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New self-service reward - what's changing?



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Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

It doesn't explain my query at all.

You are saying that unless I pay the minimum you demand you will not provide the reward - even though the minimum you have set means I will be in credit.

I have a unique circumstance in that I have 1 gas and 2 electric meters on my account. One of the electric meters isn't used (it's in an outbuilding). You are assuming usage for that meter that doesn't exist. This means your recommended minimum is too high. As I am not paying the recommended minimum (which is based on incorrect assumptions) you will now remove my reward - which I think is unfair.
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

Also, how do I use the online tools to discuss direct debit amounts?
Userlevel 2
Also my bill says my expected costs for the year will be circa £1500 but my "recommended" direct debit is £172 per month which is £2064 per year. You need to sort this out. I currently pay £152 per month (£1824 per year) as I like to ensure I am in credit. This smells like it is just a way to remove my online reward.

Graeme
Userlevel 7
Hi @graeme373

Sounds like you have an unique situation to some degree there Graeme.

I'm not sure if you have a 1 year or 2 year contract, as that will change how we review what you are paying to ensure it covers what you are likely to use over the period of your contract.

We have a page on our website that explains how we calculate direct debits in detail, so this should help:

https://www.ovoenergy.com/help/direct-debit-review#calculating-your-new-direct-debit-amount

Let me know if this helps. As I said before, we are not removing the reward, we are just relaunching it to ensure customers are doing what they agreed to do by signing up for the discount in the first place, which was to manage their account online.

Again if there are situations where you cannot do something online yourself, or the information you need is not on the Help section or the forum, then you can of course call. We just want to encourage customers to do their bit by following the terms they signed up to.

Darran
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

Still not answered my questions. If you don't know please just say. To keep it simple...

How do I know in advance of calling if I will lose the reward?
How do I appeal a decision to remove my reward?
How do I deal with direct debit issues online?
Will I lose the reward if I don't pay your recommended minimum?

My contract ends in less than a year so it seems ridiculous that on my bill for the year you estimate £1500 but want over £2000 in direct debit payments (especially when already in credit).
Userlevel 3
The more I think about this the more questions is raises…

I am on a fixed rate online tariff running for 2 years from mid November 2017 to mid November 2019. The new contract included the online discount of £30 per fuel per year – totaling £60 per year for gas and electricity in the contract.

Assuming I do not contact Ovo and I am entitled to the £60 for the second year of my contract running from November 2018 to November 2019 , the last discount would be applied on 1st Oct 2019. What happens to the discount I should get from 1st October 2019 to the end of my contract if I were to change tariff or move suppliers when the contract ends? If it is not applied pro-rata it means I am not getting the full £60 for the second year of my contract so does this mean that OVO are changing the terms I signed up to when taking on the 2 year contract which was supposed to be fixed for 2 years??

Also what happens to those starting a new customers with a new contract part way through a three monthly period, do they get the same discount?

It does not sound like this change has not been thought through- surely the 3 monthly dates should relate to the dates on your contract?


Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Phil


They have thought it through. The change is effectively a material modification of the contract you are referencing in respect to "self service discount". That is why, if you do not agree with the changes, they've stated in their communication that you can leave your contract early without penalty for 30 days after the change takes effect.

I must say that I think this is a very anti-customer change and is not in the spirit of what I thought OVO was all about. I also get that the OVO people on here are having to tow the company line which is to spin it as positive simplification. The only thing about it to me that seems simple is that there are now very sticky looking strings attached to getting your discount or reward or whatever you want to call it.

Sorry, but I don't buy that this change has come about because of a portion of customers not playing ball. If that were truly the case then you wouldn't be making what are actually sweeping changes to your contracts. It might be cynical of me but like I stated before, this makes it MUCH more likely that a customer will fall afoul of the conditions of getting this discount and I fail to see anything positive for customers in any of it. You cannot even email customer services as that counts as contact and not self service, which I deem to be different to "all online" because, last I checked, email is an online medium of contact.

Not impressed.
Userlevel 7
@graeme373

Ultimately if you cannot find the answers you need online or cannot self serve your account for any reason as we don't provide that facility, you won't lose the reward by getting in touch.

In simple terms, all we have changed is the way we reward you, i.e with the online discount, you agree when you signed up to manage your account online and we took that in good faith that you would and agreed to the terms and conditions, now you sign up to the same terms, but we reward you every quarter for doing your bit.

So yes if you need to query you direct debit amount, and cannot find the answers online you are within your right to call and discuss it. Similarly if OVO have caused a problem with your account and you need to call to discuss it, we wouldn't take away the reward for that either as that would be unfair.
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

This is a change to T+C's hence you are allowing contracts to be cancelled penalty free. Don't dress it up as anything other than that.

Afraid you have still not answered my questions. If you don't know please just say. Again...

How do I know in advance of calling if I will lose the reward?
How do I appeal a decision to remove my reward?
How do I deal with direct debit issues online?
Will I lose the reward if I don't pay your recommended minimum?

My contract ends in less than a year so it seems ridiculous that on my bill for the year you estimate £1500 but want over £2000 in direct debit payments (especially when already in credit).
Userlevel 3
@graeme373

Ultimately if you cannot find the answers you need online or cannot self serve your account for any reason as we don't provide that facility, you won't lose the reward by getting in touch.

In simple terms, all we have changed is the way we reward you, i.e with the online discount, you agree when you signed up to manage your account online and we took that in good faith that you would and agreed to the terms and conditions, now you sign up to the same terms, but we reward you every quarter for doing your bit.

So yes if you need to query you direct debit amount, and cannot find the answers online you are within your right to call and discuss it. Similarly if OVO have caused a problem with your account and you need to call to discuss it, we wouldn't take away the reward for that either as that would be unfair.


That's not strictly true though is it? The way you 'reward' the customer has changed, but so have the terms of being given the reward.

I see it as follows:

1) You have changed your language from 'discount' to 'reward'. This has more implications to it in a contract than you are making clear. A reward is something that is issued in recognition of something whereas a discount is a deduction in the price of something. This affects things such as OVO's obligations with respect to the customer. You are not obligated to 'reward' anything and state this in the contract change because it is at 'your fair discretion' - whatever that might be. Nebulous, unspecific language. Not customer friendly. Whereas a discount is due to the customer as before and it would be more difficult for OVO to withhold a discount without good reason.

2) The reward requires that customers 100% self-serve which introduces a change to your plans because before this, customers could contact you by email routinely and still be considered to be doing their business with you 'all online'. Now, you keep assuring people on here that it's fine, not as bad as it sounds etc. What you don't seem to grasp is that your reassurances are only necessary because of the lack of transparency and the language used in your customer communique. So if the customer does have to resort to emailing you because the issue cannot be resolved via self service, you are claiming that this won't affect their reward. So why isn't this made clear in your communication? It doesn't say that. OVO have therefore communicated that point very poorly. The email also doesn't make it clear that if you email to complain, this is allowed and your reward won't be affected. That bit is in the small print at the bottom. That could be misconstrued as discouraging customers from complaining via email.

3) A further change is that in order to be eligible for reward, the customer MUST pay at least the recommended direct debit amount stipulated by OVO. As mentioned by another poster earlier in this thread, your recommended amount can be off by quite a margin. Regardless of that, it is a further change.

By my count that is 3 things that have changed compared to your claimed 1. Could you explain to me how any of those things make it simpler for customers? Can you suggest how any one of those things makes it BETTER for customers compared to how it was before?

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask since OVO are pushing this as a good thing but not providing anything whatsoever to prove that it is.
Userlevel 7
Hi @graeme373

I have answered these questions to a point previously but let's try and keep it simple, as you suggest:

How do I know in advance of calling if I will lose the reward?:
You won't, however providing you have followed the T&C's you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

How do I appeal a decision to remove my reward?:
If the unlikely happens and you don't receive the reward you signed up to get at the end of the quarter, you'd be within your rights to raise a complaint.

How do I deal with direct debit issues online?:
As I stated previously, you can manage you Direct Debit online via MyOVO and find loads of information in our Help section on the website about Direct Debits, but again if you cannot achieve what you need to online as there is a problem, or if you have questions about your Direct Debit that are not answered on the website, then of course you can call.

Will I lose the reward if I don't pay your recommended minimum?:
We have processes in place to ensure you are paying the right amount. If we recommend a change we will notify you of this and you can manage this yourself via MyOVO. If you don't change it yourself, we will notify you that we will change it for you, as we want to make sure at the end of your contract with us, you don't have any debt. Again, if there is a problem with this process that cannot be resolved online, you can of course call us and still receive the reward.

Hope this is now clear.
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

Let me respond to each answer...

How do I know in advance of calling if I will lose the reward?:
The T+C's say I can only contact you in an emergency or to raise a complaint.

How do I deal with direct debit issues online?:
Not all direct debit issues can be dealt with online (e.g. when I want to query the recommended amount). The T+Cs say I can only call to raise a complaint or in an emergency so I can't call to discuss my direct debit.

Will I lose the reward if I don't pay your recommended minimum?:
... "Again, if there is a problem with this process that cannot be resolved online, you can of course call us and still receive the reward."
Not according to your terms and conditions I can't
Userlevel 7
Firstly, apologies @darian690118 this response was meant for me!!

@graeme373, if we are going to reward customers with £15 per quarter, then we need to set some expectations, hence the T&C's stating only contacting if it's an emergency or complaint. All calls are recorded and logged by the agents so we can track why customers called us, it's how we continually improve our service.

As I said if you call because you need to query something that you cannot get the answer for online or cannot self serve to resolve an issue we will be able to track this and still give you the reward at the end of the quarter.
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO
The statement "you can manage you Direct Debit online via MyOVO" is inaccurate. You state what you will take and you then take it. Please let me know if I'm wrong about this - is there anywhere within MyOVO where you can set the value of your direct debit payments?

A couple of years ago, when I was working away from home and my energy usage was negligible, I contacted you by phone, you were very helpful and reduced my monthly direct debit. However, you then estimated my energy usage without taking my notified absence into account and increased my direct debits to a ridiculous level for an empty house with only wi fi and a fridge freezer running. To the best of my knowledge, there wasn't anything I could have done about this (other than submit my own fabricated energy readings).
Userlevel 7
Hi @SCR

Thanks for your comments on this. Appreciate there will be a lot of questions around this and we will do our best to answer them.

In response to you being able to amend your Direct Debit amount, you can do this via MyOVO by clicking on Payments. There is an option here to change your Direct Debit. There will always be a minimum that is set as we wouldn't allow you to set your Direct Debit to a lower amount that will not cover your usage, but can can increase it in line with any recommendations we make based on what you have used so far in your contract and what we think you will use.

You can also chose to pay more than the minimum amount to build up a credit which will help ensure any changes to your Direct Debit should be minimal, you'll also earn 3% interest on any credit you have in your account.

In regards to the example you gave above in regards to a reason why you needed to call, absolutely, it would seem that there was nothing you could about that yourself, so of course you were right to call and if the same situation came up again, you would need to call us. In that situation, you would still get the reward as you needed to contact us. Even though you advised us you were away, our system would have still needed meter readings, hence if you were not there it would have generated an estimated one.

Darran
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

"As I said if you call because you need to query something that you cannot get the answer for online or cannot self serve to resolve an issue we will be able to track this and still give you the reward at the end of the quarter."

That's your opinion. Why do the new T+Cs not state this?
Userlevel 7
@graeme373

There are so many different reasons that a customer may need to call us that mean they would still qualify for the reward. It would be impossible for us to list these out in the T&C's.
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

Sorry that's a poor response. You specifically state in the T+Cs complaints or emergencies only. Why do the T+Cs not say something like

You will still be eligible for the reward if you contact us in relation to a query that cannot be resolved online.

You could state something like this. You don't.
Userlevel 7
@graeme373

It also says in the T&C's that we will use fair discretion at all times for situations like this.
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

"'Self-serve' means that you use all online tools available such as My OVO, the OVO Energy app and OVO Help to manage your account instead of contacting us (by any means, including phone, email or social media), unless you want to make a complaint or you have an emergency."

Anyway, we are not getting anywhere. I'll bow out now.

This is a disappointing and anti-customer change in conditions from OVO. I will move to another supplier.
Userlevel 7
Sorry you feel that way @graeme373 but appreciate your views and comment nonetheless.
Userlevel 3
I note none of the points I've raised have been answered. Although I have a missed call from OVO which seems more than a little coincidental as I don't think you've ever called me.

Another question. It says that in order to be eligible for the reward I must submit monthly meter readings online. What happens if I miss one by accident or e.g. I am away on holiday during that window of submission where it would be accurate? Can I, for instance, submit my readings the day before I go away - 15 days before the readings are due for argument's sake. Would this still be counted as me submitting accurate and timely readings? If not, is there a self-service facility where I can notify you that I will be going away and my readings will be early?
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
I can answer that one @swakeman! When I first opened an OVO account at the end of 2017, I ignored the preferred meter-reading day (13th) and instead provided my readings on 1st of each month.

The OVO billing system can cope with this. It still used my readings as its guideline, and estimated the next 13 days based on that guideline. I don't think it was more than £5 out each month... which is perfectly reasonable.

I seriously doubt that OVO's billing system has an algorithm inbuilt to it which could decline paying out the quarterly reward if it "thought" the meter readings weren't being supplied in an accurate or timely manner!

Of course, if someone doesn't provide any meter readings for six months, and then contacts Customer Support to complain that their Direct Debit is too high, then they really can't expect to have OVO handle that call without loss of their Reward!

But even then, if CS notice that the customer is on the Priority Services Register, I expect they'll enquire if they are having difficulty reading the meter. I'm confident that common Sense can prevail under those circumstances because PSR Customers have to be accommodated according to regulations stipulated by Ofgem.
1. If I have to phone you because -
a] my laptop, smart phone, tablet, router or internet are non-functional/down or
b] if my direct debit is delayed due to my bank being down
do I lose the reward?
2. If I email or phone you to cancel my contract [within 50 days of contract end date] as
detailed at 2.5 in Terms and Conditions, do I lose the reward?
3. Will you refuse to continue any phone contact if the customer withholds his/her a/c
number?
4. The 30 days notice detailed in your Self Service email dated 19th Sep - does this run from
the 19th Sep or from 1st Oct?
I see that some of my previous questions have been answered, thanks to everyone for this. I have a few more comments/questions about this.

I thought I would summarise the change as it will impact on me. My monthly bills from Ovo will be £5 higher than they were before the change, this means over three months my credit balance will be £15 lower than it was previously and the 5% interest reward that I receive on the credit balance will also be lower than it would otherwise be. The net effect on this is that on a monthly basis I will be worse off by a little more than £5 and even when the credit is applied at the end of the three month period my credit balance will be slightly lower than under the current arrangement.

In future, it is more likely that if I do have to contact Ovo I would call rather than email as I would want to find out if whether I would still get the “reward” or not as well as dealing with the issue. Will the call centre staff be able to answer this question?

Have Ovo thought about their vulnerable customers who might be too worried to contact Ovo (even in a real emergency such as losing power January) in case it costs them £15?
Userlevel 3
@Transparent Thanks. TBH my question wasn’t valid as looking at the email it says submit readings at least once every 3 months, which answers it. The other points I’ve raised still stand though.

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