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OVO have calculated my annual consumption and gas conversion wrong - why?


I have kept a detailed spreadsheet record of gas and electricity we consume for many years. This enables me to check our usage and e.g. compare it with neighbours' usage; search for best tariffs annually with accurate consumption info. and check the monthly bills I get from suppliers. By using this I have found that OVO have added up our annual consumption incorrectly and recently got the sum wrong which converts gas cubic metres to kilowatt-hours. On each occasion I have complained and been assured that OVO are working to correct things in the future. But these are very simple arithmetical errors ( one only requires the addition of twelve bills and the other was the incorrect multiplication of two figures). I find it alarming that OVO is getting basics wrong like these.
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Best answer by Lucy_OVO 18 May 2017, 15:28

Hi Mattj3135 and thanks for your welcome.

Actually my point is not the effect on our account but the loss of confidence in OVO.

Getting our annual consumption wrong after the first year's account with OVO didn't actually cost me anything. I had the correct information so I could still obtain renewal comparisons based on accurate annual consumption figures.

Getting the gas conversion wrong produced a difference in OVO's favour of only 3kWh (not a rounding error) so the cost to us was only pence. They blamed the computer department - where have we heard that one before! I'm not concerned about that but I immediately checked all the previous conversions (which were accurate) but then wondered whether this might be a way for OVO to make multiple small profits from hundreds of thousands of customers. Maybe an unworthy thought but that is what making such basic errors starts to make you wonder.


Afternoon @ElectricTV and @stateofit

It’s hard to offer a concrete answer on these calculation errors @ElectricTV as this is the first time I’ve heard of such an error. I think it would be really useful to take a look at your account and see what the issue may be and discuss with our teams what has happened. Then, once I have more information I can get back in touch. I’ve dropped you a PM to kick start the conversation.

Just to add, I've tweaked the title of this topic on the off chance that another user with the same issue wants to get involved.

Lucy
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Userlevel 6
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I have kept a detailed spreadsheet record of gas and electricity we consume for many years. This enables me to check our usage and e.g. compare it with neighbours' usage; search for best tariffs annually with accurate consumption info. and check the monthly bills I get from suppliers. By using this I have found that OVO have added up our annual consumption incorrectly and recently got the sum wrong which converts gas cubic metres to kilowatt-hours. On each occasion I have complained and been assured that OVO are working to correct things in the future. But these are very simple arithmetical errors ( one only requires the addition of twelve bills and the other was the incorrect multiplication of two figures). I find it alarming that OVO is getting basics wrong like these.

Hi @ElectricTV welcome to the forum and thanks for your post.

I'm sorry to learn of these issues you've been experiencing, as you've already been in contact with OVO my advice in this case would be to drop @Tim_OVO a private message with your full name, address & OVO account number so that he can look into this for you with a view to sorting this for good for you. I'm pretty sure he will be able to get to the bottom of this for you!
Hi Mattj3135 and thanks for your welcome.

Actually my point is not the effect on our account but the loss of confidence in OVO.

Getting our annual consumption wrong after the first year's account with OVO didn't actually cost me anything. I had the correct information so I could still obtain renewal comparisons based on accurate annual consumption figures.

Getting the gas conversion wrong produced a difference in OVO's favour of only 3kWh (not a rounding error) so the cost to us was only pence. They blamed the computer department - where have we heard that one before! I'm not concerned about that but I immediately checked all the previous conversions (which were accurate) but then wondered whether this might be a way for OVO to make multiple small profits from hundreds of thousands of customers. Maybe an unworthy thought but that is what making such basic errors starts to make you wonder.
Userlevel 6
Badge +4
Hi Mattj3135 and thanks for your welcome.

Actually my point is not the effect on our account but the loss of confidence in OVO.

Getting our annual consumption wrong after the first year's account with OVO didn't actually cost me anything. I had the correct information so I could still obtain renewal comparisons based on accurate annual consumption figures.

Getting the gas conversion wrong produced a difference in OVO's favour of only 3kWh (not a rounding error) so the cost to us was only pence. They blamed the computer department - where have we heard that one before! I'm not concerned about that but I immediately checked all the previous conversions (which were accurate) but then wondered whether this might be a way for OVO to make multiple small profits from hundreds of thousands of customers. Maybe an unworthy thought but that is what making such basic errors starts to make you wonder.


No worries at all - You raise a good point here! I'm glad you're not out of pocket too severely and hopefully they refund this to you.

I look forward to hearing what OVO say on this as id hate to think it's a widespread miscalculation!

Re blaming the computer department - that does sound like a get out of it excuse and needs ownership being taken pronto before its a big issue.
Userlevel 3
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Getting the gas conversion wrong produced a difference in OVO's favour of only 3kWh (not a rounding error) so the cost to us was only pence. They blamed the computer department - where have we heard that one before! I'm not concerned about that but I immediately checked all the previous conversions (which were accurate) but then wondered whether this might be a way for OVO to make multiple small profits from hundreds of thousands of customers. Maybe an unworthy thought but that is what making such basic errors starts to make you wonder.

Hey :)

A thought occurs...

Did you factor in ever-changing Calorific Value? This has to do with the Quality of the gas and atmospheric pressure etc, and changes frequently I gather, so each month or each statement could have a very slightly different conversion algorithm. The conversion used is printed on the bills, under the gas invoice... If you did the sums for one month using last month's Calorific Value that could produce and error of a few kWh...
Hi stateofit

I did. My spreadsheet has a separate sheet devoted to the conversion and I check the bill each month to see what calorific value OVO has used and change it when necessary. OVO actually agreed that my figure was correct having set out the calculation for them in detail, but then blamed the IT dept. If that were correct it would mean that the wrong calculation had potentially been used for every account customer. Computers are very good at multiplying two simple figures so it is the people not the computers that are at fault.

The irony is that the correct figures to be used are set out in the bill on the page after the gas consumption. It's just that they have not calculated them correctly which is primary school level stuff.
Userlevel 5
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Hi Mattj3135 and thanks for your welcome.

Actually my point is not the effect on our account but the loss of confidence in OVO.

Getting our annual consumption wrong after the first year's account with OVO didn't actually cost me anything. I had the correct information so I could still obtain renewal comparisons based on accurate annual consumption figures.

Getting the gas conversion wrong produced a difference in OVO's favour of only 3kWh (not a rounding error) so the cost to us was only pence. They blamed the computer department - where have we heard that one before! I'm not concerned about that but I immediately checked all the previous conversions (which were accurate) but then wondered whether this might be a way for OVO to make multiple small profits from hundreds of thousands of customers. Maybe an unworthy thought but that is what making such basic errors starts to make you wonder.


Afternoon @ElectricTV and @stateofit

It’s hard to offer a concrete answer on these calculation errors @ElectricTV as this is the first time I’ve heard of such an error. I think it would be really useful to take a look at your account and see what the issue may be and discuss with our teams what has happened. Then, once I have more information I can get back in touch. I’ve dropped you a PM to kick start the conversation.

Just to add, I've tweaked the title of this topic on the off chance that another user with the same issue wants to get involved.

Lucy
I started a topic a few weeks ago complaining that in my most recent statement OVO had not calculated the conversion of cubic meters of gas used to kWh correctly. After a month with no answer from OVO except the suggestion that the OVO IT department were looking into it I received my next statement which also came up with the wrong answer. So I complained again and this time I got an answer.

If you go to the page in your statement where OVO set out the conversion calculation in detail (on my statement it is page 6) you will see that some figures are whole numbers, some are shown to 1 decimal place and the volume correction factor figure is given to 5 decimal places. Pretty precise you might think. However if you carry out the calculation using their very precise figures you come up with a different answer to the one OVO uses in the statement.

Their answer is that despite all the figures looking very precise, the one for calorific value in reality has more decimal places which OVO doesn't show. So when the calculation is carried out including the hidden decimal places the calculation agrees with the figure used in the statement - or so OVO assures me.

Why OVO shows and uses 5 decimal places on one factor and fails to show the same degree of precision on the calorific value is unexplained but they apparently intend to correct that in future.

Problem solved but reasons for the problem in the first place obscure!
Userlevel 7
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I started a topic a few weeks ago complaining that in my most recent statement OVO had not calculated the conversion of cubic meters of gas used to kWh correctly. After a month with no answer from OVO except the suggestion that the OVO IT department were looking into it I received my next statement which also came up with the wrong answer. So I complained again and this time I got an answer.

If you go to the page in your statement where OVO set out the conversion calculation in detail (on my statement it is page 6) you will see that some figures are whole numbers, some are shown to 1 decimal place and the volume correction factor figure is given to 5 decimal places. Pretty precise you might think. However if you carry out the calculation using their very precise figures you come up with a different answer to the one OVO uses in the statement.

Their answer is that despite all the figures looking very precise, the one for calorific value in reality has more decimal places which OVO doesn't show. So when the calculation is carried out including the hidden decimal places the calculation agrees with the figure used in the statement - or so OVO assures me.

Why OVO shows and uses 5 decimal places on one factor and fails to show the same degree of precision on the calorific value is unexplained but they apparently intend to correct that in future.

Problem solved but reasons for the problem in the first place obscure!


Thanks for sharing this answer, @ElectricTV

It's interesting to hear the reasons for this calculation miss match - I'll pass on some feedback about making this more clear on your statements.

Tim
I have had a very similar experience. I originally noticed the calculation error in March 2017, around the time that the bill format changed. I complained and received much the same response. I complained again in April and May when these bills continued to show an error. After long discussions with OVO’s complaints team, who were very polite and efficient, I felt that I was not making any progress and escalated the issue to the energy Ombudsman.

I have recently received notification from the Ombudsman that OVO have investigated further and implemented a fix.

At present my gas usage is too low to be able to identify if the issue has been fixed or not, although my last bill appeared to show a discrepancy of 1 kWh.

In my response to the Ombudsman I have said that I will continue to check my bills and if it appears that the calculation is still in error I will get back in touch so that they can re-open their investigation.

For those very sad people out their interested in the detail, Ofgem provide very clear guidance on how suppliers should calculate energy consumption in kWh from gas volume (see https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2014/08/supplier_guidance_on_cv_calculation.pdf ). In response to the more decimal places statement the Ofgem paper clearly states:-

"This means that for a given gas billing period, suppliers should truncate the average CV to one decimal place. Rounding average CV is not consistent with the Regulations, nor is calculating to more than one decimal place."

National Grid also publish calorific value data for each Local Distribution Zone (or LDZ) see http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/Gas-transmission-operational-data/calorific-value-description/

My investigation seemed to show that using National Grid’s CV data, and following the calculations laid out in the Ofgem paper, the final kWh value was actually correct! My assumption is that the CV data quoted on the bill is in error some way.

I would be interested to know if the problem has been fixed or is currently hiding in rounding errors.
Userlevel 5
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I have had a very similar experience. I originally noticed the calculation error in March 2017, around the time that the bill format changed. I complained and received much the same response. I complained again in April and May when these bills continued to show an error. After long discussions with OVO’s complaints team, who were very polite and efficient, I felt that I was not making any progress and escalated the issue to the energy Ombudsman.

I have recently received notification from the Ombudsman that OVO have investigated further and implemented a fix.

At present my gas usage is too low to be able to identify if the issue has been fixed or not, although my last bill appeared to show a discrepancy of 1 kWh.

In my response to the Ombudsman I have said that I will continue to check my bills and if it appears that the calculation is still in error I will get back in touch so that they can re-open their investigation.

For those very sad people out their interested in the detail, Ofgem provide very clear guidance on how suppliers should calculate energy consumption in kWh from gas volume (see https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2014/08/supplier_guidance_on_cv_calculation.pdf ). In response to the more decimal places statement the Ofgem paper clearly states:-

"This means that for a given gas billing period, suppliers should truncate the average CV to one decimal place. Rounding average CV is not consistent with the Regulations, nor is calculating to more than one decimal place."

National Grid also publish calorific value data for each Local Distribution Zone (or LDZ) see http://www2.nationalgrid.com/UK/Industry-information/Gas-transmission-operational-data/calorific-value-description/

My investigation seemed to show that using National Grid’s CV data, and following the calculations laid out in the Ofgem paper, the final kWh value was actually correct! My assumption is that the CV data quoted on the bill is in error some way.

I would be interested to know if the problem has been fixed or is currently hiding in rounding errors.


I’d be happy to look into this a bit further for you, @BeePee and to pass on your thoughts. If you’d like me to, feel free to send over a private message with your name, DoB and OVO account number.

Lucy
Hi.

My last two bills still show an error. I will ask the ombudsman to investigate further
I am new to OVO and keep similar usage records and have noticed that for my last two statements the calculations are incorrect. I will raise a similar complaint.

As I work in IT I can say that the issue isn't an IT issue - at the very least it wasn't tested correctly after a change 😞
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Hey @BeePee @SimpleSim73,

The fluctuations of the calorific value can occur because we need to round it off to one decimal place. Ofgem state that "for a given gas billing period, suppliers should truncate the average CV to one decimal place. Rounding average CV is not consistent with the Regulations, nor is calculating to more than one decimal place." . More info on this can be found on their website here:
https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2014/08/supplier_guidance_on_cv_calculation.pdf

If you need us to look into this further for you, please get in touch with the Social team on Facebook or Twitter and they’ll be happy to help. Alternatively, if you remain unsatisfied, you can raise a complaint via our complaints web form here: https://www.ovoenergy.com/help/feedback.

Lucy

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