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New self-service reward - what's changing?


What constitutes 'an emergency' in sending emails under the new self-serve rules?

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Best answer by Darran_OVO 20 September 2018, 10:28

Updated 16/07/2019
 

 

Hi @Peterlynn

All the information you need is on this page here:

https://www.ovoenergy.com/help/self-service-reward

There is a link to the terms and conditions around what to do in an emergency.

The changes to the self service reward come into effect on 1st October. More details on the Self Service Reward here.

Hope this helps.

Darran

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214 replies

Userlevel 2
This appears to be a very sneaky change by Ovo.

I currently have a large credit on my account.
The amount I pay on my direct debit is less than Ovo's ridiculously high recommended amount. If I paid the recommended amount I would have a huge credit on my account.

With these changes Ovo are now removing my online discount!!!
Extremely angry customer - I'll be leaving. Will probably call every day as well as it looks like i'll be paying for the phone support anyway.
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 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 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 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 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.
Userlevel 2
In the past, when I've had to contact OVO by phone, I've been impressed by their support, in contrast to the frustration generated usually when contacting energy companies. (Darran's glib answers seem at odds with this though.) This is why I've stuck with them when they ceased to be the cheapest energy supplier and so I feel I'm already effectively paying for support. If they are withdrawing this in the name of simplification, then there is no reason for me not to switch to a cheaper company at the end of my contract.
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?
Userlevel 1
I am more than disappointed to learn that OVO now intends to financially penalise me if I need to contact OVO via email or telephone. I contacted my local Citizens' Advice office regarding this and was advised that I should continue to receive the benefits of the contract I have been on (and to get back to them if this was not the case). Do I need to get back to them?
As the letter re update of Ts &Cs was dated 6 November 2018, what is the latest date that I can begin to switch supplier without being charged exit fees?
Why was my October bill (and therefore annual statement) an estimate when I have a smart meter?
Which figure is used to generate the interest credit?
I want a credit refund and reduction in my direct debit if I continue as an OVO customer. Is there a simple and efficient method to do this?
I also feel OVO is patronising its customers when it states that the 'update' is 'easier to understand'. It is not. It is a means of generating more income for OVO. In my opinion. OVO is not 'always looking to improve the way we do things' for customers. Do other customers agree?
Userlevel 2
@susanecarroll1 and @Phil_H

Both of you start your most recent posts by saying you're sorry. Please don't. The people who should be apologising are the Ovo representatives who time & time again do not answer the questions put to them.
Hello

I received the email from Ovo this morning about the changes to the terms and conditions relating to the discounts for managing your account online and have a few questions.

As I understand it the new reward will be credited every three months rather than monthly. So this will be £7.50 per fuel (£15 for gas and electricity) every 3 months? I assume it means my monthly bills will be £5 per month higher and I have to wait 3 months to get the credit.

As the new reward is credited three monthly how will this show on my statements- will it show as a separate statement or will it show on the statements for Jan/April/Jul/Oct?

In the terms and conditions it states

Self-serve and manage your account online. This includes having a valid email address at all times, receiving all communications electronically, and using our great online tools such as My OVO and the OVO Energy app where possible, instead of contacting us (whether by phone, email or otherwise) except in the case of an emergency.

What does "in the case of an emergency mean". If I have to contact OVO for something that cannot be answered in My Ovo eg incorrect bills, problems with direct debits or statements not being issued does that mean I loose the £15 for those 3 months?

Some more information on these changes would be useful and how OVO will decide if any contacts made are an "emergency" or not.
I have just increased my monthly direct debit by £5 per month to cover the loss of the monthly discount. Although the reward will be paid if I meet the terms and conditions, the first reward payment is not due until mid January 2019, so I want to ensure my credit balance is maintained at the same level it would have been if this change had not been made.

It is still not clear (despite all the questions and answers on this thread) how this reward will be applied and who will get it and who wont. The Ovo terms and conditions say one thing (eg only emergency contact) and the Ovo Community team on this and other threads are saying another (e.g. contact is OK if you cannot resolve a problem using MyOvo). I cannot believe that in January, Ovo staff will be reviewing every account and any communications in detail to decide who gets the reward, I assume it will be automated i.e. have you met the terms and conditions Yes or No, which does not allow for any interpretation.

I cannot see any benefit to Ovo customers from this change and I am sure it will cause more problems than it solves.
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 1
To Darran OVO

I am sorry but I have just spent another 2 hours looking at My OVO, this forum and your T&Cs. I cannot find an answer to my simple question from yesterday.

I am £124 in credit, with my monthly £70 payments, this always covers my bill. Your recommended DD is £82 each month. If I don't pay this I will lose "my rewards"
Over the years I have rarely contacted you but you have to understand that not every answer to your customers questions are contained in your webpages. Also I don't have the time to trawl through looking for obscure information. So if you dont reply to this, I will then have to call the customer help line and be effectively charged £15. This is not rewarding your loyal customers. I have stayed with you over the years because of your service, despite you no longer being the cheapest energy company.
Please let me know if I have to raise my DD even though I am in credit.
Thank you
Userlevel 1
@adrian774 I don't think it says that you have to provide the readings, just that they be provided at least once every three months, whether it be by you, i.e. a manual read, or by the smart functionality in your meter, i.e. automatically. The message I see at the top of the PAYM Meter Readings page, is No need to give us meter reads as you have a smart meter.
Userlevel 4
I have some sympathy for Ovo insofar as I expect a lot of folks on the "all online" tariffs just phone up Ovo when they have an issue, but given that Ovo are now the sole arbiter of whether we get our £60 a year or not, it leaves me feeling very uncomfortable. I expect customers will be frustrated and the ombudsman kept busy with this change over the coming months and years.

My fixed "deal" is up this time next year and Ovo's treatment of customers will be forefront of my mind (after tariffs).
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 3
This was really disappointing to read @MadelaineJennae

Although we've had some changes to our Terms and Conditions, like the Self Service Reward, our core values have remained that same. We still offer competitive rates and award winning customer service.


I left OVO for the same reason. "Some changes to our Terms and Conditions" you mention as though it's an "also ran" which is at the root of this problem. What I think you have failed, as a company, to grasp, is that quality of implementation and transparency count for a great deal.

This change has been both poorly implemented and completely lacking in transparency. For heaven's sake, it's a T&C change that you have so little specific literature for that your customers are resorting to searching your forums for answers. There is your first indication that you've cocked up.

Another aspect of this is that while your new T&Cs are specific in and of themselves, you have failed to account for the range of questions customers might have. For something that changes a fundamental aspect of your offer to customers you should have bought out an extremely robust FAQ for it to save the effort of answering the same questions repeatedly on the forums. This is to say nothing of the fact that many questions still go unanswered. For instance, not the "will I gen penalised if I do x" but the "why is this not communicated in your literature and why must I instead take the word of someone on a forum?".

You claim to still stand for the same things and to retain your ethos but at no point did you attempt to respond to any of the statements I made about the changes which included but were not limited to:

Poor communication
Lack of transparency
Disadvantaging customers
Making your offering more expensive
Making it less likely that customers will benefit
Fostering a culture of keep quiet and don't contact lest you face the consequences
Conveniently altering the definition of "online contact"

You responded to none of these things on here and they weren't thrown your way with rage, just disappointment. You know what they say though? Not responding IS a response and by not responding to that you told me everything I needed to know.

I'm now with an energy supplier that provides 100% green electricity on all its tariffs, seems fully transparent about how it treats customers. All that AND they're still cheaper than you would be even with my discounts that I would have stopped receiving due to not paying your recommended DD amount which is beyond shambolic.

I leave you disappointed and with this. OVO - actions speak louder than words.
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).
Hello Darran

I am afraid this does not answer the question, I have already ready this which is why I was asking these questions.

1) As I understand it the new reward will be credited every three months rather than monthly. So this will be £7.50 per fuel (£15 for gas and electricity) every 3 months? I assume it means my monthly bills will be £5 per month higher and I have to wait 3 months to get the credit.

2) As the new reward is credited three monthly how will this show on my statements- will it show as a separate statement or will it show on the statements for Jan/April/Jul/Oct?


3) Ovo needs to clarify what an "emergency" is as in my question above? i.e.

What does "in the case of an emergency mean". If I have to contact OVO for something that cannot be answered in My Ovo eg incorrect bills, problems with direct debits or statements not being issued does that mean I loose the £15 for those 3 months?

Thanks

Phil
Hi Darran

Thanks for providing some clarification ie Hey @Phil_H

If OVO have caused an issue, and its something that you physically cannot find information on or manage yourselves via your account, then we wouldn't revoke the reward for that.

Darran


and



@Phil_H in line with the above, the T&C's will be updated on the website on the 1st October, so please review them then to clarify your question above. Thank you for the feedback so far.


Based on what you have written above and to avoid confusion can I ask that the terms and conditions are modified eg

Self-serve and manage your account online. This includes having a valid email address at all times, receiving all communications electronically, and using our great online tools such as My OVO and the OVO Energy app where possible, instead of contacting us (whether by phone, email or otherwise) except in the case of (remove -emergency) (replace with- account issues that cannot be resolved using the online tools). - or words to this effect.

Thanks

Phil
Thanks Nancy. Darran's comment above probably answers my question.
Another very unhappy customer. I have only just noticed the impact of the change to this part of our contract; and the recommended monthly amount in particular. I have tried to read all the comments but lost the will to live, the 2/5 pages I have been through have similar feelings to me. I challenged OVO's excessively conservative estimates despite 2 years of actual usage the estimates and monthly recommendations have remained far too high. It currently stands at 20% above the actual amount, even by the estimates on the bill, totally disjointed. Because I failed to note this change I will lose the £15 for this quarter and having been an OVO customer for over 5 years and 3 properties this is galling.

So 3 questions after that rant:
- How can I challenge your calculation for my monthly payment?
- Are you willing to give me the 'reward' for this month if I increase the payment
- And finally, are OVO really going to persist with the current arrangement and lose me and all these other customers when our accounts come up for renewal?


We're in exactly the same position as @AndyB63. We're in our third year as Ovo customers. We chose them because we liked their ethos - both in terms of green energy and the foundation. We also live in Bristol and liked the idea of supporting a local business.

We've given meter readings on time, every month, without fail. Our account has a credit balance, and Ovo's recommended monthly payment usually looks absurdly high, and is continually fluctuating.

We've always managed our account entirely online. We'd missed the fact that Ovo will now only give you the reward if you pay their recommended amount - something we don't have the power to question without contacting Ovo, and so losing the reward in any event.

Ovo claimed that the change was to make things simpler and easier to understand. I agree with comments made by others that this was highly patronising - and disingenuous to boot. The changes are quite clearly geared at removing the £5 per month reward from as many customers as possible. And since it's now quartery rather than monthly, that's three months lost in one go. We - like many others - won't be hanging around when our contract comes up for renewal. Nice own goal, Ovo! We're bitterly disappointed in you.
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 2
And they have given up replying.

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