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

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  • PersistentPersistent Forumite
    3 Posts
    This contribution is related to the discussions on power company procedures, and is about an experience in which I was just about to take a case to Ofgem in my dispute with Scottish Power, before SP backed down.

    I had been very unhappy with the way they had been jacking up my direct debit contributions [£64 in early 2008, £102 in September], and I decided to monitor both my usage and my charges to date and estimated for a quarter by writing myself a little spreadsheet. The aim was to avoid surprises when bills came thru, and I was taking meter readings every few days and recording cost build up.

    In December I decided to revert from d/d to quarterly bills but after finding out how much extra that would cost me, using my spreadsheet, I switched back again a week later, and a few days later they switched me to a lower priced option with no standard charges [only they didn't tell me]

    For two quarters I was almost spot on with my speadsheet estimates, but after the third one their assessment of my usage was about £50 higher than my own. I wrote to them saying I'd been overcharged, but couldnt see why. No answer for three weeks [!!!] until I sent a complaint thru their website, in which I gave meter readings at several past dates. I started working my way thru their near impenetrable bills, and found that they were full of estimates, and they had ignored some of my actual readings.

    I complained at this and gave them more retrospective actual readings I had taken, and they recalculated my bill and gave me a credit of just under £18. This was a start but it was not enough. I went to town looking at every bill over the last year in detail, and gradually understood what was had happened. Instead of just calculating quarterly bills, they seemed to be creating a year to date bill, in which they were recalculating previously agreed bills. Not only that, but the prices for kwh of both fuels in their recalculations were higher than those for earlier bills covering the same dates!! Retrospective price increases, no less!!!

    Having gathered my evidence I wrote to the Customer Services Director. I got a response from a minion saying that the Director Support unit was investigating, and then I got a nice letter from Customer Support endorsing all my readings and offering me £20 for my troubles. Only...... it still did not take into account the retrospective price increases. At last though I had a name, and phoned the guy who wrote to me, and at last got him to see why I was complaining. This led to a recalculation, and a further credit so that I received an overall credit of £45 and goodwill payments of £30.

    Why did they have these problems? My SP contact said that it was because I had so many tariff changes. However it seems more likely that what he meant was that SP's system only holds data on the current tariff and one previous one.

    So I'm personally happier now at having had credits and goodwill payments to cover my excess charges, and I don't need to take it to Ofgem. However had I not been so paranoid at regularly recording meter readings and estimating quarterly bills, I would never have spotted this.

    Well, how many other people are being overcharged and not realising it?? Is it really because of my several changes of tariff, or is it a problem common to many other people, who don't realise it because of the near-impenetrability of the bills? Have any other MoneySavingExpert contributors hit a similar problem?
  • mycar37mycar37 Forumite
    67 Posts
    Persistent wrote: »
    This contribution is related to the discussions on power company procedures, and is about an experience in which I was just about to take a case to Ofgem in my dispute with Scottish Power, before SP backed down.

    I had been very unhappy with the way they had been jacking up my direct debit contributions [£64 in early 2008, £102 in September], and I decided to monitor both my usage and my charges to date and estimated for a quarter by writing myself a little spreadsheet. The aim was to avoid surprises when bills came thru, and I was taking meter readings every few days and recording cost build up.

    In December I decided to revert from d/d to quarterly bills but after finding out how much extra that would cost me, using my spreadsheet, I switched back again a week later, and a few days later they switched me to a lower priced option with no standard charges [only they didn't tell me]

    For two quarters I was almost spot on with my speadsheet estimates, but after the third one their assessment of my usage was about £50 higher than my own. I wrote to them saying I'd been overcharged, but couldnt see why. No answer for three weeks [!!!] until I sent a complaint thru their website, in which I gave meter readings at several past dates. I started working my way thru their near impenetrable bills, and found that they were full of estimates, and they had ignored some of my actual readings.

    I complained at this and gave them more retrospective actual readings I had taken, and they recalculated my bill and gave me a credit of just under £18. This was a start but it was not enough. I went to town looking at every bill over the last year in detail, and gradually understood what was had happened. Instead of just calculating quarterly bills, they seemed to be creating a year to date bill, in which they were recalculating previously agreed bills. Not only that, but the prices for kwh of both fuels in their recalculations were higher than those for earlier bills covering the same dates!! Retrospective price increases, no less!!!

    Having gathered my evidence I wrote to the Customer Services Director. I got a response from a minion saying that the Director Support unit was investigating, and then I got a nice letter from Customer Support endorsing all my readings and offering me £20 for my troubles. Only...... it still did not take into account the retrospective price increases. At last though I had a name, and phoned the guy who wrote to me, and at last got him to see why I was complaining. This led to a recalculation, and a further credit so that I received an overall credit of £45 and goodwill payments of £30.

    Why did they have these problems? My SP contact said that it was because I had so many tariff changes. However it seems more likely that what he meant was that SP's system only holds data on the current tariff and one previous one.

    So I'm personally happier now at having had credits and goodwill payments to cover my excess charges, and I don't need to take it to Ofgem. However had I not been so paranoid at regularly recording meter readings and estimating quarterly bills, I would never have spotted this.

    Well, how many other people are being overcharged and not realising it?? Is it really because of my several changes of tariff, or is it a problem common to many other people, who don't realise it because of the near-impenetrability of the bills? Have any other MoneySavingExpert contributors hit a similar problem?
    Good work Pesistant. I recently had an email from SP demanding my meter readings even though they were no due for another 10 days. They will have to wait. As you say, their billing system is in comprehensible.
  • @mycar37

    SP can be awkward in their timing for quarterly billing.

    Typically they have billed in June, September, December and April. Leaving you with a four-month winter bill in April.

    This is at least the case for my area and at least two years on the trot.

    It would be interesting to see how many customers are bounced out of prompt payment and dual fuel discounts for this staggered billing.

    Quite why it is done four-monthly over the winter I don't know but they would be billing for less in arears over the summer period over a four month period.

    If they must put in a four month period why not summer?
  • ChrysalisChrysalis Forumite
    2.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts
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    here is what I would ofgem to enforce.

    have checks done on every property at least once every 2 years that verify the wiring and meter is working correctly in that it measures usage properly.

    sounds silly?

    I am in a property that claims I am using on average 800watts an hour when nearly everything is turned off.
  • JimmyTheWigJimmyTheWig Forumite
    12.2K Posts
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    You may want to check your figures, Chrysalis, as "watts an hour" isn't a meaningfull measurement.
  • tricia9tricia9 Forumite
    19 Posts
    Hoping this thread isn't dead, and that people are still reading it?
    I havbe now encoutnered a new problem with creative accounting at Eon.
    I instructed them to bill me quarterly after they informed me they wanted to send only twice yearly bills. I had to phone in January reminding them to bill me, which they did after my second request for quarterly billing
    I got my last bill last week for the quarter and instead of being in credit they very creatively put me in deibt like this......
    The bill tots up all estimated costs, pays them out of direct debits, [EMAIL="DIDN@T"]DIDN'T[/EMAIL] include money direct debited at 1st April, ignored it entirely in spite of the fact that the meterage is costed up till 27th April, which meant that on paper I owe them money, when in fact I do no such thing.
    Not only that they show the last bill was estimated when in fact I phoned in the reading as I always do. Guestimating in spite of me phoning in the correct meter readings gives them a higher reading than was actually the case, thus inflating the cost of course and helping them justify a statement which shows me in debit.
    Not only that, they have also once again played hide and seek with a supposed cut on electricity prices, I guess they stick a pin in the donkey's tail to say at what stage my estimated guestimated usage is before lowering the costs to the new lower price on paper......all of course devised to make them earn more money than they deserve, and me look like a default payer.
    One wonders why OFGEM et al are being payed huge sums for when quite honestly they seem to be fast asleep on the job of ensuring the customer doesn't lose out.
    I shall be phoning Eon tomorrow to complain about the creative accounting.

    I suggest everyone watches out for this new way of making us all look like we owe them.

    Small wonder these greedy corporates don't want city centre shop fronts, this is the way they getaway with unaccountability and highway robbery.


    I
  • E.ON_Company_RepresentativeE.ON_Company_Representative Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
    806 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
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    Hi tricia9,

    Sorry you’re experiencing billing issues like this; I hope I can give some useful advice.

    We have recently been making amendments to our billing frequencies and you sound as though you are one of the affected customers. We are changing all our customers who pay by Direct Debit that don’t use our online management facility to six monthly billing. This can be overridden if you request it.

    When you provide meter readings by phone these should be used to bill you. Failure to use readings provided is definitely a case of poor service.

    The estimate used on the price change date is perfectly normal, we estimate all readings for price change dates as we are unable to obtain actual readings for all our customer on the same day, however if a customer provides a reading for the date of the price change these should be used in the billing.

    Estimates can quite often be inaccurate and be both too high and too low, estimates are based on the historical meter reading data we have available. The less accurate the data the less accurate the estimates tend to be.

    We don’t set out to estimate reads inaccurately and we don’t want you to appear to be a default payer. All of the errors you have listed are amendable, amending the bill now to the readings you took is possible and we can correct the incorrect bills you have received so far.

    I understand that your readings should have been used originally and I am sorry this wasn’t the case. If you’d like my assistance with this please drop me an email to the address in my profile and I can look into this and sort the billing issues out for you.

    Brian :)
    Official Company Representative
    I am an official company representative of E.ON. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to [email protected] This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE"
  • roxydroxyd Forumite
    2 Posts
    As a rural customer I do not have the luxury of pipeline gas. My current contract 'what good is a contract - con tract is more accurate' expired and although the lpg gas supplier sent a contract to renew - two years, they would only guarantee the price until Mar 2011 - less than six months. Subsequently I did not renew as I still had an almost full tank and thought I would leave it in the hope that the prices would go down. Silly me. The gas supplier then sent a letter saying that the price had leapt another 5p per litre but they would generously hold that price until Mar 2011. I am sure it is only because I did not renew the contract quickly enough. There is no current regulator - I am hands tied, it costs almost a £1000 to change to oil but why should I. The price of oil will almost certainly rise as quickly as gas. I am scared to use my gas to heat the house. One tank, 300 litres lasts approximately 6 weeks. Our winters seem to be getting longer. I have cancelled my dd with the supplier (£130 per month currently!). Have installed storage heaters for economy 7 but even that is frightening. Where do I go, what do I do. I have an old solid wall house - retains the cold lovely! Any suggestions
  • C_MababejiveC_Mababejive Forumite
    11.5K Posts
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    Chrysalis wrote: »
    here is what I would ofgem to enforce.

    have checks done on every property at least once every 2 years that verify the wiring and meter is working correctly in that it measures usage properly.

    sounds silly?

    I am in a property that claims I am using on average 800watts an hour when nearly everything is turned off.
    Would you be willing to pay for that ?
    Feudal Britain needs land reform. 70% of the land is "owned" by 1 % of the population and at least 50% is unregistered (inherited by landed gentry). Thats why your slave box costs so much..
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