Solved

Is it legal for OVO to open an account in my name without permission after moving out?

  • 9 September 2022
  • 53 replies
  • 4213 views

Hi there.

To set the scene…..

My partner was an OVO customer in her old rented house. Even though I eventually moved in with her, the OVO bill stayed solely in her name, as it always had.

In Feb 2022 we got our first house together. We moved on Feb 14th and our tenancy ended on March 1st. My partner contacted OVO as she wished to take the account with us - but they wouldn’t offer the same tariff, so she told them we were leaving the property and wanted to cancel. She paid off the outstanding on the account, along with an extra month or so as we weren’t quite at the end of the contract.

Fast forward to mid-August. We’ve been moved 6 months, and I get a letter from OVO in my name (odd, as I’ve never been an OVO customer, they’ve never had my details). It was sent to the old address, and luckily only found its way to me as Royal Mail are still redirecting. If not for that, I wouldn’t even know about this.

The letter was a bill in my name for energy usage (not very much, mostly standing charge - I assume the property is still empty), but they’re trying to charge me £130 from March 5th (after we moved out and the tenancy ended) up until present day.

Basically, they’ve decided that they want someone to pay standing charge and trickle usage on an empty house (which should be the landlord or the letting agency), but they’ve clearly looked on the old electoral register, found my name and set up an account without permission or without ever contacting me.

I called OVO and explained all of this to the guy I spoke to. He said he would get it cancelled, and I’d get a call within 5 working days to let me know the outstanding debt had been scrubbed. I’d heard nothing until a week later when I received a letter (again, sent to the old house and redirected) saying “Your account has been cancelled, Sorry to see you go”, but still presenting me with a settlement bill for £130.

I tried to call OVO again, but couldn’t get through on the phone because of the constant queues. I went through their complaints procedure via email, and a few days later got a response telling me that they couldn’t talk to me about the account as the email address I had messaged them from didn’t match the address on the account (there was no address on the account, as I had no part in creating it).

I tried phoning again, and did get to speak to someone. After explaining everything once again, he discovered that the first person I had spoken to the week before had made a mistake and processed it as a cancellation. He took some extra details from me (including a contact number and email address) and said I would need to send them a copy of the tenancy agreement for when we moved in and when we left.

There are several issues with this: The tenancy agreement was in my partner’s name, not mine. All of the paperwork was online through the letting agency, and we lost access to that after the tenancy ended. And even if we did have anything printed, we haven’t kept paperwork for a rented house that we moved out of half-a-year ago.

Now that OVO have my email address on file, I decided to complain via email again. This time adding that I can’t give them a copy of the tenancy agreement and also explaining that it shouldn't be down to me to prove that I don’t live at this address when they set up an account in my name with no proof that I did live at this address. They need to get this sorted, it’s their mistake.

This email was sent on August 31st. It’s now September 9th and I’ve heard nothing other than a text message a couple of days ago saying “please pay your £130 bill”.


TL;DR - OVO set up an account in my name for a property that I moved out of over 6 months ago, without contacting me at any stage. I’ve never been their customer or had any contact with them. I’m now having to jump through hoops to get them to fix their issue and I’m getting nowhere.

Is what they have done even legal?

What should I do next? Who do I speak to? How do I follow this up to get this sorted?

I find it absolutely disgusting that a company can just create an account and set up a bill in the name of someone they’ve never had any dealings with.

icon

Best answer by Tim_OVO 12 September 2022, 10:46

View original

53 replies

Userlevel 7

Updated on 30/08/23 by Emmanuelle_OVO

Hi @scamvictim and thanks for sharing this negative experience on the forum. My name’s Tim, I work for OVO, and I can understand completely how frustrating that must’ve been. Let me help as best I can. 

 

Is it legal? Yes for change of tenancy scenarios, utility companies like energy and water sometimes have to create accounts based on information provided by people other than those actually responsible for the address’s utilities. It should be the landlord/lettings agent, and then the new tenants or owners, that reach out and give dates and readings. Sometimes the old tenant may give details of the new tenant, or the lettings agent does, or ‘ track and trace’. Sometimes a company may just address the bills to ‘the occupier. It’s a bit of guesswork in the absence of concrete information. 

 

In your case, your partner did everything right in notifying us of the move out. By the sounds of it, no one got in contact with OVO after and the guessing started then. Clearly it was a bad guess. Then follows a number of service failures from OVO.

 

In short, you don’t need to worry about the balance or the bills. You’ve done so much already by contacting OVO and getting your email address linked up. That complaint email will be in a queue. Response times are longer than usually at the moment as we deal with higher than usual contact volumes relating to the price cap and energy crisis. But we’ll get back to you. 

 

If in doubt, at the end of this week with no response, why not start an online chat here, and simply link them to this topic? That will save you all the hassle of explaining everything. If that doesn’t get everything sorted, let me know and I’ll ask our Forum_Support team to assist you. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I think if you can show evidence that your son was living somewhere else during that time, it might work. Things like a tenancy agreement for where he actually lives for example.

I’ve explained he was at Uni and when I sold my house and gave them the meter readings and new owners I thought that they may have been able to work out who to bill? But no they actually charged my son as his mobile phone had not been switched over! They now say they will close the complaint as I have not provided the end of tenancy agreement! Totally incompetent 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I see. Documentation from the university showing that he was attending a course there would probably do the trick. Especially if it’s not near the property in question.

Sorry he should not have to provide anything it is down to OVO to provide evidence of a contract not the person to prove he didn’t you seem to have got this muddled up.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I’ve been on this forum for a long time. Experience has shown that OVO is pretty quick to resolve this kind of issue once you satisfy them that you don’t owe anything, especially if you can prove you were living elsewhere at the time.

However, OVO isn’t psychic and they can’t know where you actually are if all the records seem to suggest otherwise. Unfortunately, people have been known to abuse this sort of scenario in the past, so OVO also has to ask for evidence to help make sure you have a legitimate case of mistaken identity.

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

I’ve explained he was at Uni and when I sold my house and gave them the meter readings and new owners I thought that they may have been able to work out who to bill? But no they actually charged my son as his mobile phone had not been switched over! They now say they will close the complaint as I have not provided the end of tenancy agreement! Totally incompetent 

What are you and your son going to do next @dudders ?

Under the circumstances I would double check there is nothing left registered in yours or your sons name at the address if you haven't already. Experian for example provid a free statutory report. 

https://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/statutory-report.html

Phoned and against all odds found a lady called Sarah who listened understood and in 30 minutes cancelled all the charges which are now £1200 to my son. Amazing there is someone who can achieve so much in such a short space of time. I asked for compensation for my 7 weeks of emails, stress, calls WhatsApp online chats and further calls … told as account doesn’t exist anymore they can’t compensate 😂😂🫣🫣🫣 I think not !  Pointed out my account is still live so they can 👍

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Just to let you know, it may take up to a month for Experian records to be updated to remove any black marks left by OVO. I know that OVO does queue these corrections up immediately, but the report only goes back to Experian once a month. It should be completely fixed after that.

I must be very unlucky as two months does seem quick. Proof I’ve moved when they are my current electric supplier seems a bit obvious. As for credit references I don’t need to check Experian I told OVO to check and come back to me if they have and if so correct it. Companies need to take responsibility to resolve issues they create not us doing it for them. As not all customers have the know how to do so 

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

I must be very unlucky as two months does seem quick. Proof I’ve moved when they are my current electric supplier seems a bit obvious. As for credit references I don’t need to check Experian I told OVO to check and come back to me if they have and if so correct it. Companies need to take responsibility to resolve issues they create not us doing it for them. As not all customers have the know how to do so 

Must admit i wasn't thinking about ovo at all when i mentioned experian. i didn't mean check for anything they might have done. 

I know i found it useful to check when we moved home that there was nothing we might have forgotten we we moved. Of course you may be 100%  certain you and your son have remembered everything. 

Hope everything works out now  @dudders 

I have just moved into a property supplied by OVO and called the set-up service to set up my account. I have an account number supplied by my landlord but was advised on the phone I couldn’t change this account over to my name but I’d have to set up a brand new account.

A couple of days after the call, I received an email that I can create my online account, which I have done, and upon logging in there are two different accounts and two different account numbers registered to the same address. 

One account is a variable tariff account which I did not set up but seems to have all of the meter details from the property when I click on the ‘plan’ tab and seems to be continuing to accrue debit… as though I have to pay twice for the one property!

The other is the account I actually set up, which was meant to be a fixed rate account but has no details when I go on the ‘plan’ tab. It does have the direct debit set up but I am unable to access the facility to submit meter readings and it doesn’t have any of the details about my gas/electric meters etc.

Without spending another 45 minutes on the phone, is there any way I can merge the two accounts so all the correct information, plan, meter readings, direct debit, etc are all on the one account I set up? Where has this miscellaneous variable tarriff account come from, and why was I made to set up a new account if the existing account was still live?

My landlords (who were the previous residents) have confirmed they closed their account and I did receive a letter in the mail addressed to ‘the occupier’ with the account number asking me to call to set it up so I’m really confused as to what’s happened….

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hey @ElinSarah ,

I’m afraid you’ll need to phone up again to fix this one, sorry! But you could try https://help.ovoenergy.com .

Accounts cannot be merged - one will have to be closed down.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

I suspect what has happened is that an account has been created when the previous resident closed their account. A second account has been created when you phoned up. This shouldn't have happened but customer service should be able to fix it.

I moved from my previous address on the 14th October 2019 and just received letters and emails (don’t know how they got my details) from a debt collection agency called CARS saying i owe £178.80p to SSE now OVO but at my previous address i was on a pre pay meter which had to be topped up via cards/key.

 

I vacated the property on said date so any debt after that  is not my responsibility it’s my landlord. I rang SSE to give moving out meter readings etc.

 

Any help would be appreciated.

 

Thanks.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hi @stesomerville31 ,

Try these numbers as you might be able to resolve this.

0800 069 9831 for OVO’s Collections Team.

0345 070 7395 for SSE’s Collections Team.

If no debt is owed, they can fix this for you and force CARS to back down. If there is money owing (which I consider unlikely!), they can help you get it paid off and should solve the matter.

Ovo Energy are threatening me with debt collectors over monies I don't owe the company. The Energy Ombudsman found in my favour over a botched supply transfer in October 2021 and found that I shouldn’t pay for energy used during the period where they couldn’t take on my supply. After the decision was made and my account moved elsewhere I’m continuously hounded for ‘monies owed’. This had now changed to having debt collectors after me. Customer Services simply do not understand the situation and cannot stop the harrassment.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Sorry for the trouble, but as a forum volunteer I can’t help with this.

Try 0800 069 9831. That team can help

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

Hi @stuartjhilton 

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

That is quite painful to read. 

As well as @Blastoise186 good advice, i would also recommend contacting the Energy Ombudsman again and telling them OVO have failed to comply with their ruling. They may wish to order OVO to pay further compensation. 

Obviously we don't have access to your account so don't know all the details. 

This is quite a serious issue in not complying with a ruling. The ruling creates a civil liability and they can be taken to court. 

I would also recommend emailing the OVO complaint team so it is on record that they have failed to comply with a ruling.

complaints@ovoenergy.com

If you post how you get on i am sure it will help others.

Thanks @Jeffus 

I notified the Ombudsman when I first started receiving the emails. They assured me that Ovo were going to address my account accordingly. When the emails continued I asked whether I needed to take legal action. I never received a response.  Similarly I tried emailing Ovo asking them to resolve but never received a response.

I will try all of the actions you have noted in your response and will update the query in due course. Unfortunately I don’t hold much hope.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I see.

In that case, I’ve placed a marker against this thread that’s visible to all forum moderators. They’ll see it next time they check the queue.

Userlevel 7
Badge +2

Thanks @Jeffus 

I notified the Ombudsman when I first started receiving the emails. They assured me that Ovo were going to address my account accordingly. When the emails continued I asked whether I needed to take legal action. I never received a response.  Similarly I tried emailing Ovo asking them to resolve but never received a response.

I will try all of the actions you have noted in your response and will update the query in due course. Unfortunately I don’t hold much hope.

Make sure you use the complaint email as the regular ovo email address is no longer operational which catches some people out

complaints@ovoenergy.com

If you don't make progress, after that you could try writing to the OVO CEO. Some people have posted that has helped in serious cases. Some customers have asked their local MP to write, they regularly take up case work like this, some are better than others. 

https://www.ovoenergy.com/ovo-newsroom/press-releases/2022/february/new-ceo-announcement

 

Userlevel 7

Hey @stuartjhilton,

 

Really sorry to hear this,

 

If you contact our Support Team on 0330 303 5063 they should be able to transfer you through to the complaints team. As there will be a note on the account regarding the complaint and the Ombudsman remedy they should be able to prioritize getting this sorted for you.

 

I imagine your name needs to be removed from the account opened in error. 

 

Keep us posted with how you get on. 

First course of action was for me to try and discuss this directly with Ovo. However, they wouldn’t discuss the case as it’s more than 2 years old and couldn’t re-open a case that old. They then suggested I open a new complaint - which given they couldn't resolve the original compliant made absolutely no sense to me.

I’ve therefore gone back to the Ombudsman who was very helpful and has passed on the issue back to their resolutions team to take up with Ovo. The issue appears to be that they never provided me with a final settlement statement which they had been instructed to do at the point of the original Ombudsman decision - thus from an Ovo perspective they assume I still have a balance owing on my account. 

Fingers crossed this is resolved and closed in the next few weeks.

It does seem that OVO have issues on the simple process of someone moving in to a property or moving out. I hope this is resolved quickly I’m pleased to say I have nearly resolved the issue I had from moving in October.  They do seem to be getting better not sure if this is due to extra resources or just systemic improvements?

Reply