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    • VoucherMan
    • By VoucherMan 23rd Sep 18, 9:45 PM
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    VoucherMan
    Inaccurate information from MSE about Outfox the Market
    • #1
    • 23rd Sep 18, 9:45 PM
    Inaccurate information from MSE about Outfox the Market 23rd Sep 18 at 9:45 PM
    On re-reading some MSE news articles, forum pages and even the Cheap Energy Club, there is a crucial error in the information.
    (I'll also mention now that I am affected by this but hopefully it doesn't change the accuracy of my comments)


    All mention of Outfox that I have seen mentions the monthly fee (under whatever guise you want to name it) in relation to usage.

    This is incorrect. The fee is based on Estimated Usage
    https://outfoxthemarket.co.uk/Terms-and-conditions.aspx

    3.2
    The monthly membership fee is based on your estimated annual consumption. (EAC).
    This is an industry provided figure based on a rolling two-year consumption history and this can result in your membership band being amended at any point.
    This is especially significant for those with usage close to one of the price band changes.



    Two news articles (there may be more) stating 'usage'
    https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2018/05/cheap-energy-firm-outfox-the-market-ups-its-membership-fees-for-heavy-users/
    https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2018/01/is-it-worth-paying-a-monthly-membership-to-get-cheap-energy-/

    The Energy Club also states
    membership fee depending on your level of usage
    I think it would be impossible for the Energy Club calculator to give an accurate price as it would be difficult to guess which price band they fall in to.



    I would love to know more about the estimated annual consumption. (EAC), and how the figure is reached, but it most certainly has no apparent direct link to actual usage.


    As evidence, when I joined OFTM I gave an estimate of slightly under 2400kWh (despite my previous year's usage being under 2300kWh), which was used on my first bill.

    When I received my second bill the EAC had increased to almost 2450kWh, despite my usage for the month being over 16% below their estimate.
    The cynic in me did suspect OFTM of doing this themselves just to increase the fee, but they assured me it was an 'industry provided figure'.



    The last 2 months have seen an even bigger drop in my monthly usage, and yet this mysterious EAC has continued to rise. My actual usage (multiplied by 12 to give an annual equivalent) this month was 500kWh lower than the EAC. They are charging me using an estimate 20% above my actual usage.
    Logic would suggest (at least to me) that if your usage drops, so would en estimate that is based on said usage.



    As one of very few suppliers that use the 'membership fee', OFTM already have an extremely unusual pricing structure where they can increase both the tariff and the membership fee. Add to this their ability to seemingly* change your membership band at will, it makes them an increasingly risky supplier to choose. When you sign up to a variable rate tariff it is generally accepted that the unit rate may change. That OFTM has 3 different mechanisms for increasing the price will not be known without reading all their T&C (which we all should, but how many do?)
    (* as above, it is based on the mysterious EAC)


    I am in the fortunate position that (thanks to many years of MSE) saving money is now more of a pastime than a necessity, so the extra cost is no more than an annoyance. Fuel bills for many though are a major issue, so I think accurate information, especially when relating to prices, is of great importance.
    Feedback on the forum is of limited use as I doubt people read an entire thread, but just a few posts.

    For a final (for now) contradiction, that to me sums up this company,
    A quick reminder of their T&C

    The monthly membership fee is based on your estimated annual consumption.
    and one of the first messages I received after signing up










    I wonder how much they'll charge me next month
    Last edited by VoucherMan; 18-12-2018 at 8:44 AM. Reason: including the referenced company in the title
Page 1
    • VoucherMan
    • By VoucherMan 3rd Nov 18, 1:33 PM
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    VoucherMan
    • #2
    • 3rd Nov 18, 1:33 PM
    • #2
    • 3rd Nov 18, 1:33 PM
    Another couple of victims of MSE's inaccurate information. Still, I guess with there being so few of us affected by it, continuing to push a deal based on a lie is okay.


    Annoyed my membership fee is going up when they refuse to use my actual annual usage (1,500 units) and use their estimated 3100.

    New build, so no two year history.
    Originally posted by ogwellian



    do not believe the cheap energy club site either when they quote them as the cheapest. They are not and we found this out once we switched.

    What they actually do is play with the membership fee each month, (daily charge) depending on the last 2 years estimates of usage for that property, not the user, they get this from a 3rd party source then estimate your usage and charge the membership fee as they like.

    Our initial quote, why we switched, was a fee of 7.99 a month, we are low users. What they actually charged was at first 11.99 then after that 14.01 a month when questioned they gave the reason outlined above. The charge is equivalent to a daily cost and meant we would pay around 90 a year which makes them more expensive than other quotes, so beware and do your own figures.
    Originally posted by spikeyman

    A little word that can make so much difference, yet apparently too much effort to correct.




    Don't worry though, there is light at the end of the tunnel, at least for me.
    After 6 months with them, I now have bills showing a usage for that period of 1039Kwh, which suggests I'm likely to have an annual usage of about 2100Kwh.


    Outfox have at last lowered their estimate of my usage from 2492Kwh to 2475Khw.

    Still nothing like my ACTUAL usage (you know, the one that MSE says the fee is based on), but it's a step in the right direction. I can't see it being dropped much more as that would mean charging me a lower monthly fee, but let's not let this small fact get in the way.


    I'm sure time is valuable in MSE Towers, but so is the money of the members you're allegedly trying to help. I can understand the original text being wrong. It is hidden very well in their terms and conditions, and being such a new method it's probably not that well understood, but the fact that MSE continues to mis-sell it makes me think they really don't care any more.
    • wavelets
    • By wavelets 3rd Nov 18, 3:50 PM
    • 1,162 Posts
    • 488 Thanks
    wavelets
    • #3
    • 3rd Nov 18, 3:50 PM
    • #3
    • 3rd Nov 18, 3:50 PM
    All quotes from all energy comparison sites, and indeed suppliers themselves, is based on EAC (Estimated Annual Consumption)

    This is often based on last years usage, but not necessarily so (e.g. on change of resident, on notification by customer of a significant change, etc)
    But it reflects the Estimated Annual Consumption for the next 12 months - it has to be estimated as no one knows for sure what the future holds.

    Here is an explanation given by First Utility ... other energy suppliers do likewise
    https://www.first-utility.com/help/bills-and-payments/how-do-you-estimate-my-usage

    Enrgy comparuison services, such as the MSE CEC, use the EAC data you supply (or estimates it based on other data you may submit in the absence of EAC values) - none attempt to verify such data with the centralised industry database, but suppliers will if you submit an application to them.

    In the vast majority of cases, there is no dispute over the EAC the customer declares when verified using the centralised industry database.

    Edit: As for the two users you have come back to quote, we can all see their posting history
    (although one user appears to accept there is no usage history to go upon, but takes issue that the supplier in the circumstances haas therefore used the Ofgem agreed medium level usage for such)

    Perhaps a re-iteration of what the forum rules caution us about regarding posts that may be completely wrong
    To reiterate what we say at the top of every forum page, this is an open forum. You should not rely on any information given here without checking it yourself first. This is especially true with investments, where for any one product, there can be 100 different opinions.


    We believe this is an amazing forum with a huge wealth of information of benefit to many people, and most of its users are keen to help others. But sometimes messages are posted that are poorly researched, ill-conceived, or downright wrong. Sadly, they can even be misleading and deceptive....


    Edit2:

    You say "For a final (for now) contradiction, that to me sums up this company,"

    Is this the energy supplier you are speaking of, or MSE???

    The feedback thread for this supplier can be found here (on the Energy board)
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5756250

    Feel free to add your comments on the supplier in question there

    - Oh, I see you already have done, in bucketloads ...

    Perhaps the powers that be would consider locking this thread, as there already exists a feedback thread on this supplier?
    Or perhaps merge it with the existing thread for feedback on this supplier?
    Last edited by wavelets; 03-11-2018 at 4:13 PM.
    • VoucherMan
    • By VoucherMan 3rd Nov 18, 5:01 PM
    • 2,562 Posts
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    VoucherMan
    • #4
    • 3rd Nov 18, 5:01 PM
    • #4
    • 3rd Nov 18, 5:01 PM
    All quotes from all energy comparison sites, and indeed suppliers themselves, is based on EAC (Estimated Annual Consumption)
    Originally posted by wavelets

    This is not about the quotes, it's about the actual price you pay. It may not affect a large amount of people but there is a difference between being charged based on the amount you use (in my case 1039kWh in the last 6 months), and the amount the energy company estimates you are going to use.

    The estimate used by Outfox to determine my monthly fee is almost 20% higher than my actual usage averaged over that period.


    My issue is that this highly unusual (last time I looked I only found 2 small suppliers using the method), and little understood stood system is being ignored by those whose claim to be helping us.


    (although one user appears to accept there is no usage history to go upon, but takes issue that the supplier in the circumstances haas therefore used the Ofgem agreed medium level usage for such)
    Originally posted by wavelets
    Maybe if they'd understood this when they signed up it wouldn't be an issue. I expect that like me, and many others who trusted MSE's information, and wouldn't have understood the technicality of the pricing even if they had seen the term EAR, they signed up based on

    Outfox the Market charges a monthly membership fee depending on your level of usage
    Outfox were very quick to correct me on this though. When I suggested that after my first full year's membership, having used substantially less that their base usage figure of 2399Kwh, I should be charged for the lower amount they assured me this would not happen. I will continue to be charged based on the EAR, however ludicrous that figure may be in relation to my current and recent usage.



    Edit2:

    Is this the energy supplier you are speaking of, or MSE???
    Originally posted by wavelets
    The 2 subsequent items, a quote and a screenshot were both from Outfox. I guess the irony was lost on you.
    In one sentence they say your bill will be based on an estimate, but on one of their flyers they suggest they're 'putting an end to estimated bills'


    Edit2:

    Feel free to add your comments on the supplier in question there

    - Oh, I see you already have done, in bucketloads ...
    Originally posted by wavelets
    Yep, as more and more misled users show up...



    Perhaps the powers that be would consider locking this thread, as there already exists a feedback thread on this supplier?
    Or perhaps merge it with the existing thread for feedback on this supplier?
    Originally posted by wavelets
    Why? This is not intended as feedback about them. It was an attempt to inform MSE about an issue with information published on the site (hence posting in the Site Feedback forum)
    • VoucherMan
    • By VoucherMan 11th Nov 18, 7:14 PM
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    VoucherMan
    • #5
    • 11th Nov 18, 7:14 PM
    • #5
    • 11th Nov 18, 7:14 PM
    If this information is misleading, there should be some sort of warning (like the bad customer service warning I saw on another supplier).
    Originally posted by Sunny Intervals
    I am now thinking/hoping that the lack of any action or acknowledgement by MSE is because any changes need to be fed down from the parent site MoneySuperMarket. There certainly doesn't seem to be any interest in getting it corrected.


    I believe my initial direct debit for my current supplier was based on the industry average figure. It was about 5x higher than my actual usage


    Are these membership fees repayable if they overcharge you? If not, this needs to be made very clear on the Cheap Energy Club page. Likewise, if you're made to wait over a year before you're able to get this refund instead of being able to get a refund very quickly like when you're in credit with a normal energy provider.


    I find this really worrying. If I'd gone ahead with the switch, I'd be getting massively ripped off right now instead of saving a few quid a months as the Cheap Energy Club advised.
    Originally posted by Sunny Intervals
    I can't comment on those in new builds who are charged based on the industry average, but OTM have made it quite clear that I will continue to be charged this industry approved 'estimate' regardless of my actual usage. Even if my usage is well below the estimate (currently about 20%) I will not be refunded.
    • VoucherMan
    • By VoucherMan 18th Dec 18, 8:43 AM
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    VoucherMan
    • #6
    • 18th Dec 18, 8:43 AM
    • #6
    • 18th Dec 18, 8:43 AM
    Just for my own entertainment as it becomes more apparent that MSE don't care about details being correct, added to he fact there's probably a lot of 'ego massaging' going on for being the first rag to comment on the Facebook group challenging Outfox. (Hopefully one of the other, more reputable news sources will pick up the story and actually investigate it rather than just printing some 'headline grabbing highlights')


    Remember three months ago when I mentioned you were giving out misleading information? Well guess what, it's even 'more wrong' now.

    Yeah, crap English, but who cares.




    from the energy club
    Outfox the Market charges a monthly membership fee depending on your level of usage instead of a standing charge
    from Outfox
    The tariff is made up of your unit rate for each fuel and a daily standing charge for each fuel
    The high rollers at MSE may consider the smalls sums involved here so insignificant that it's not worth getting off their arris to fix, but comments on the forum, and wider web, suggest that many of the people who sign up to companies like Outfox are the ones who can least afford their devious charges.
    Anyone who actually follows through to the Outfox site should find out for themselves that it's wrong, but amazingly some people still believe MSE to be a reputable site like it was before Martin handed over the reins, and they assume the information published is correct and sign up based on those details.
    As we know people should take responsibility for their actions and check out the small print for themselves, especially since MSE clearly don't, but we're living in an 'age of blame', or so it seems. To continually publish 'lies' once you're aware of them is crass reporting at best, but sadly it's the level the site seems to be aiming for.
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