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Thread: Energy increases - complain, complain, complain. It can work

  1. #1
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    Energy increases - complain, complain, complain. It can work

    Like everyone else I'm just about to experience a rise in energy costs as my current tariff runs out today. Everyone's circumstances are different but I thought my experience might be of use to anyone trying to find the best deal.

    I submitted my latest meter readings to my supplier (Scottish Power) last Friday, reasoning that phone lines & websites would be overloaded this week with people doing the same as they try to ensure they're not charged at a higher rate for energy used on their current agreement. They shouldn't be anyway. There should be x days at y tariff and x days at z tariff on bills but nevertheless people are rightly worried and sure enough the past couple of days has seen a lot of people struggle to get through. I reckoned that the possibility of one week being charged at a higher rate was worth the peace of mind of knowing twelve of the past thirteen weeks would be charged at the 'old' rate.

    I thought it was probably for the best to move to the standard variable rate but explored the new fixed tariff options available anyway. These were all horrendous, the cheapest being a 250% increase. Yes, that's not a typo. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY PERCENT was the cheapest. So I decided to put in an official complaint about their offer based on the following criteria.

    My direct debit had been paid in full each and every month. During the past twelve months they had increased the debit by almost 20% but despite that my account was in credit after my last payment last week. I said if they hadn't increased the debit I would only have been £20 in arrears over the year and that it should never have been increased. They were at fault and I deserved an apology. It's a point worth making if you come out ahead over the year.

    I said that being in credit at the end of the year showed I was a good customer and asked how they could justify any increase being based on my current debit when that debit should have been around £11 pcm less if my account had broken even over the year and asked them to review their offer taking that £11 pcm into account prior to calculation.

    I referred to the average increase being 54% and asked for an explanation and justification as to why they were offering me 250%.

    I pointed out that I was (now) a pensioner and would be in receipt of £200 Winter Fuel Payment later this year and asked for this to be taken into account prior to calculation of a new offer. I also asked them to include the £140 Warm Homes Discount which I have been in receipt of for several years, the forthcoming £150 Council Tax rebate and the £200 energy 'loan' to be applied in the autumn. I said that was a total of £690 or £57.50 pcm I would be receiving that they do NOT take into account when calculating new tariffs and that it should be considered before calculation. I asked them to deduct that sum from their new fixed price offers and said I couldn't possibly afford to pay what they were asking.

    This is, I think, an important point. Most people will be receiving at least the rebate and the 'loan,' - £350 or £29 pcm and that is NOT factored in to price increase calculations.

    I informed them I was clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid and that as a consequence had spent much of the past two years at home, therefore consuming more energy than would otherwise be the case. I said this meant my actual consumption was at its peak and if anything would reduce as the health outlook, both general and personal, improved (fat chance now it seems) and that they should factor in at least a 10% reduction in consumption prior to calculating a new fixed rate.

    In short I was asking them to make an offer based on PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES rather than an automated one calculated automatically on consumption and percentage price increases.

    Now not all of the above mitigations will apply to everyone on here but they will for some and some will apply to all, at the very least the £200 'loan' will.

    I ended by asking again for a justification of their offer based on the personal circumstances I had outlined, asked them to provide me with a new offer now they were aware of my personal circumstances and reminded them that if not satisfied I retained the option to pursue the matter further with the Energy Ombudsman. An important point. Having to justify such huge increases on individuals without taking all their circumstances into account risks not only risks the dispute being resolved in favour of the consumer but in unwelcome publicity for the supplier and that's the last thing they need right now.

    I sat back and awaited their response, hoping to receive an offer in the region of the average 54% - say between 50%-60%.

    I received the response overnight. They have offered me a fixed rate tariff based on the last twelve months consumption that comes out at an increase of 16.3% on what I paid over the past year. Again, not a typo. SIXTEEN POINT THREE PERCENT. Which is far lower than I expected and when compared to the original 250% looks an absolute bargain. I never thought I'd see the say when I was delighted to see my bills increase by 16% but this is where we are. My direct debit will increase by 4p pcm. Yet again, no typo. An increase of FOUR PENCE PER MONTH. And the deal is for sixteen months, to the end of July 2023, not just a year. Given the way things are going I have decided to take up this offer rather than move to the standard variable rate. When taking into account the Winter Fuel Payment, Warm Homes Discount and Council Tax Rebate (but NOT the £200 'loan) I expect to actually be around £200 BETTER OFF as a result. Comparing like for like - what I paid last year plus the Warm Homes Discount I expect my increase to be around £135 or 13% over the next sixteen months.

    It costs nothing to complain but your time. The worst that can happen is for offers to remain the same. Everyone will have at least one of the factors outlined above that can be taken into account. The key thing is to get your supplier to make an offer based on YOUR circumstances, not their algorithm. So if you're facing a horrendous price rise I'd urge you to complain about it. I'd compare it to TV or broadband offers which many here will be used to dealing with. If you tell them you can't afford the new rate then they'll make you a better offer - six months reduced rate, keep your current rate for another year etc, etc, etc. They rely on people not complaining about increases and meekly accepting rises as 'inevitable.' They're not.

    I hope my experience can be of some use to those facing these truly shocking increases.

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Well done.

    You may have seen my comment on another thread about Scottish Powers' accounts department and their ability to conjour up wildly differing figures like magic when challenged.

    I was very glad to leave them.
    (Even though it now seems I've had free electricity from SP for 8 years I'd still rather be paying a company who seem to know what they are doing).
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  3. #3
    Senior Member beau's Avatar
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    I complained to EDF too. They wanted to increase our DD by 100% based on the last 6 months usage which is the winter months. By my reckoning over 12 months on our original DD we should about break even. Fortunately for us I signed up for a 3 year fixed rate just before prices shot up. I was dubious about 3 years as it cost slightly more than the 1 or 2 year fixed rate. It appears that it was a good move.
    The outcome was we remained on our original DD.
    I will keep an eye on our consumption and if it appears we will be massively in debit after the 1st year I will increase the DD myself. At the end of the 1st year if we do end up with a small deficit I will pay it up in a lump sum to start the 2nd year with a clean slate.

    These energy providers must think we are all stupid and will pay whatever they say just to line their own coffers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nukecad View Post
    Well done.

    You may have seen my comment on another thread about Scottish Powers' accounts department and their ability to conjour up wildly differing figures like magic when challenged.
    Oh yes. To give one example, my old unit rate for gas was 3.274p per kWh. My new one is 3.718p, a 13.5% increase and in normal times a scandal but this year a bargain. The rate they originally offered was 19.043p - an increase of in excess of 580% - more than ten times the average 54% rise. There is no way on this Earth that any increase like that can come anything remotely near justification.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beau View Post
    These energy providers must think we are all stupid and will pay whatever they say just to line their own coffers.
    Precisely. See my reply to Nukecad. They expect people just to suck it up. To go back to my TV analogy it's like when my late Uncle told me the price of his TV sports package and was shocked to find it was over three times as much as I was paying for the same. The difference being that he never bothered to contact them at the end of his initial contract and his debit kept rising and rising while I got on to them and asked what was on offer. Worse, when I told him this, he still didn't do anything about it, saying it was easier to carry on as he was. And he was someone heavily involved in local politics, community groups and charities, a man well used to organising and making himself heard when need be. If he wasn't prepared to argue then how many others, less well-versed in speaking and writing, would do likewise?

    In my experience it really does pay to complain. All you've got to lose is your time.

  6. #6
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    Ofgem will probe if UK energy firms are raising customer direct debits 'by more than is necessary'

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...its-large.html

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    Energy chiefs call for cheaper 'social tariff' to help poorest customers cope with cost of living crisis

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...st-living.html

  8. #8
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    My current dual fuel + broadband fixed rate tariff with SSE ends 19th of next month, and looking at the numbers it's best to just let it go to Standard rate.

    As scotleag said in the first post, the new fixed rates they are offering look ridiculous, even if it does go up again as much as expected in August.

    For the dual fuel at the new standard rates I calculate I'll go from my curent £61 a month to about £104, a 70% rise, they haven't said what they will actually want for the new DDs yet though.

    The lowest fixed rate they are offering me is £145.25 a month fixed for a year, the next is £152.83 fixed for 2 years and including boiler cover which I dont need.

    Oh well, one more month at current fixed rate and then I'll take the end-of-year meter reading and calculate what next years DDs should be with the WHD an £200 loan-not-loan taken off.
    (I dont get the WFD yet, and I'm not including the £150 through the CT scheme because that will come to me not them).

    PS. Doesn't seem like a whole year that I've been in this flat, I'll have to stop calling it my 'new' flat.
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    Yes the advice I've seen & heard says stick with the standard rates at the moment.

    I hope the BB cost does not go up, I guess you can still go with someone cheaper if the deals not so good this time around.

    I can't believe it's been a year either Nuke.

    I pay quarterly for my Gas & Electric. I've got solar panels on the roof, I didn't pay for them the housing association did. There were a lot of schemes a few years back. They were fitted then had to hold off signing off on them because mine were fitted so badly on the roof that they were all different heights & angles. Anyway they did give in & come back & put them on the roof properly. Then a year after they were fitted (by cowboys hired to put up quick & cheap) the proper fitters came round & told me there was a fire hazard because the wiring was not cased in (trunking?) correctly & the man stayed & put it right then and there because I was worried I'd go up in smoke & I complained I'd have to be messed about another day again. But they have not been cleaned in many years, they did at the start come & clean them every few years but there is so much muck about three desert red sand storms up there, I doubt they make much electric at the mo. I'm hoping they clean them again soon.

  10. #10
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StarBright View Post
    I hope the BB cost does not go up, I guess you can still go with someone cheaper if the deals not so good this time around.
    I'm looking at that, as it is it's still pretty cheap but I'll see what they will want after the 12 months contract is up.

    I can probably switch to the cheap BT thing, but I'm looking at using my mobile phone to tether again like I did during lockdown.

    At the moment I'm back paying £1 a week PAYG on my mobile, currently that gives me 130 mins, 200 texts, and 10MB a week, but:
    I have some 'add-ons' on the data, not sure where they came from I think it was some promotion, and it looks like they give 5GB a day renewing each day. That's 35GB a week for free - which is more than I was using when I was last tethering during lockdown.
    I think I'll turn off the broadband for a few days and see how just tethering goes.

    My HA doesn't seem bad with repairs, I had a boiler fault a few weeks ago it was still working but shutting off intermittently, they were out with 3 days to replace the sticking pressure sensor.
    Last Sunday I noticed dry rot in one of the external window cills, they are coming next Friday to replace it.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

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