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Utility Companies Direct Debit Rant

Discussion in 'Home and Garden' started by BYTEr, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. BYTEr

    Hitman

    Joined: Oct 2, 2004

    Posts: 980

    Starting to loathe having direct debits setup with utility companies as it seems their system which calculates direct debits always seems way off.

    I’m with OVO for both gas/electricity and from October 2017 – November 2018 provided a meter reading every month for both energy supplies and my direct debit was always £86 per month and never heard anything. I didn’t provide a meter reading for December or January this year and in February I get a notification from them that they’ve estimated my usage has gone up and will be increasing my DD to £116 per month. After this I decided to actually work out my monthly cost and discovered on average we’ve only used £52 a month, check my bill, and yep we’ve paid a few hundred pounds more than we’ve actually used, yet, somehow they think I should increase my direct debit to something over double my actual usage, which seems to have stemmed from not providing a meter reading for 2 months.

    Anyway, I ring them, and they agree to pay the extra money back, however, stated they can only bring the DD down to £76 a month, despite, from over a years’ worth of actual meter readings, we use £52 a month, so I guess at some point they’ll be paying back another lump sum, I’d rather just pay less a month.

    Something similar, but the opposite has now happened with our water supplier, from October 2017 until now, the DD has been £20 based on their recommendation, in that time, they’ve taken 5 meter readings apparently and now want to increase the DD to £100 as it seems we’ve been using closer to £40 a month and so have fallen behind to the sum of £350. I’ve got no problem paying what we owe, but it just doesn’t make any sense because when working through the meter readings, we’ve never used £20 or less a month, so I don’t get why it’s taken until now to decide to increase our DD, especially since usage has been pretty consistent and should have been obvious from the reading after 6 months it would need to be increased.

    I’ve spoken to the water company and agreed to pay £75 a month to cover usage and start paying what we owe of, although had no real answer to the fact it’s taken 5 meter readings to work out our DD won’t cover our actual usage.

    So basically I’m just ranting, it doesn’t seem too hard to actually calculate usage when provided with meter readings and therefore work out the estimated usage and change the DD accordingly.
     
  2. MonkeyMan

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 9, 2003

    Posts: 5,881

    You don't have to pay by direct debit, just provide monthly readings and pay monthly. Usually slightly more expensive as you lose the DD reduction but you always pay for what you use, winter months will cost more obviously.

    I used to do it as was fed up of them taking more than they needed and messing up my monthly budget. I do wonder what they do with all the excess payments though, probably making some interest on them.

    But yes I agree with your rant, they are useless. :p
     
  3. BYTEr

    Hitman

    Joined: Oct 2, 2004

    Posts: 980

    With gas/elec that's what I was essentially doing, I provided a meter reading every month for 13 months, not once ever using the amount my DD was, it doesn't seem the DD system analyses meter readings very often, because surely, after 13 months of meter readings and not once using the amount the DD is for should trigger the system to lower it. What it actually did was trigger to increase it, so, despite them sending me a reminder every month to submit a meter reading, it's a totally pointless exercise because the DD doesn't seem to change in line.

    Then, with the water company, the meter readings would be telling the system that the last 4 meter readings over a 19 month period, not once would the DD cover a months usage, until suddenly it decides to kick and recommends multiplying the current DD by 5.
     
  4. samcat

    Mobster

    Joined: Nov 8, 2002

    Posts: 3,109

    Location: Near Bristol, Uk

    I am with OVO and I get to set exactly how much I pay each month, smart meter so reading is automatic (and daily). It calculates often how much we use/predicts fairly well.
    Have a chat with them, because if you hadnt of named them I would have said to switch to Ovo as they dont do this!

    Having just added up the last 13 months and divided by 13 its given is a figure a few quid less than our monthly DD (but then it should, as I previously did the same maths)
     
  5. Haggisman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 6, 2004

    Posts: 12,662

    Location: Birmingham

    Ovo actually pay 3% interest on any +ve balance, more than most savings accounts, so worth keeping it in there if you can afford it XD
     
  6. IAmATeaf

    Soldato

    Joined: Apr 3, 2007

    Posts: 6,903

    Location: South of the Watford Gap!

    I'm with NPower and had smart meters installed over 6 months ago, they supposedly managed to get readings for the first few months and now they claim that they haven't been able to for the last few months so still have to send readings. They don't seem to care as why they no longer get readings from the smart meter either. Even with these meters my DD seems to go up to the point where I have around a £400 float on the account, when I ring up they claim that it's in preparation for the winter months even though we are now approaching summer :(
     
  7. vanpeebles

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 22, 2004

    Posts: 5,559

    Location: County Durham

    Never ever use direct debits for utility bills. They will rob you blind.
     
  8. Syla5

    Mobster

    Joined: Feb 13, 2012

    Posts: 4,933

    Ive been in a constant battle with Npower over the last 3 years, they keep spiking the DD up and down, I kept calling to have the DD returned to a fixed value. I have raised multiple complaints and even raised an exec complaint which they have failed to process. This time around I am leaving the DD at their revised value to show them how messed up their process is. Then I will raise another exec complaint. They even provided me with an information request under the new GDPR regs and didn't provide me with the correct information, their Rights Access team called me after scanning calls to apologies that they had sent the wrong information....

    In short, they know they are doing the wrong thing, but don't care to change it and will just leave it frustrating customers perpetually.
     
  9. robj20

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Apr 9, 2007

    Posts: 7,570

    Location: Manchester

    Octopus who im with have a variable option, I send a meter reading the direct debit takes that amount. Account stays at £0 I owe them nothing and they owe me nothing. God knows why the majority prefer fixed payments.
     
  10. chroniclard

    Capodecina

    Joined: Apr 23, 2014

    Posts: 11,865

    Location: Hertfordshire

    Not submitted a meter reading since I joined Outfox the market, they are getting whingy with emails asking for one now. :p
     
  11. BYTEr

    Hitman

    Joined: Oct 2, 2004

    Posts: 980

    That's what I was kind of expecting, otherwise, what's the point of monthly meter readings if their system doesn't perform another calculation each time. OVO increased the DD when I failed to provide a meter reading for 2 months after 13 months of monthly readings, furthermore, they increased it to double what the typical usage was. They've now lowered it to an amount that I've never used, so will be in a situation where they owe me hundreds again.

    With the water company, they had 4 meter readings which would of shown that our DD would never cover a months usage, then only decide to increase it by 5 times after 19 months and being hundreds behind.

    Surely, all this can be smart metered and the DD change each month based on actual usage?
     
  12. HungryHippos

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2004

    Posts: 7,090

    Location: Fareham

    Had my utility companies attempt to up the direct debit on me a couple of times, each time I just tell them nope and they put it back again.

    I am pretty sparse with providing meter readings though, mainly because my meters aren't next to each other and one is outside :)
     
  13. LeeUK

    Mobster

    Joined: Mar 1, 2008

    Posts: 4,529

    I submit my own readings and pay when I get the bill. As already stated they rob you with monthly direct debits always resulting in a large account credit.

    I like to take charge of my finances and pay what I owe when I owe it. I don't want all these random companies just dipping in my bank account taking what they want when they want. No wonder we are a nation of consumer debt.
     
  14. HungryHippos

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2004

    Posts: 7,090

    Location: Fareham

    I'm on direct debit, but fairly sure I owe them some money rather than the other way around :p

    I prefer DD generally but I do keep an eye on my statements just to make sure I'm not getting random stuff charged to me.
     
  15. LeeUK

    Mobster

    Joined: Mar 1, 2008

    Posts: 4,529

    That's the other thing, some folk get comfortable paying £50 a month for leccy thinking that is all they use until they get hit with a big bill because they were actually using £100 a month.

    Obviously I do have direct debits for stuff but I try to keep them to a minimum, only the necessary ones.
     
  16. HungryHippos

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2004

    Posts: 7,090

    Location: Fareham

    Sure, but if you post meter readings at least once every 3 months and your usage profile doesn't change, then it does reconcile your billing and you can see if your payments are covering usage or not.

    Not ever posting meter readings is asking for trouble.
     
  17. flea.rider

    Hitman

    Joined: Aug 7, 2017

    Posts: 651

    sorry but lol .. that's all you pay ?I pay £25 a week leccy and it works out to $20 a week for gas .. but I am on a prepay meter and wont change..
    but at least I don't have to keep an eye on it ..
    been using same amount for yrs prob cost of having 4 pc's tellys and phones running ..
     
  18. HungryHippos

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2004

    Posts: 7,090

    Location: Fareham

    I pay £60~ a month for gas and electric combined on average. Just me but it's a 3 bed house with a big tv/audio system, powerful PC, 8 drive NAS running 24/7 etc.
     
  19. Resident

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Mar 10, 2012

    Posts: 2,058

    I've had a battle with Yorkshire Water this week.

    We have a meter and before Feb averaged around 18 quid a month.
    We've increased our usage by a few quid since Feb (new child with health issues requiring constant equipment washing) so we're about a tenner in the red account wise.
    I called to up the DD. I though nudge it to £25 and that'll clear the balance and keep us on top.

    YW made their own calculation and came back with £68 a month, 3 times our usage. They were adamant that was the lowest DD they could accept.

    I requested the DD be cancelled and information on how to request a copy of the call for my OFWAT complaint.

    Funnily after a 5 min hold my DD was set at £25...