Octopus bills saying your account is below zero when you owe them money

Bit of a rant here but also wondering if it's me and things have changed. I use Octopus for electricity only and have a smart meter. I changed to them shortly before the mass failure of energy supply companies last year. We had a couple of teething problems getting them to set up the smart meter but nothing untoward. My gripe is with their current emails and bills which on first glance look like you're in credit (yay!). So for the past two monthly email bills I've looked at the bottom line on the first page which has a minus figure and noted the comment on the front page saying "your balance is below zero". A longer look at January's bill made me think twice as it appeared I was using minus amounts of electricity, clearly not right. I've taken this up with them by email to be told "Your balance is in debt of -£251.57 this is explain as below zero meaning in a negative balance. Sorry if you feel that this is misleading information." I work in accounts and think this is a SHOCKING way to present information when you owe money. How on earth are the oldies coping with such misleading info? Are invoices/statements now presented generally in this way? I don't have any other examples in my house of product used for direct debit where the amount used doesn't reflect the amount being paid. Should I refer this to the ombudsman? It's not that I don't have intention to pay but I think Octopus is being really misleading and I can't believe it's just me who finds this shocking. Rant over. 

Comments

  • cx6
    cx6 Posts: 1,176
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    Technically speaking your account balance is -£251.57. 

    However, you are right in that is not the normal way to display things.

    Octopus are also incorrect in their reply saying "Your balance is in debt of -£251.57" as a debt of -£251.57 means your account is in credit by the same amount. They should not have included the '-' sign.

    But hey-ho, you just can't get the staff these days.
  • Le_Kirk
    Le_Kirk Posts: 21,889
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    Happens the other way round as well, I remember a year or so back my neighbour (who I look after in terms of technology etc) called me and said his Octopus account was in arrears to the tune of £400.  When I popped round to look (fortunately I am also with Octopus so knew their system) I was able to tell him that he was in credit and we immediately applied for and received a refund!  Well he did!
  • MalMonroe
    MalMonroe Posts: 5,783
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    I've been with Octopus for just over a year and found their way of transmitting information to be a bit weird. But if you check your bills as well as the balance statement each month, things do become clearer. 

    I hate that message about my balance being below zero, mainly because for me it means that I should really be thinking about increasing my monthly direct debit to them. I have today received the regular email telling me that my direct debit has been collected and my balance is below zero. So I'm going to pay that off over the weekend so I can start again with a clean slate next month. (When I expect my balance to again be below zero. Good times.) 

    Once you get used to it, it's not so bad. But I reckon we are going to be seeing a lot more zero balances before too long.  :( 

    Hopefully during the summer months things won't be too bad? We can hope, at least. Having switched energy suppliers more times than I may have had hot dinners, I think they're all much of a muchness with not much to choose between them so I'm sticking with Octopus for now. Things can only get worse (to paraphrase a pop song.)
    Please note - taken from the Forum Rules and amended for my own personal use (with thanks) : It is up to you to investigate, check, double-check and check yet again before you make any decisions or take any action based on any information you glean from any of my posts. Although I do carry out careful research before posting and never intend to mislead or supply out-of-date or incorrect information, please do not rely 100% on what you are reading. Verify everything in order to protect yourself as you are responsible for any action you consequently take.
  • Thrugelmir
    Thrugelmir Posts: 89,546
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    cx6 said:
    Technically speaking your account balance is -£251.57. 

    However, you are right in that is not the normal way to display things.

    Octopus are also incorrect in their reply saying "Your balance is in debt of -£251.57" as a debt of -£251.57 means your account is in credit by the same amount. They should not have included the '-' sign.

    But hey-ho, you just can't get the staff these days.
    Minus sign represents a negative not a positive. In accounting terms an amount owing. 
  • cx6
    cx6 Posts: 1,176
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    edited 4 February 2022 at 8:13PM
    exactly. so a 'debit' of 251.57 is a debit but a debit of -251.57 is a credit. 
  • molerat
    molerat Posts: 31,497
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    You need to look at it as 2 separate statements
    Your account balance is -£36.91
    and
    In debit
    or
    Your account balance is £36.91
    and
    In credit
  • deannagone
    deannagone Posts: 1,030
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    I am a newish customer of Octopus, having been referred to them when my supplier went bust. 

    Many moons ago I did have an enormous debt with a supplier due to them not increasing my DD and me being a bit nieve/young and not checking meter readings were being added carefully enough.  Took a long time to pay it all off when I had hardly any money. 

    So now I know exactly what my meter readings are, keep an eye on my usage, and know exactly how my DD relates to what I am billed.  I'm in credit (real credit).  So hoping I can get through the April increase with just an increase to my payments (and not a huge one).  But time will tell.  I am too aware of the consequences of getting payments wrong and how debt can build up to not keep an eye on the bills etc.
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