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New self-service reward - what's changing?



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Userlevel 7
@swakeman apologies if some of the other responses and questions here haven't answered all of yours so far.

To hopefully address this, as long as you provide meter readings online at least once every 3 months you won't lose your reward. You can do this easily yourself online and is the best way to avoid any sudden direct debit increase which kind of points towards answering part of your other question. If you are going on holiday at any point in a 3 month period, and will miss submitting these one month, as long as you submit them before or after you go, that counts as submitting them within the 3 month period, therefore you will keep your reward.

In regard to emailing, this is classed as a contact, and if necessary, then of course you wouldn't lose your reward. These changes are not designed to stop customers contacting us, but to ensure customers are doing their bit by servicing their account online where they can, which they signed up too when they joined and wanted to get the discount.

If you are a customer that would simply prefer to call or email every time you needed to change something or ask a question, you wouldn't be someone that would agree to manage your account online for a discount.

Again more specifically in regards to Direct Debits, we have a page on the website that explains how we calculate this to prevent customers going into debt. If you are able to find an answer to your question online, and need to call, we would of course apply fairness in this situation and have that conversation with you, without it impacting your reward. Again by submitting regular meter readings, will help reduce the variation in Direct Debit changes.
Userlevel 2
@Darran_OVO

Sorry Darran but the T+C's are very specific - emergencies and complaints only. Agreed they do say they will use fair discretion to decide what is an emergency or a complaint but you can't escape how specific the T+C's are - no matter how much you state differently on this forum.

To keep me as a customer - reword the terms and conditions to allow contact if issues can't be resolved online. You would save yourselves a whole lot of hassle. Please pass this feedback on to OVO management.
Userlevel 7
@richardo thanks for your questions. Please see below.

1. If I have to phone you because -
a] my laptop, smart phone, tablet, router or internet are non-functional/down

If the question or issue you have absolutely cannot wait until you are back up and running online, and therefore you need to call, or course you would still get your reward. However if it's not urgent, then there would be no need to call until you were able to get back online.

b] if my direct debit is delayed due to my bank being down
do I lose the reward?

No, if the issue is something out of your control, then you would not lose your reward. Worth noting in this instance, we would automatically re apply for the Direct Debit amount 10 days after the failed attempt, so technically you wouldn't need to do anything as this is an automated process for DD failures.

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?

If you are switching away within your grace period at the end of your contract, you don't need to contact us to cancel your contract as this will happen automatically as part of your new switch. If for any reason you did need to contact us if there was an issue, then you wouldn't lose it and if you did call when you didn't need to, you'd only lose it for that quarter.

3. Will you refuse to continue any phone contact if the customer withholds his/her a/c
number?

No, however the help maybe limited if we are not able to access your account.

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?

The new T&C's are effective from 1st October, the 30 days notice is for the waiving of leaving fees if you decide to switch away which runs from the 19th September.
Userlevel 3
@Darran_OVO

Thanks for your reply addressing my points but this all seems a bit cyclical and your response does not address that these things are changes that are beyond the scope of “we’re making it simpler” or “we’re just changing what it’s called”. There are more strings attached to this reward than before; fact.

I understand that if a customer has signed up to do their business online with you, then the intent on both sides is that they should do that. That is fair. What has changed is that “all online” is now “self service”. Will the names of your products change to reflect this?

Another change is that OVO are judging it based on a quarterly schedule. So if you don’t conform because you send 1 email about something that you could have sorted via self help, then you lose 3 months worth of rewards. That skews the odds towards not receiving the reward. 100% no reward for 33% non-compliance. That is punitive.

Because the reward is given quarterly, it affects the amount of running credit on the account, which affects how much the interest reward payment will be. This skews it in OVO’s favour as customers will be paid less. It’s a small amount on a per customer basis but added over tens of thousands of customers is probably quite significant.

As stated, your assurances are on a forum whereas your revised T&Cs are explicit. That you can’t account for every question and scenario is a bogus argument as it’s why your T&Cs are there and you use terms such as “fair discretion” in them but utterly fail in defining what that is.

Overall, these changes are positive for OVO and represent you clawing more money in by not having to give as much out. Saving money by having lots of customers potentially fall afoul of being eligible for their reward and saving money on staff answering phones or indeed any correspondence at all, even emails now. For this you have not increased the reward. It’s the same amount as it was before it’s just been made harder to get and easier to not be eligible for.
Userlevel 4
@swakeman This is an example of how a company goes from being liked to being disliked by their customers and the wider viewing public. I wonder what MoneySavingExpert has to say on this?

It will only take a few activists who've been (in their eyes) treated unfairly by Ovo and this will blow up in their face. The media love tearing into corporate greed.

Darn shame.
Userlevel 4
This is timely: Ofgem orders energy firms to improve complaints handling

"Following its latest survey, Ofgem has opened compliance cases into First Utility, Ovo Energy and Utilita over their poor handling of customers' grievances."

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45663030
Userlevel 3
@swakeman This is an example of how a company goes from being liked to being disliked by their customers and the wider viewing public. I wonder what MoneySavingExpert has to say on this?

It will only take a few activists who've been (in their eyes) treated unfairly by Ovo and this will blow up in their face. The media love tearing into corporate greed.

Darn shame.


Yes, it is a shame. I thought OVO was one of the very few energy firms that bucked the trend of poor customer service / treatment. The idea that they think their customers are gullible enough to see this change for anything other than what it is, I find leaves a rather bitter taste.

I’ll be shopping about soon. If there’s no customer support advantage anymore then I might as well go back to being purely price sensitive. OVO aren’t in top running for price competitiveness anymore. I fear this change and the way it’s been communicated is going to do them quite a bit of damage. I wonder if it’ll be worth it for them.
Can someone clarify the pinned post please?
My contract with OVO is up soon (Nov) so I will be looking to switch as I dislike the new 'don't contact us' policy. I am also in credit - didn't want to claim this back and have some sort of penalty thrown at me, if my next DD didn't cover my usage. As far as I can see, it is better to claim this back myself, rather than rely on a new provider to agree meter readings - is this correct? If so, in order to avoid any penalty (I think it used to be called an online discount when I signed up but has changed to a reward, which is different entirely!) when is the best time to claim back my refund please?
Thanks
Userlevel 7
@swakeman and @Rooty

All good feedback, and of course we are happy to listen to our customers, after all, that's why we are here.

We are trying to make the process around the discount/reward easier as its actually been confusing for customers previously and we clearly needed to do a better job of communicating what getting the discount or reward means, given customers signed up to it, but a lot of the time wouldn't make good use of all the easy self serve options we provide.

We are of course happy to talk to our customers if they need help and cannot do this online, that is something that doesn't change. Apologies if the changes have caused any confusion around what the expectations are around this.

In regards to the Ofgem report, we are always open to improvements as I mentioned above, customer feedback is key, and are confident that through working with Ofgem we can continue to build on our extremely high standards and swift resolution of issues.

We pride ourselves on great customer service and will be interested to receive the details of the customer responses from this survey, so that we can establish the reason for the scores.

Darran
Userlevel 4
Ovo's dilemma is easy to understand. You charge accounts who do NOT go "all online" £5 pm more than those that go "all online" for a cheaper deal. And yet ... who'd have thought it ... folks who opted for the "all online" option are *still* phoning up, using customer service reps' time.

Pesky customers.

Personally I'd have sucked it up and not made a thing of it, but of course that's very easy for me to say if hardly anyone is following the rules and swathes of "all online" customers ring up over trivial. :D

It may be that in truth Ovo have little intention of penalising any but the most persistent abuser of their good nature. (I've been in the sort of meetings you guys must surely have been having behind the scenes over this contentious T&C change.) It might in reality be 3 strikes, or 5 or 10 in a billing period, but I guess you aren't going to tell. :8
Userlevel 2
This is why I asked if OVO couldn't quantify the size of the problem where customers ring up when they shouldn't. If the numbers are relatively small and this isn't just a cost-cutting exercise, then you might expect OVO would just deal with the "offenders", rather than penalising everyone (because I feel penalised by this change, I certainly think twice before I ring any company, certainly not something I do for fun, and this change will discourage me further).
Userlevel 4
@SCR I expect that's "privileged" info they are never going to share with the likes of us mere mortals, but otherwise I agree with what you say. I guess they figured that discouraging with a very broad brush in T&Cs -- even while potentially upsetting / losing a few customers along the way -- allows them the discretion to penalise, whereas previously they could not?

And the more I think about it, the less likely I feel that Ovo will go overboard on this. Financial suicide if they did. We'll just have to wait and see.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
For someone who loves to get rewards etc I am normally right there! But Surely you go with a renewable energy supplier to help the environment? Maybe I am not seeing the big picture here but if OVO turned around and said I will no longer be receiving any rewards on my tariff, I don't think I would care because at the end of the day, I am not paying ignorant fossil fuel burning companies such as British Gas. Keep doing what you believe is best OVO, I will always be a customer.
Userlevel 3
For someone who loves to get rewards etc I am normally right there! But Surely you go with a renewable energy supplier to help the environment? Maybe I am not seeing the big picture here but if OVO turned around and said I will no longer be receiving any rewards on my tariff, I don't think I would care because at the end of the day, I am not paying ignorant fossil fuel burning companies such as British Gas. Keep doing what you believe is best OVO, I will always be a customer.

You label BG as an ignorant company, but this move by OVO is ignorant.

Regardless of one's personal reasons for choosing OVO, you cannot get away from the fact that they are changing the deal for the worse.

I'm just repeating myself now but these changes make it less likely customers will be rewarded and the alter the definition of the plans from being 'all online' to ' don't interact with a human being in customer service' or else you're getting nothing.

My direct debit is £60 pcm and my last statement based on actual readings was £59. OVO recommends I up my DD to £94. Not doing that because it's overkill. Two people living in a modern 2 bed flat. If I don't up my DD now I'm going to be £5 per month worse off. Got me over a barrel with that as I have to pay more now to continue to save in 3 months time. What a joke.

Note that this wasn't stipulated before in order for people to get their discount. I've never run a negative balance with them in the last 3 years. I've contacted them maybe once per year by email, never even tried to call them.

What do I get for this? A rug pull of a contract change dressed up as a simplification. OVO might be more environmental and that's a good thing, but you can be an eco warrior and still fudge up customer relations. This is a perfect example of that. It is nothing but crap for customers. It's not simpler, it's not fairer, it's not clearer. It is the complete opposite.
Userlevel 3
This is why I asked if OVO couldn't quantify the size of the problem where customers ring up when they shouldn't. If the numbers are relatively small and this isn't just a cost-cutting exercise, then you might expect OVO would just deal with the "offenders", rather than penalising everyone (because I feel penalised by this change, I certainly think twice before I ring any company, certainly not something I do for fun, and this change will discourage me further).

I agree wholeheartedly. There is no way that this change is a response to customers not playing by the rules. If they agreed to all online contact and support and then call you for something they could do online then you tell THAT customer that they can't have the discount because they have failed to abide by the terms.

What you don't do is let the actions of a few influence how you treat all of your customers and then add additional hoops through which they need to jump. I'm so frustrated by the fact that not only have they done this they're trying to put a positive spin on it. It's absolute garbage.
Userlevel 3
@swakeman and @Rooty

All good feedback, and of course we are happy to listen to our customers, after all, that's why we are here.

We are trying to make the process around the discount/reward easier as its actually been confusing for customers previously and we clearly needed to do a better job of communicating what getting the discount or reward means, given customers signed up to it, but a lot of the time wouldn't make good use of all the easy self serve options we provide.

We are of course happy to talk to our customers if they need help and cannot do this online, that is something that doesn't change. Apologies if the changes have caused any confusion around what the expectations are around this.

In regards to the Ofgem report, we are always open to improvements as I mentioned above, customer feedback is key, and are confident that through working with Ofgem we can continue to build on our extremely high standards and swift resolution of issues.

We pride ourselves on great customer service and will be interested to receive the details of the customer responses from this survey, so that we can establish the reason for the scores.

Darran


We are trying to make the process around the discount/reward easier as its actually been confusing for customers previously.

I was not confused by it. I thought it was quite straightforward and the reason I thought that is because it was. It isn't anymore. It's broken up into quarters instead of months and there are additional clauses in the contract that customers must abide by.


...and we clearly needed to do a better job of communicating what getting the discount or reward means

No offence, but this is marketing hyperbole. The very fact that this topic is here and has created so many questions suggests that the changes are not well explained and have taken some people by surprise.

We pride ourselves on great customer service and will be interested to receive the details of the customer responses from this survey, so that we can establish the reason for the scores.

Priding yourselves on great customer service is laudable. Admittedly I have found your customer service to be fine. These changes however, represent OVO's intention to reduce human customer interaction. You cannot deny this. I would put it to you that improving customer service and reducing customer service have an inverse correlation. You don't do something better by providing less of it unless it's so amazing that further contact isn't needed.

I will also put it to you that if an Ofgem report indicates that customer complaints are increasing disproportionately compared to your customer base, that you have a problem somewhere. Worryingly, this is before this very negative change in your terms has come about as well which I think will serve to make this worse for OVO. I can speak only for myself but I am extremely disappointed and feel that this move is a betrayal to customers who abide by your previous rules and caused you no issues.
Userlevel 7
Badge +3

Erm @swakeman,
 

My direct debit is £60 pcm and my last statement based on actual readings was £59. OVO recommends I up my DD to £94. Not doing that because it's overkill. Two people living in a modern 2 bed flat. If I don't up my DD now I'm going to be £5 per month worse off. Got me over a barrel with that as I have to pay more now to continue to save in 3 months time.


That's a complaint you're making.

Customer Services will continue to respond to complaints without risk to your quarterly Loyalty Bonus.

Just send an email and put the word Complaint in the subject line and at the start of the body text.

Userlevel 3

Erm @swakeman,
 

My direct debit is £60 pcm and my last statement based on actual readings was £59. OVO recommends I up my DD to £94. Not doing that because it's overkill. Two people living in a modern 2 bed flat. If I don't up my DD now I'm going to be £5 per month worse off. Got me over a barrel with that as I have to pay more now to continue to save in 3 months time.


That's a complaint you're making.

Customer Services will continue to respond to complaints without risk to your quarterly Loyalty Bonus.

Just send an email  and put the word Complaint in the subject line and at the start of the body text.

 


It is and isn't. How it pertains to my individual account is one thing, yes that could be a complaint about their recommended DD being too high.

But please don't misunderstand. If there's a complaint here it's that the DD amount I and any customer pays now forms part of the eligibility criteria for receiving a discount. It didn't before this change. It is this that I am taking issue with because the ramifications of that are far further reaching in scope beyond my personal DD amount. To focus on that would draw attention away from the concerns here.

Again though, we're looking at it as a fire to put out "it's a complaint so it's okay". These fires have been started by OVO thanks to this new policy to not contact them.

I fully expect them to change the naming for their tarfiffs as a result of this. They cannot use "all online" and disallow email contact. They need to rename them to "self serve" or "self managed". Removing email and online form contact affects this labelling and is misleading.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Ah... OK, @swakeman.

Well that too is a complaint!

But in this case it's not one which would best routed through Customer Services.

You could write to a Director. As a Limited Company, all Company Officers (eg Directors) are named on the Companies House Register.

Or you could do what I did a moment ago and searched online for "OVO Officer Manager" which turned up with a number of named people and their Managerial Role who might better suit the policy matter you're trying to raise. A Director is a bit too high for an initial communication.

I think you could head your letter "Rewards Policy" just to make sure the recipient doesn't misconstrue it as a customer complaint.

And I think you need to identify two separate issues for which you'd like a response:

a. That monthly payments (DD) will now need to be higher in order to not prejudge the possibility of a loyalty payment being earned at the end of each quarter.

That also means OVO will appear unfavourably in online comparison searches, which is detrimental to the Company.

b. That you feel email communications and/or the online web-form are an implied and necessary part of handling an account online. These should not count against payment of a loyalty bonus.


If you maintain complete objectivity and politeness, you may find that your arguments are well received and taken on-board. I have made similar points in the past, and had a measure of success in seeing them implemented.

By the way:- OVO's Vacancies Page shows that they are currently seeking to recruit a new Head of Regulation and Compliance as well as a Head of Customer Care. So an Acting Manager may not immediately implement your suggestions in the meantime, preferring to leave policy matters to the incoming post-holder.

Nevertheless, I still think your points are worth making.
Userlevel 4
I fully expect them to change the naming for their tarfiffs as a result of this. They cannot use "all online" and disallow email contact. They need to rename them to "self serve" or "self managed". Removing email and online form contact affects this labelling and is misleading.


This. It is not "all online" if you aren't allowed to email. I'm no lawyer (surprise!) but I reckon that's something that could be raised with the relevant regulatory authorities.

Ovo have brought this on themselves and eventually it will come back to bite them. Sticking with fires, it's like watching the start of a bonfire: will it light slowly or will it go whoosh in flames.
Userlevel 7
Badge +2
For someone who loves to get rewards etc I am normally right there! But Surely you go with a renewable energy supplier to help the environment? Maybe I am not seeing the big picture here but if OVO turned around and said I will no longer be receiving any rewards on my tariff, I don't think I would care because at the end of the day, I am not paying ignorant fossil fuel burning companies such as British Gas. Keep doing what you believe is best OVO, I will always be a customer.

You label BG as an ignorant company, but this move by OVO is ignorant.

Regardless of one's personal reasons for choosing OVO, you cannot get away from the fact that they are changing the deal for the worse.

I'm just repeating myself now but these changes make it less likely customers will be rewarded and the alter the definition of the plans from being 'all online' to ' don't interact with a human being in customer service' or else you're getting nothing.

My direct debit is £60 pcm and my last statement based on actual readings was £59. OVO recommends I up my DD to £94. Not doing that because it's overkill. Two people living in a modern 2 bed flat. If I don't up my DD now I'm going to be £5 per month worse off. Got me over a barrel with that as I have to pay more now to continue to save in 3 months time. What a joke.

Note that this wasn't stipulated before in order for people to get their discount. I've never run a negative balance with them in the last 3 years. I've contacted them maybe once per year by email, never even tried to call them.

What do I get for this? A rug pull of a contract change dressed up as a simplification. OVO might be more environmental and that's a good thing, but you can be an eco warrior and still fudge up customer relations. This is a perfect example of that. It is nothing but crap for customers. It's not simpler, it's not fairer, it's not clearer. It is the complete opposite.


I label British Gas as an Ignorant company because they are.... I'd rather get no benefits or discount and be with a renewable energy supplier than to pay a fossil burning company who support fracking! Maybe I really am not seeing the big picture in this reward service but maybe people need to lighten up and realise being with OVO is meaning one less customer with arrogant and ignorant energy suppliers such as BG!
@Darran_OVO

I received notification of the T&Cs change on the 2nd October at 12.31pm - how does that give me time to raise a query on these T&Cs, given they came into play on the 1st October!!!!!! Looks like like I'll loose my first quarterly reward if I call now!!!!

The issue over the recommended payment is utterly unworkable. Note the following:

I pay £102 every month regardless - 2 weeks ago my recommended payment by OVO was £110 and yet 2 weeks later after receiving a further monthly payment the recommended amount is now £75.

I don't have time nor the inclination to keep messing about with DD and given the fact that changes to DDs take about 4-5 working days to be implemented at the bank.
Userlevel 1
Just to clarify; after being an online customer for a number of years now, never missing a payment, always getting the readings in on time, keeping ample £'s in credit - just in case - but paying just £10 p.m. under your recommended amount - I'm going to lose the reward ? Seems a little unfair to me or have I missed something ? Why try and fix something that's not broken ?

So to ensure I don't lose out, you want me to pay more, is that it ? Even when it's not necessary to do so as my account has been managed perfectly well to date. Makes no sense. If I pay more, the amount of dual fuel I use isn't likely to change - barring an Arctic winter of course - which means you'll pay more (albeit pennies) in the accumulating interest. Again, makes no sense.

Please don't reply by saying I could go elsewhere - I don't want to do that, I'm just trying to understand your logic of changing something that doesn't need changing. Unless of course the majority are having to be messed about because of a dodgy minority.....

TIA
Kevin
Userlevel 1
Hi
I've been an loyal OVO customer for many years and at present on a 2 year fixed until 13/4/2019. I am in credit by £124.53 and OVO, in previous years has paid my credit back as I had too much in the bank.

I read with interest that one of the conditions of continuing to receive the above reward, was to pay at least the recommended, or over, monthly amount. I look at my recommended amount and it is £12 more than I am paying each month.

How can OVO justify this amount, when I am always in credit?
Also as I have decided to continue my original payments until I see my credit diminishing, I am now going to lose my rewards?
I( know exactly how you feel. I have three months left on my contract, am £260 in credit and have been told to increase my direct debit from £129 to £175 a month. Nonsense! My last bill was £20 less than my direct debit. I left my previous supplier for this sort of tactic and I will be leaving OVO because of it.I used to recommend them - I won't be in future.

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