'Ofgem the regulator is listening; good stuff' blog discussion



  • This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

    Click reply to discuss below.

    Is a company allowed to just set up a direct debit payment with your bank with out your permission.
  • magyarmagyar Forumite
    18.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    panda78 wrote: »
    Is a company allowed to just set up a direct debit payment with your bank with out your permission.

    No, it isn't.
    Says James, in my opinion, there's nothing in this world
    Beats a '52 Vincent and a red headed girl
  • KTE_2KTE_2 Forumite
    2 Posts
    Thanks for this and all the site. I've just moved to a friends place in the UK whilst originally being from the US. Damn, the energy situation around her neighborhood is just a nightmare. None of them can figure much of it out so they're stuck and are behind on so many charges they don't know where to turn. The lady I'm staying with swears she paid all the bills on time and I've seen all the evidence too and isn't some illiterate who can't work things out, shes quite knowledgeable and robust in technical affairs but this has her caught for a while. Companies screw people over and rely on the vulnerability and hesitation of the customers to take it further or to court and thus keep perpetrating injustice and filling their pockets of theft until its brought out to an authority, which in most cases it is not.

    Case in point,
    a) They were overcharging her repeatedly with the BS gross overestimates through DD and leaving her accounts empty (she has separate bank accounts for household payments and knows the total gas/electricity she uses per annum and leaves just the right amount in as calculated per usage), which obviously forced her to switch it to annual quarterly billing after having enough of it with nil regulation. So she now loses 10% or so of the savings additionally
    b) 2 separate energy companies were billing her for the same periods for dual fuel throughout the last 12 months. Whats more they lied to my face on the phone for hours about charges (KWh rates) they had quoted to her and were quoting to me for the same periods. later when I phoned 3 times speaking with 3 different advisors for over 25 minutes each on detailed prices and plans, 2 of them gave different details to 1. How the heck are you meant to believe or decide anything with such crap regulation? Furthermore they deny any responsibility for the increased prices they've been charging her rather than what she had been told 12 months back, all of which she has full details of written down
    c) They signed her up to the main company tariff while she had chosen a capped better one hence for all those months they've overcharged her grossly with the price hikes. Yet where the hell is the accountability for that?!! :mad:
    d) The energy provider gave options for submitting meter readings but they were useless. Even though the meter readings were monthly submitted through her online account, they were just ignored and she was still robbed 10-75% higher through DD each time, than she had owed them.

    Its all an absolute sham here and I've spoken to her previous suppliers, British Gas, who are still charging her, just yesterday and am going to get to the bottom of this. She had a tragic divorce and lost her younger brother 16-13 months ago and she really could not face much more than the basics of a quiet uninterrupted life for a while till she gathered herself, but yet hyenas like this made her life living hell hounding any of her remaining finances just as they are doing for many many others.
  • KTE and anyone else,

    I got so hacked off with British Gas upping and downing my direct debit that I took charge and move onto standing order with my bank.

    There are pro's and cons with doing this as anyone would know, but if you can work out what you're actually spending on energy and set standing orders for gas and electricity respectively, then if you've done it right, you'll probably end up with some money at the end of the year.

    Now, before I get shot down in flames, I have had a new boiler fitted in the last 3 years, so I'm saving there as it's more efficient. Electricity is a necessary evil and that's where I usually have to make a small manual payment to cover the excess used.

    I currently spend £35 p/m electric and £53p/m gas. I am not perfect and could probably do with reducing gas and upping electric so I'm not paying the manual payments, but I'll review that in the new year.

    My main point though is one of control. If you can suss out what you're spending and set a standing order to cover it, you retain control of the payments. Where as with a direct debit a company only has to write to you and increase / decrease it that will not happen with standing order.

    You retain all control of payments made against your account.

    You must, however accept responsibility if you're not paying enough or not covering your bill as you have the control, so you've gotta be pretty sharp and keep a handle on it.

    It's worked for me and I'm hoping that I'll get about a £200 rebate on my gas at the beginning of December, but, electricity will more than likely eat up some of this as it's getting darker of an evening, but that's nothing a candle or two can't sort out !

    I hope this helps you find a way forward with regards to payments and direct debits.

  • MothballsWalletMothballsWallet Forumite
    15.7K Posts
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    And now Energywatch is no more: replaced by "Consumer Focus", who are more interested in policy than the consumer. So, who speaks for us consumers to the energy firms now?
    Always ask yourself one question: What would Gibbs do?

    I live in the UK City of Culture 2021
  • Martin's excellent blog raises many of the concerns I have about the retail energy suppliers' dodgy billing practices. However:

    My alternative to the domestic fuel price lottery is government regulation of retail energy suppliers gas and electricity prices. The Government's claim of an independently regulated, competitive energy market in the UK is a fiction. OFGEM has failed to deliver the promised benefits for all consumers of gas and electricity. I have petitioned the Prime Minister to reinstate regulation of domestic gas and electricity prices.

    The six profiteering members of the energy retailers cartel are not the consumers' friend, as Martin contends. All households in the UK require a supply of electricity and the majority require a supply of gas. We are being held to ransom by this cartel. We can but demand the protection of Parliament and the Government that we elect and pay to look after all our interests. The Parliament of the people holds the ultimate monopoly. The retail energy suppliers have nowhere else to go.

    The Government's quarterly energy price statistics since privatisation shows a gradual fall in domestic gas and electricity prices to 1999 -2000 at which time prices leveled off and from then prices began to increase at an increasing rate and have continued so to do to the present day. This reversal from falling to increasing retail energy prices was due to OFGEM in 1999 relinquishing control of retail energy suppliers domestic fuel pricing. Reference: National Energy Action (NEA) report "Fall and Rise of Energy Prices and Fuel Poverty" [July 2005], page 12, Fig. 4.1.

    Today domestic fuel prices are determined by a profiteering energy retailers cartel. OFGEM's concern for the interests of consumers is empty rhetoric, as the Government has recognised. The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act (2007) transfers OFGEM's responsibility for consumer interests to the independent Consumer Focus as of 1 October 2008.

    Please support my petition to the Prime Minister at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Energyfiction/

    It reads: " We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to
    reintroduce domestic gas and electricity price regulation that
    protected consumers from retail energy suppliers profiteering
    prior to 1999."
  • The_GovernorThe_Governor Forumite
    459 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    What also needs a serious looking at is the billing information, specifically the calculations they use to work out KWh.

    Instead of sticking it in a little box on the statement telling you what the calculation is, with a "if you're on imperial multiply by 2.83" they should explicitly declare whether they're assuming you're on an imperial meter.

    Then they should say "We calculated your bill like this - units you have used x KWh calculation = XYZ"

    For those on No Standing Charge they should state the dates between which you used your initial higher rates, and the dates between which your lower rate applies.

    I found out today that they were charging me as per Imperial - and the reason I worked it out and queried it was because I started doing comparison spreadsheets and cross-checking usage over previous years, compared to average use and so on.

    Now that's fine for me, but if I was a little old man/lady in my 80's I would have never spotted it.
  • COME ON MARTIN, YOU SHOULD BE PUSHING THIS PETITION, CREATED BY Peter Curtis, I have just signed up and found only 26 signatures, the membership of this site is immense so put it up in BIG letters and get the ball rolling, enough is enough, we need to show the energy suppliers we are fed up with being ripped off!
  • Hello

    John Lewis always pride themselves on "never being undersold". There is surely a place for an energy company which is "never" undersold, never knowingly scams the customer and listens to the customer. Such a company would attract a huge number of customers would be clean and see to be clean.
  • This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

    Click reply to discuss below.

    Good article Martin. I'm with Scottish Power and I keep a close eye on my Gas/Elect usage. On more than one occasion they have tried to increase my DD way too high. So far they have agreed with what I think is reasonable. If I get into arrears I will rectify that by injecting more cash. I will NOT be dictated to by anyone when it comes to DDs. It's my money. Why should it be the companies who dictate this. It should be a two-way street.
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