Confusion over monthly fee on quote

Hello, we have just switched to Bulb.

However we were a bit confused at the quoting stage because. Monthly increase in cost was £2.13, yet the monthly payment was £113ish (we currently pay £109).

We are moving to Bulb because we hope to avoid having to switch every year to get a good price and our last provider was not renewable.

Hi @sheniff

Our quote tool estimated that you’re were spending £110.70 a month (or £1329 a year) with your previous supplier. Since you estimated the energy use using the size of your house, there’s going to be a wee bit of difference between our estimate and what you’re actually paying with your current supplier. That’ll be where this difference came from.

Your monthly payment amount is actually up to you. The amount that we set it to is our recommendation for what we think you’d use, but you’re welcome to change it if you think something else would be more accurate. If you log into MyBulb, there’s an option in Change My Payment Details to tweak it. We regularly check that you’re not paying too much or too little and get in touch if we need to.

We also feel very strongly that we should keep our prices in line with wholesale energy costs. We agree with you, you shouldn’t have to keep switching suppliers to get the best prices, you should have peace of mind. In fact, we’ve dropped our prices 4 times since November to keep up with decreasing costs. Here’s a blog about our latest one if you’re interested - https://blog.bulb.co.uk/may-2016-price-drop/

Does this clear everything up? Let me know if you still have any questions.

Will

I think your Switch page is misleading as it quoted an annual cost to me of £1344 -i.e 12 X 112 but that was not correct as that was based on the summer figure that you used in the contract and the winter figure was £135 so the annual cost was £1482. It is only is you read the contract through thoroughly that you find what you intend to do and there is nothing in the contract to say these payments can be changed unilaterally. I have recommended you to a lot of people and will now have to tell them to check carefully the contract so they don’t get a shock in October and I am sure they, as I did, will find the this business practice dubious to say the least.

Also in the contract there is a 2 month deposit mentioned - why is that there if it is not relevant?

I am very seriously considering cancelling this account unless you can confirm that you will change the contract so that it shows the same figure throughout as the one shown on the Switch page or that if you are suggesting a higher figure in the winter you make this very clear in the quote stage that this increase is only advisory and provide a clear route to change the figures.

I wait to hear form you

Hi @cliffshena

I’m sorry you’ve found it misleading. We’ve had similar feedback from another member recently, so we’re currently making changes to the way our quote process is worded to make that clearer. I’ve split my answer below into a few sections because it was getting pretty long.

Energy cost (your quote) is different to your monthly payment amounts

The root of this comes down to the difference between the cost of your energy and your monthly payments. These are slightly different figures. Your quote is the cost of the energy we expect you to use over the course of the year. Your payments are the amount we move from your bank account into your Bulb account each month. To keep things simpler for the member we keep this at the same amount each month, with the exception of members' first winter. Because everyone uses more energy during winter, during their first winter we increase payments by 20% to help members avoid going into debt in their Bulb accounts. In following winters, members build up a buffer in their account during summer, so we don't have these higher payments again. So, while your payments are higher, over the course of the year, your actual energy cost will be in line with your quote.

You control your payment amounts

The amount that you pay each month is actually under your control. The payment amounts we set are just recommendations. In your MyBulb account, there is an option on the Payment Details page where you can set it to whatever you like. We keep an eye on your Bulb balance to make sure you're not in too much credit or debit, but otherwise, we're happy if you're happy. You can change it in MyBulb if your pay by debit card (i.e. you joined us through our site), otherwise if you pay by direct debit (i.e. you joined us through a comparison site) you'll have to get in touch with us to change your payment amount for you.

This is explained on quote page of join site

After getting your quote there is some more info about how we take payments that pops up before you can proceed with the switch. It sounds like this wasn't clear enough for you though. We're just updating the wording of this page to make it even clearer. Is there anything else we could do to make this clearer?

Also, between October and March, when higher winter payments are active, we include a paragraph at the top of the welcome email explaining it again. We don’t currently have this paragraph in the welcome email as we will do a dedicated email to affected members in late August so that they have plenty of time to be reminded of it. Do you think that we should include the winter payments explanation in the welcome email before October, even if the members won’t be affected for a few months?

The 2-month deposit

We have the 2-month deposit in our terms so that we have it available if we need it. In order to keep prices low for all our members, we need to make sure we can handle the very rare member who goes into significant debt. I don't believe we've ever used it, and we don't want to use it, but it's there in case.

We want to make the switch process as transparent and painless as possible, so we’ll do anything we can do to make this clearer. So any ideas you have are very welcome.

Is there anything you’d like me to clarify? Anything I’ve missed?

All the best,

Will

Thank you for that.
As I said it should be a lot clearer and more prominent and to explain that is for the first winter only and why - currently it quotes only months so looks as if it is ongoing.

As to the deposit I think that needs to be changed to say what it means - for example - In the event of a substantial debt being accrued we reserve the right to require an additional deposit of up to 2 months payments (or something like that) as again it currently looks like a requirement that applies to every contract.

@cliffshena

You’re welcome.

The text we’re changing it to is:

We all use more energy in winter From October to March during your first winter, we'll set your monthly payments 20% higher to help you keep a positive balance. We only do this during your first winter.Thank you for that. Read more

The read more link then goes into a few paragraphs explaining in more detail.

I’ll pass on your thoughts about the terms and conditions. I’m not a lawyer, so they’ll have to make sure that it is worded in appropriate legalese.

Fine . That’s good

Great, glad I could help.