differing sources within OVO The vastly different estimates were actually mentioned in the first paragraph of my original post (the usage estimate for the current year had actually decreased by the time of my post 5 days later because Ovo had sent me a new statement). Since you, Eva and Darran all supposedly read this it is surprising that none of you realised that this was, as Darran subsequently describes it, odd and therefore not within your ability to resolve.

And at that point the Team Leader of the Moderators' @Darran_OVO seems to have spotted the issue and sent you a Direct Message. Darran did not spot anything. I had to DM him to get any response. I did this because he had liked your response to me. Unfortunately that did not mean that he had actually read the original question.

Are you aware that by not accepting Ovo's recommended DD however mistaken or unjustifiable customers are forfeiting their right to the discount for online only - check their T&Cs. Sounds like sharp practice to me. Perhaps you might mention it to your chums over your next lunch.
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Mea Culpa, @NPTring

The reason I didn't act immediately on the differing amounts stated in your first post of 12th Jan was because I believed that you had just signed a new contract with OVO. The Statement you referred to would therefore be based on the readings and tariff applicable to the old contract, whereas the email would be generated as a consequence of the new contract.

I made precisely this mistake on the Forum in the middle of last year, and incorrectly advised a customer that there was an error made by OVO.

That's why I arrived at a different conclusion once you received the second Statement.

And apologies, I shouldn't have jumped to the conclusion that it was @Darran_OVO who contacted you, when in fact, the reverse was true.
Userlevel 7


thanks for coming to the forum to report this big difference in projected costs.

That “Expected usage for the year” figure (shown on your statement) is made using a personnel projection, which factors in a whole bunch of things, including your property’s annual usage average.

The email you were sent about this Direct Debit provided a recommended payment amount that aims to get you to your contract end date with a £0 balance. The Direct Debit figure will take into account your credit balance, and the projected costs shown on the Payments page are calculated using just your annual usage average.

In your case there’s a big difference in the two, too big. So I’d recommend you get this checked. As this looks like a possible issue (rather then the day to day maintenance of the account), you certainly wouldn't lose any self service rewards.

- Send over a PM via Facebook
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- Our Help Centre has online chat
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I agree that the difference is too big. Unfortunately, Darran - your boss, I believe - seems to think the 'figures do seem to add up'. The only way this can be the case is if you have put your charges up by 73%.

Darran also points out that if a customer does not pay the recommended DD amount, even if you are incapable of explaining or justifying such a large increase, then you won't pay the Self Service discount.

I'm afraid you are coming across as a bunch of crooks.
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Erm @Tim_OVO - there shouldn't have been a "personal projection" assessed in the case of @NPTring. That's the software bug I referred to in my reply to him.

This is a new contract for an existing customer. So he wouldn't have needed to provide an Annual Consumption figure.

What's happened is that the new billing software has failed to find the Annual Consumption it was expecting, and instead used data such as house-type & geographical area to generate an unnecessary estimate.

Due to the age of this new software suite, this bug may not have been encountered before. That's why I told him it needed reporting back to the London end.
i have just had my direct debit increase from 70 to 223!! but i am unable to get through to OVO and they are not responding to email or calls.

s anyone else having the same?
Userlevel 7
This topic is worth a read @babyblue - lots of helpful advice from other users!
Hi I hope somebody can help. I have a 2 bed property that I rent out to two people who work full time and when I changed over to Ovo two years ago I was paying £30 a month. It has gradually increased and now it is a whopping £171 a month and Ovo want to increase it to £196 a month! I have compared it with friends who have similar properties and their average bill for a quarter is £120-£150! There is electric heating in the property and I have asked the tenants to record the reading on the smart meter for me. On average they are using £2 - £4 a day so I have no idea where Ovo are getting their figures from!
Has anybody had similar problems?
Thanks for your help.
Userlevel 5
Hey @Annieb64 - I've moved your post over here. You can find more info on this above ^^

Today I received an email from you recommending an increase in our monthly DD from £270 to £327. I've looked at the usage for the past year and even allowing for an increase of 10% in the coming year, I can't get to this higher amount being necessary. Is it possible to 'split the difference' with the increase, and see how it goes?


Tried to phone, but, frankly, do not have the time to wait endlessly on-hold.

Anyhow, we pay £124 per month direct debit and was surprised to log on and find that Ovo wants to increase the monthly DD to £226! The total we have spent in the last 12 months (from May18-Apr 19) has been £1,285, which confirms that £124 is about right.

We have a Smart Meter so Ovo is perfectly aware of what are energy use is so any idea of where we go to from here, given there is no way of changing the direct debit on your website?