Forced increased payments

Bulb plans to increase my payments by force over my average energy usage although I have never been in debt. Is this legal?
How can I prevent them from doing this?

Anyway, if they plan to do so, I swittch supplier.

Hi @bonnetm,

When you say ‘increase my payments by force’ - what exactly did the email say? I have a feeling (not having received one myself) is that it is just a recommendation as their systems predict that you will not have the one months credit in advance in your account (see https://help.bulb.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/115001227451-When-is-my-first-payment- and your welcome pack and the signup flow for details). .

Unless they’ve planning on increase it to ‘stupid amounts’ (say £500 p/m) and you are using less than £100, it’s certainly not illegal.

I did reply (as a fellow customer) to a similar post earlier today in http://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/comment/21666/#Comment_21666 and I don’t how much of the following may be relevant to your circumstances:

H Bulb might have received historical usage information from your old supplier which has caused their estimates to go up (these figures can take a few weeks to come through and might be 'adversely weighted' if you've made economy improvements in the last year or two).

You are free to ignore the recommendations if you want.

But to answer your bullet points (remember, I’m just a fellow customer):

a) they provided me with misleading information from the outset to tempt me to switch to Bulb ? <

Bulb would have provided the tariff information (price per unit/standing charges etc) to you before you signed up and in your welcome pack. The estimated usage will be any annual consumption figures they have (either supplied by your or your old supplier) multiplied by those prices - possibly taking into account predicted weather conditions etc.

It could be they’ve used your annual figures from last year, but the 2 months you’ve been with them you’ve used more energy than their system calculated (say, for example, you go on holiday between December and February - but between July and November you use a lot of power: their systems would have calculated a ‘weighted monthly average’ from your usage/annual figures which will be just incorrect for your specific use case).

b) they increased my payments incorrectly when they increased the tariff <

Since you sound like you were a customer before the price rises were official announced on the 10th of September ( https://bulb.co.uk/blog/energy-price-watch-changes-to-our-energy-prices-sept ), so around the 10th of November (60 days from the 10th of September - yeah, I might be a couple of days out on the exact date) your tariff will be going up - and the predicted price may be based on that (if you signed up after the 10th of September, you would have been put on the new higher tariff automatically).

This is a ‘disadvantage’ of variable rate tariffs (such as Bulb’s) - if the underlying energy costs increase, the bill will go up. However, Bulb do give at least 60 days ‘official’ notice of this (normally they give people a ‘heads up’ a month before that - so 90 days - that prices may go up via their blog). However, if prices go down (like they did twice last year), your bill will likewise go down (unlike ‘fixed rate’ tariffs).

c) they want me to be in credit all year so that they make interest on my money? <

Yes, Bulb do want you to be in credit all year - they ‘insist’ on one months credit (see https://help.bulb.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/115001227451-When-is-my-first-payment- and your welcome pack and the signup flow for details).

If you are unhappy with the Bulb experience, Bulb do NOT set a ‘minimum contract length’ (so you are free to leave at any time - no notice needed: just sign up with another provider ‘today’) and they also do NOT charge an ‘exit fee’.

However, I do hope you’ll stay a Bulb customer and that there’s just been a bit of confusion around the estimate Bulb has provided.

@bonnetm

My understanding is that any email which you receive from Bulb regarding a payment increase is a recommendation rather being forced to increase the payments. Does the email you received mention the words forced or any similar wording?

The litmus test to validate your concerns.

  1. Is your current balance sufficient to pay one month in advance for your energy?

If the answer is no then it seems reasonable for Bulb to request an increase to your direct debit.

Also are you submitting monthly meter readings to ensure your statements are based on actual rather than estimated readings, plus there is a price increase with effect from 11 November. Also any increase in your monthly direct debit may be to cover greater energy use during the forthcoming winter months.