Billing and Statements - What do I need to know?

  • 5 November 2018
  • 30 replies
  • 1259 views

Userlevel 2

We’ve been busy laying the foundations for a new way to manage your online account and as part of this we’re changing the ways that statements and billing are done. This means that when you login, you can now see up-to-date energy charges applied to your balance based on the reading we get from your smart meter every day.

So where did this all start?


We started with up-to-date billing as customers told us that it’s difficult to feel in control of their bills. Especially when you have to wait until the end of the month for a statement. With up-to-date billing you now get a clearer idea of how much your energy use has cost every day.

Billing in detail


Traditionally energy companies would receive meter reads either:
  • From customers reading their own meters and submitting a read.
  • From smart meters directly.
On a specific date each month the energy company would look at the latest meter read they had received to bill you and generate a statement. This might have been based on the latest smart meter read, it might have been based on the last read that a customer submitted or it might be based on an estimation if there was no meter read.

This method of billing is prone to problems at many different stages and often leads to confusing bills, inaccurate estimation, bad Direct Debit recommendations and uncertainty over how much you should be paying.

We often hear from people that these things together can make them anxious as it’s not clear how much their bill was going to cost until their statement was produced. This makes it difficult to budget for energy usage and know if there was anything that needed to be done during the month to help reduce costs. Leading some people to try to estimate their own bills as they couldn’t wait for the statement date.

In the new online account we are aiming to change all of this. We are no longer waiting until a specific day each month to calculate how much your energy has cost you. Instead we will be calculating your energy cost and updating your account each time your smart meter sends us a read.

This means that your balance figure is always an accurate reflection taking into account:
  • The cost of your energy usage, as calculated and billed with each time your smart meter send us a read.
  • Daily standing charges.
  • Payments and refunds.

Statements in detail


As all your information is available in detail online, we will no longer be issuing monthly statements as a way to calculate your balance and communicate your usage and costs to you.

Instead of receiving a regular monthly statement you will only receive statements:
  • At the end of a plan (if you’re leaving us at this point it will be part of your final bill).
  • If you cancel your Direct Debit and we need to discuss payment options with you.
  • If you’re on a two year plan we’ll also send you a statement at the end of your first year.
(If you opt to receive paper statements you will still receive these regularly in the same way).

The information that you would normally see in your statement is all available on the website or app but with the ability to see more clearly how your costs were calculated.

We’d love to hear your feedback on this and how you feel about these changes. Please comment below to share your thoughts and opinions, we value your input!

30 replies

Userlevel 1
Thanks for explaining the rationale behind the change.

Whilst I like the new format I would prefer statements at least quarterly.

I understand OVO likes to have all their accounts in credit so the new system is ideal for people like me with smart meters and who have credit balances which attract the interest reward.

Two other family members are also with OVO but do not have smart meters.They will definitely get a smart meter if you offer them the SMETS2 version instead of the SMETS1 version that I have. However both of them prefer the old billing system!
Userlevel 2
Thanks for explaining the rationale behind the change.

Whilst I like the new format I would prefer statements at least quarterly.

I understand OVO likes to have all their accounts in credit so the new system is ideal for people like me with smart meters and who have credit balances which attract the interest reward.

Two other family members are also with OVO but do not have smart meters.They will definitely get a smart meter if you offer them the SMETS2 version instead of the SMETS1 version that I have. However both of them prefer the old billing system!


Hi @TeeJay

Thanks for your reply. We're looking at ways in which we can make costs available in a downloadable form for those customers who like this aspect of statements. This would contain the costs and transactions already available through the website and app rather than any new information.

This is one of the biggest changes with the new experience and I think one that we need to make clearer. Statements will no longer be how we primarily communicate costs and balances to customers as this information (costs and balances) is available on the website and app, updated throughout the month.

We also know that many people rely on monthly statements to think about and review their energy account and so this change breaks that way of thinking. We are emailing customers with their energy costs each month and will be evolving this monthly communicate into something that we hope will be a more useful and productive way of keeping in touch with their energy account.

I'd be interested to know what your family members prefer about the old system, is it the statements or something else?

Julian.
Userlevel 1


I'd be interested to know what your family members prefer about the old system, is it the statements or something else?

Julian.


Thanks for your reply. You say 'Statements will no longer be how we primarily communicate costs and balances to customers as this information (costs and balances) is available on the website and app, updated throughout the month.'

As my other two family members do not have smart meters they only let you have their readings once a month so their costs and balances can only be updated when they send you readings or are they missing something?
Userlevel 2


Thanks for your reply. You say 'Statements will no longer be how we primarily communicate costs and balances to customers as this information (costs and balances) is available on the website and app, updated throughout the month.'

As my other two family members do not have smart meters they only let you have their readings once a month so their costs and balances can only be updated when they send you readings or are they missing something?


Apologies @teebee I'm only referring to the new smart meter experience. Until your family members have smart meters installed they will remain on the existing system and will continue to be billed how they currently are, using a combination of meter readings and estimates. Sorry for the confusion.
Userlevel 5
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Historically I have kept spreadsheets of electricity and gas usage and compared that to the statements I received and yes, I have found mistakes in the past which I have then been able to correct. Although no mistakes with OVO (yet), I don't necessarily want a statement but where the monthly charges and consumption appear, if a meter reading could be provided, that would partly satisfy me. I can then continue with my checks.

However, no where does it say how much interest reward or self service reward i am getting; this was also what I would check against the statements .
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Following my comment above, if I insert the usage details into my spreadsheet and "fiddle" the meter readings to give the correct results, the meter readings are way out from those that I take manually from the smart meter at the end of every month.

I really think we need statements, I'm not feeling at all happy about these figures now, I would like to have more detail as explained above.
Userlevel 6
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Hi @PeterR1947 a message from Julian below.......

Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to provide it.

>if a meter reading could be provided, that would partly satisfy me

We are working on splitting out the costs for each month onto individual pages on which we will be expanding the information provided. We will definitely be including meter reads on this page.

In the meantime you can view the meter reads we have for you by hovering over the bars on on the usage graphs on the usage page. I appreciate this isn’t very intuitive but we will be improving this early in the New Year.

>However, no where does it say how much interest reward or self service reward i am getting

You will find this information by clicking on “Show charges” link in the section for each month on the “Your Energy” page. Again, this will be clearer on the new page we will have for your costs for each month.

Please note that you won’t see any payment for self service reward until early in January as it is now paid once a quarter (this is unrelated to move to the new online account and is the same in the previous system).

>I really think we need statements, I’m not feeling at all happy about these figures now, I would like to have more detail as explained above.

I hope the new pages will fulfil your requirements, but we are listening to the feedback we’re getting in relation to statements and will be revisiting our approach in response.

For now, if you could send me your account number in a private message I will see that someone provides you with a full breakdown of all your billing information.

Thanks,
Julian
Userlevel 5
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Thanks @Darran_OVO and @Julian_OVO

This solves my problems, November now works out spot on but I have a problem with October which I will PM to you Julian.

Peter
Userlevel 2
Glad to hear it @PeterR1947 . Sorry about the delay, I've been having a few problems posting in the forum.
Userlevel 4
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I'm all for change if it those changes work but I'm not confident OVO can pull this off successfully without any technical errors. I've needed to contact OVO quite a number of times this year due to inaccuracies and billing errors and I fear a new system will only bring about even more complications. I think we should still have a monthly statement, like many people I rely on my monthly statements to check OVO is charging me the correct amount, you know where you are with one of those and if you've downloaded them you don't need to keep logging in to My OVO to check what you've been charged under this newer system. I might even consider leaving OVO if I don't like this new change.
I joined OVO in 2014 and have been very happy with them until the new billing system was introduced at the end of 2018. At no time have I received a communication telling me that monthly statements were no longer being issued. I have just stumbled on this forum (never knew it existed!) and discovered the rationale behind the new system. It seems that some customers don’t like or find monthly statements confusing. Whilst the new system may be helpful to them why should those of us who prefer the traditional monthly downloadable pdf statement, have that option removed? If there is ever a dispute of any kind we no longer have anything concrete on our computers or printed that will help argue our case.
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@windpower

Well said! Like you I prefer the monthly statements so I can use the data to make comparisons at the end of the year. You know where you are with a monthly statement but this new system which I only read about in another forum post seems confusing and less useful. I'm guessing that much of the reasoning behind this new idea is more and more people use mobile phones to access their account. Whilst it might be useful to those people I don't use a mobile phone for anything other than telephoning people. Computers are far more useful and at least they have big screens for short sighted people like myself.

Here's a link to the post about the ending of monthly statements:

https://forum.ovoenergy.com/new-ovo-smart-meter-experience-116/billing-and-statements-what-do-i-need-to-know-5148

Having read the above article and not really understanding how this will work I have a question for OVO..

Q1: If my daily usage is displayed together with standing charges and VAT does that figure reset back to zero after my monthly bill is generated? If not how do I calculate what my next bill will be, do I take off the previous month?

Q2: What about if I want to calculate the number of units I've used throughout the year so I can get a comparison elsewhere, how would I do that?

Vote below to save our monthly bills! 🤓
Does this mean the daily Calorfic Value will be used to calculate the running total for Gas?

WIll the Smart Meter be updated daily with the Calorfic Value?
What value of Calorific Value will be used on the yearly statement on the 2 year fix?

Will it be based on 365 daily values for Calorific Value as supplied to you by National Grid?
Userlevel 2
Hi @Slinky - I understand this concern and the industry doesn’t have a great reputation here. I can try to reassure you that we feel the new system is much more capable at spotting and preventing problems but I think ultimately it is up to us to prove this over time and we are dedicated to doing so.

I’ll respond to your comments regarding monthly statements in further replies below.
Userlevel 2
Hi @windpower @Slinky

Firstly I’d like to thank you for coming to the forum and posting your thoughts. We are reading them and they are influencing our decision making.

During a calendar month we receive readings from your smart meters (every day or month depending on your preference), and every time we do we calculate the consumption and cost since your previous read. We sum this up per calendar month and that is the amount that is charged to your account balance, this has replaced billing on an arbitrary day each month and nothing in between.

Traditionally you would be billed once a month on a date chosen by when the energy industry processes just so happened to complete your switch to a supplier. We have aligned billing to calendar months now as we believe that customers can better compare and understand usage and costs between calendar months than between arbitrary billing months. I’d be interested to know what you think of this approach.

Currently you can see monthly costs and how they have been calculated in the first section of the home page. You can expand each monthly section by clicking on the links to see more detail.

Based on feedback received we’re now in the process of moving monthly charges onto separate pages. The new pages will show detailed charges and discounts for each month and will make it easier to print and store these for your records.
Userlevel 2
Answers to your two specific questions @Slinky :

Q1: If my daily usage is displayed together with standing charges and VAT does that figure reset back to zero after my monthly bill is generated? If not how do I calculate what my next bill will be, do I take off the previous month?

Daily usage is shown independently from standing charge, we want to make it as clear as possible how your charges were calculated. Each calendar month’s charges are independently calculated.

Your total energy charges are worked out on a daily basis and applied to your balance so you’re always up-to-date. The daily usage figures are the amounts of fuel you have consumed. As the amount you are charged is affected by any discounts, upgrades and VAT, we show the total charge calculations separately.

Q2: What about if I want to calculate the number of units I've used throughout the year so I can get a comparison elsewhere, how would I do that?

We currently have some breakdown of usage in the Usage section of the site. We’ve started working on providing a year view of your energy usage on the account. As part of this, we’ll display the annual number of units used.
Userlevel 2
Hi @Russell
Does this mean the daily Calorific Value will be used to calculate the running total for Gas?
WIll the Smart Meter be updated daily with the Calorific Value?
What value of Calorific Value will be used on the yearly statement on the 2 year fix?
Will it be based on 365 daily values for Calorific Value as supplied to you by National Grid?


The daily charges for gas consumption are based on the daily calorific values we received from the National Grid. Unfortunately it isn't possible to update every smart meter with every daily change in calorific value, meters hold a representative calorific value that is used to calculate kWh for gas for the IHD while what you see in your online account is the billed charge using the true calorific value for that day.

Statements will be created using the billing information you see in your online account and as usage will already have been billed for these will be based on the daily calorific values as mentioned above.
Userlevel 4
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@Julian_OVO

Thanks for the feedback and for answering my questions. In fairness I don't yet fully understand this new system and I don't suppose I will until I've seen it in action. So when does it go live? I can't see any changes in my account section yet.

BTW, in your first post you mentioned the following:

  • This method of billing is prone to problems at many different stages and often leads to confusing bills, inaccurate estimation, bad Direct Debit recommendations and uncertainty over how much you should be paying.
My account is currently £509.92 in credit and my direct debit was due to be increased when I changed tariff to a 2 Year fix last November (2018) however I asked that OVO don't increase the DD due to my high credit balance. Will this new system see my DD's reduce? I'm a single person and don't use huge amounts of energy and I would rather invest my huge credit balance rather than OVO get all the interest..
The proposal to move monthly charges onto separate pages and with extra details sounds like an improvement - if I've understood it correctly! Also having complete calendar months 1st day to last day would be excellent and helpful to those of us who have for many years before OVO existed kept our own records in spreadsheets. It sound like OVO are listening.
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I like the idea of billing from the first of each month but how does that work when you start contract mid-month?

I think as long as we have all the same information as was on our monthly statements and all in the same place without us having to visit several pages it could work, as I said before until we actually see how it looks nobody knows for sure. It might be brilliant or it might be a right pain to work with.

Perhaps OVO can show us all a dummy bill so we can decide based on the actual evidence.
How does one get a credit balance refund now? When I try to request a refund I’m told that I cannot get a refund of my balance as I haven’t had a statement generated.

Now very confused!
What does my account balance not equal to the amount I have paid minus my charges?
should my account balance be the same as my latest statement?
Userlevel 6
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How does one get a credit balance refund now? When I try to request a refund I’m told that I cannot get a refund of my balance as I haven’t had a statement generated.

There's a lot of topics on this, @falkirk81

Click here to see them all, there's a few possible ways, so have a look at the topic titles to see which one fits your situation!

@emlouw - this will be because there's a 'balance brought forward' figure, from the previous bill.

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