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Will OVO introduce variable Direct Debits where a smart meter is installed?

  • 29 September 2020
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Will OVO introduce variable DDs where a smart meter is installed?

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Best answer by Tim_OVO 30 September 2020, 10:33

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@lap Currently it doesn't appear to be an option but... i know they are revamping tarrifs so, maybe!

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Updated on 06/10/23 by Emmanuelle_OVO

 

Want to find out more about how OVO calculate your direct debit? Head over to our handy tutorial:

 

 

 

We don’t currently offer a variable Direct Debit payment option. With our Direct Debits your amount won’t change month to month, even if you’ve got Smart Meters installed.

 

However we’ll regularly check your Direct Debit amount is enough to cover your usage costs. As your smart meters send us your readings regularly, these Direct Debit check in’s are more accurate than if we’re estimating your usage.

 

Your usage tends to be higher in the winter and lower in the summer which would mean much higher monthly payments in winter, if your Direct Debit varied month to month. Having a more stable Direct Debit amount should allow you to spread your usage costs out throughout the year- building up credit in the summer to see you through the following winter. We find most members prefer things this way as it allows for easier monthly budgeting all year.

 

Have you checked out the Direct Debit calculator on your online account or OVO app (download for Android or iOS)? 

 

Exact appearance may vary

 

This can be found on the ‘Payments’ page and really helps you keep track of how we use your usage data to work out the appropriate monthly amount. 

 

OVO member but not got a smart meter yet? - Book today!

Interested but not yet an OVO member? - Check out our plans!

 

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@Tim_OVO personally I prefer a fixed (and balanced) amount as ovo pays good interest in credit for summer and then i don't need to panic in winter 

This is an interesting question, @lap - keen to understand the thinking behind it. 

 

I’ve taken the info below from this topic on Direct Debit calculating. Is there an advantage to have a Direct Debit change within a contract? Isn’t it better (for example, for budgeting) if this payment is roughly the same all year round? 

 

How do you calculate my Direct Debit?
 

 

When you come on supply with us, we’ll use your annual usage figures to calculate how much your energy will cost over the year. Once we’ve got the annual amount, we’ll divide this into 12 - this will give us the Direct Debit amount.

If you haven’t got your annual usage figures, we’ll use the national averages. You would then need to send us regular readings for at least 3 months, then we’ll manually calculated the annual figure.

Thank you - I know how you calculate the monthly DD and appreciate that many people will prefer to budget in this way. However, smart meters mean that you can keep a check on your actual expenditure and budget accordingly. Based on my summer months’ usage,  my account is currently 2 months in credit. I have been getting emails from OVO for several months asking me to increase my DD as there is likely to be a shortfall by the end of the contract. I would rather have the money in my account so if there was a choice would opt for a variable DD and pay as I go. - hence the question. I know it wouldn’t suit everyone but it would me!

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Based on my summer months’ usage,  my account is currently 2 months in credit. I have been getting emails from OVO for several months asking me to increase my DD as there is likely to be a shortfall by the end of the contract. I would rather have the money in my account so if there was a choice would opt for a variable DD and pay as I go. - hence the question. I know it wouldn’t suit everyone but it would me!

 

Thanks for this, @lap 

 

I’d love to understand this a bit more: when you say you would rather have the money in your account, are you referring to your bank account? 

 

I can appreciate your point that smart meters allow for accurate billing. So in a way it could be customer choice to ‘pay as you go’ in the summer and bump up the costs in the winter. I suspect the thinking against this is two fold: the customer is at a higher risk of falling into debt at a future date (winter), with such a business model would come a financial risk for the business. Two, fixed customers pay for their energy in advance, in bulk, allowing for lower prices. 

 

Let me know your thoughts...

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BBC Radio 4’s Money Box had an item on their programme of the 25/06/2022 about variable Direct Debit payment options.

They said they had contacted seven big suppliers and they all said yes you can pay monthly for just the energy you used if you provide a meter reading or are on a smart meter.

When asked can you still stay on the cheaper monthly direct debit tariff, they all replied yes.

Does OVO now permit pay monthly for just the energy you used?

You can hear the item @ 14:54 https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0018nfk

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Sorry, but OVO no longer supports Variable Direct Debits even with smart meters. It seems to be a feature that OVO once supported a very long time ago but was later dropped. I can’t tell you when that was because it’s too difficult to trace it back to an exact date.

The only way OVO lets you pay this way is via “Pay On Demand” where you make a manual payment in response to receiving a bill.

I think the BBC might have either contacted some other suppliers that were not OVO, or got their sources confused. You might want to contact them about it.

It is completely unacceptable that OVO will not allow variable direct debit in the current climate. I currently have a huge credit balance and yet I get an email today saying they want to put the DD up further. This BEFORE the new PM announces whatever support is going to happen so they have no idea what the DD should be. OVO is much more likely to go bust than me and customers of other suppliers who have gone under have found it taking months to get balances refunded if at all. 

Can anyone suggest a supplier who will allow variable DD so I can move my account?

Frankly it is outrageous that OVO customers who have a smart meter are not able to have a Variable Direct Debit. What on earth is the point of the Smart Meter if OVO continue to only apply a debit twice a year and basically hold a credit balance purely for the heck of it. If I can not get a variable debit I will be seriously looking around for an alternative. I have just sorted this with British Gas and perhaps my electricity account will need to go

to them as well once they sort out their Smart Meter set up. 

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Frankly it is outrageous that OVO customers who have a smart meter are not able to have a Variable Direct Debit. What on earth is the point of the Smart Meter if OVO continue to only apply a debit twice a year and basically hold a credit balance purely for the heck of it. If I can not get a variable debit I will be seriously looking around for an alternative. I have just sorted this with British Gas and perhaps my electricity account will need to go

to them as well once they sort out their Smart Meter set up. 

Hi @bray55 

Welcome to the customer forum, i am just a customer like you. 

Some suppliers, including British Gas, give customers the choice of DD

1. Pay a fixed amount each month to smooth out the costs. 

2. Pay just the amount on every bill

For others benefit. 

https://www.britishgas.co.uk/help-and-support/bills-and-payments/setting-up-a-direct-debit

https://www.britishgas.co.uk/aem6/content/dam/britishgas/downloads/code-of-practice/lots-of-ways-to-pay.pdf

OVO have chosen just to offer the first option.

You can call ovo collections at any time and if you are on the standard variable rate you can ask for 100% of any credit balance to be returned. 

0800 0699 831

British Gas don't get great reviews, but many people like their flexibility and never have any issues

https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.britishgas.co.uk

https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.ovoenergy.com

https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/octopus.energy

You could add an idea to the pipeline and see how many votes it gets. Personally i would also like the choice. 

https://forum.ovoenergy.com/ideas

Agreed. I just want a company with monthly variable debit with up to date readings via smart meter. If OVO stick their heads in the sand then I will just move to another supplier who will. OVO advice that if you do not have direct debit electricity costs 5% more. Frankly I will not be a prisoner to this type of stupidity. 

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Agreed. I just want a company with monthly variable debit with up to date readings via smart meter. If OVO stick their heads in the sand then I will just move to another supplier who will. OVO advice that if you do not have direct debit electricity costs 5% more. Frankly I will not be a prisoner to this type of stupidity. 

Then switching to a company like British Gas is probably worth considering. 

To be completely clear British Gas also have higher unit rates for non DD customers. This isn't an OVO thing.

It is OFGEM who set the maximum higher rates for the default variable tariff if you don't pay by direct debit.

OFGEM doesn't stipulate whether DDs should be smoothed or not, so companies have made a variety of decisions.

A choice would be nice as some people like to smooth out their outgoings, including my mum in her 80s. Not everyone thinks the OVO approach is stupid. I don't think my mum is stupid. But having a choice would be nice. 

Are you going to add an idea? 

https://forum.ovoenergy.com/ideas

 

Is it possible to have a variable Direct Debit?

 

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OVO doesn’t support them, and we’ve recently started to see evidence of other suppliers slowly phasing them out.

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Hey @DJMarriott 

 

As Blastoise186 has advised, variable Direct Debit is not an option at OVO.

 

You can set up a standard set amount Direct Debit (payment amount is reassessed every 3 months), you can also pay on demand of your bill instead if you wish.

 

I’ve linked below to some helpful topics:

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