Direct debit amount increasing for no reason and without permission / informing me?!

I usually use around £40 worth of electricity only per month and my DD were £49 per month, with my account always being in credit of about £30 due to Bulb over charging me / using less than £49 per month. I’ve noticed on my account today they’ve upped my monthly payments to £94!?!? Absolute joke, I’ve had nothing but problems with this company from the start and can’t get through to their live chat / emails / phone line

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time to bin them off and go elsewhere, reading all the comments on here, it seems Bulb is taking people money not giving refunds , and upping the monthly payments just to line their bank account, and in these hard times we need the money not them. Do a comparison and get rid of them (I,m in the process of leaving them.) enough is enough

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Hi @georgiawebb3, thanks for posting on Community!

We have reviewed members payments amounts to ensure they are in a good position for winter. As we take payments one month in advance, we need one months credit in the account too. I have popped you an email now going further into detail about this. Let me know there if you have any other questions or concerns.

Without quoting the details of anyone’s account can you please give the formula which is used to calculate the DD of customers. This to take into account the existing credit (or debit) and the estimates annual usage?

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Hey @Allanr, great question!

This is what we send our members so they’re able to see exactly how we’ve calculated their new payment amounts. We factor in current credit amounts, the duration of winter and estimated usage over this period.

If you have any questions about these, please do let me know.

Community Response 1 Community Response 2

GeorgieS_at_Bulb

Perfect answer to my query.

I assume when the winter is over you provide the same sort of calculation for the six month “summer” period to cover a possible reduction in DD?

I wonder why those customers who have complained about their increase in DD payments have never mentioned the calculation factor?

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Hi @Allanr,

We tend to run payment reviews every 3-6 months, so if we predict members will be able to pay less over the summer months, we will let them know. :sun_behind_small_cloud:

Because us customers never received the apparent correspondent stating our direct debits would increase?! Nothing in my inbox from Bulb stating that this would happen and also no calculator sent out!

Hi @georgiawebb3, we sent members this information in the middle of September with the subject line ‘We’re changing our energy prices’. If you can’t find this still, let me know in our email thread and I can look into this for you.

I did receive it, I admittedly didn’t notice the calculation explaining it until a second viewing of the email.

The problem was, for most of us complaining about it, Bulb used bad/wrong data for the calculation and don’t seem to acknowledge that there was a system issue back in the summer that affected an unknown number of people.
Most people probably dismissed the email because a small change in unit price doesn’t make that much difference (that was partly my reason for not fully reading the email initially - it stated an energy increase of £13, which seemed about right to me based on what I knew of my usage).
Wasn’t actually until seeing further down the email, they were planning to increase my payment from £60 to £172.
As soon as I spotted the new payment on the email, I contacted bulb about it but had to spell it out for them, because they wouldn’t even look into it, and just stated that the calculation was right and wouldn’t accept that the calculation was wrong or that it was based on bad data. I then cancelled my direct debit because I didn’t trust the problem would be resolved in time (it hasn’t - still showing that they want to take £172).

Here’s the calculation they used for me:

My average monthly usage was never £148.51, it was around £65/month.
There was some system issue back in June that screwed up the readings/usage on my account. I had to contact to get that fixed, but it apparently wasn’t fixed properly, which meant their calculations still used the wrong data (my account is still suggesting that payment price, even though it’s been corrected and re-calculated again…).

It was clear back in June that the issue affected more than me (others posted about similar issues).
It’s become really clear now that it’s affected even more than had posted about it in June, because I keep seeing so many posts about how the calculation is way off for people.
It makes me wonder how many others it’s affected, that aren’t on top of emails and figures - my mum for example, she doesn’t do well with emails, and isn’t great with numbers, so she probably wouldn’t have realised how wrong it was if it happened to her. Thankfully, she isn’t with Bulb.

I’d stick with bulb if they ackowledge whatever the issue was back in June, if they told us what they were doing to correct it, or that they will do a re-calculation for all the people that haven’t yet noticed the error.

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Thanks for your experience.

I wonder how many others who posted on this Forum about unearthly increases in their DD also didn’t read the calculation figures suplied to them by Bulb?

Honestly, part of it was trust too.
I knew they were getting my readings, and I knew that my usage hadn’t changed much, so I would never have expected such a big increase. So part of it was a “unit rates are changing? fine by me” dismissal.
Would never have expected them to actually implement a change on bad data.

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They’ve hiked my payments to £171 from £135 so I’ve changed it to £150 but that won’t take effect until December. BUT: I use just under £100 worth of electricity a month and in the winter will use the same!!! We heat and cook using oil so our electricity usage in the winter will only rise by a tiny fraction due to putting lights on earlier. What the hell is going on??? And why can’t I find a place to send this other than here?? Unless this disgraceful hike is sorted I’m off.

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My payments have gone up from ~£50 to £99. Almost no warning, especially annoyed what with the COVID situation and being on an extreme budget.

No way of reducing this upcoming payment and allowing only a very slight adjustment for the one after is unacceptable.

All in the name of the winter credit thing (never understood this), especially in light of my estimated yearly usage, if it were divided by 12 would be far less and make way more sense.

I think I’ll be moving on, unfortunately.

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Hi @ryan4257,

From your screenshot, it does show that your account is in a bit of debit, which is why a higher payment amount is suggested (in combination with your property’s annual energy cost).

The payment amount suggestion is designed to put your account back into credit despite currently less energy than that.

I will be popping you an email shortly once I investigate your account.

We do offer paper communications for members in standard, large print or normal since we want to cater to everyone. If your mum ever did decide to be with Bulb that is :grinning:

Just wanted to post to say Trevor has been in touch via email, and can see the issue in June that led to my payment suggestion being wrong.
The calculation in the email was based on bad data, due to an estimation issue and “negative consumption” - screenshot of that part of the email below.

I’ve replied asking what is being done to investigate how many others were affected by this estimation error and what’s being done to identify others like me that may have had negative consumption show on their account, so Bulb can proactively correct it rather than just wait for customers to spot it and try and convince bulb that it was wrong.

*Edited to add:
for context, the calculation suggested £172.88 for my payment, based on the bad data.
Using that calculation based on their updated estimated usage (which still looks slightly wrong), it would be around £89/month over winter.
I have been using more, so expected some increase - £89 seems a bit much but not bad, £172 was way off.

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I have same problem - from £70 went up to £112 without my consent. This is a joke company!

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Hi @ryan4257,

The error was to do with your property’s estimated annual consumption figures being estimated too highly, this we can manually correct.

To answer your question on what we’re doing to investigate similar billing issues right now there are only a few outlier cases right now, so we do investigate / fix these manually.

For larger cases where issues are likely to occur, our Operations team run reports to identify and fix these particularly when it comes to Smart meter exchanges. Many of the reports can fix tens of thousands of billing errors.

Some billing issues do fall through the cracks obviously, that is when people like your good self get into contact with us and so we fix these manually!

That incorrect estimation came from whatever happened on your system back in June though?
It wasn’t spotted for me, as I had to contact you about it. It wasn’t spotted for others, because they’ve posted on the forums about it.
So the reports didn’t pick us up, and you only correct them manually once we’ve gotten in touch.
So how do you know there’s not many many more that your reports aren’t picking up (like they didn’t pick us up), and simply haven’t been in touch with you yet?

Also if you do know there’s only a few outlier cases (like me), why is it taking us contacting you to get it fixed?
It should never have gotten to the point where my new payment was the ridiculous amount it is, and as of now your system still wants to take that amount if I had a direct debit set up.

It really isn’t reassuring.

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Hi @punkerisimo,

Firstly, I just wanted to give you a warm welcome to Bulb community! :partying_face:

You did give consent when you switched to us as that was agreeing to our T&Cs, this was also included in your welcome pack.

We do give at least 10 days notice before a payment amount change takes place and usually a payment review email is sent to you a month prior to any payment changes do occur if there any issues surrounding the newly suggested payment amount.

Happy to take a look into your account and see if the payment amount suggestion is correct though!