Joiner in winter

Since I joined in February I would expect my payments to be in debit until summer when it should catch up. Bulb doesn’t seem to acknowledge this - that a winter joiner will be in debit, whereas a summer joiner will be in credit initially. So they wrote that I’m in debit and need to increase my payments. I’ve never had this with other companies who accept that having divided total use by 12 it will eventually come right.
The other strange thing is that I refused a Smart Meter a couple of weeks before the increased payment. Is this related?

Hi @Pianist52,

That’s a good question, Bulb understand that you will be using more energy in the winter months, therefore we take seasonal changes into consideration when conducting our payment review. We work out your average consumption for the year, and include an excess of one month’s credit since we take payments a month in advance.

We can see that you’ve received a lot of referral credit on your account - which is great, but this has to be considered separately to the monthly payments that are coming in. The debt on your account has been reduced by referral credit, however this isn’t a reliable income to your account. We therefore can’t predict for these payments in the future, which is why we’ve suggested an increase to your direct debit amount.

Ultimately, you’re in control of your payments and are able to adjust it yourself from your online Bulb Account.

Also refusing a smart meter is definitely unrelated - that’s absolutely fine if you don’t want one installed.

Since I joined in February I would expect my payments to be in debit until summer when it should catch up. Bulb doesn't seem to acknowledge this - that a winter joiner will be in debit, whereas a summer joiner will be in credit initially. So they wrote that I'm in debit and need to increase my payments. I've never had this with other companies who accept that having divided total use by 12 it will eventually come right.

This question has come up before. See: https://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/7903/consistency-in-policy-and-t-c

Typically a monthly direct debit plan works as you’ve described, where a new customer joining in winter would end up with an account in debit to be cleared over the summer. Since Bulb take payment in advance, it’s implicit in this statement that your account must never go overdrawn. This means that if a customer joins in winter, then their monthly payments will need to be considerably higher for the first few months in order to both pay the large winter bills and also pre-fund the account to ensure you still end up with the typical summer credit going into the following winter. However, as you’ve discovered Bulb do not communicate this correctly or sufficiently to new winter customers, who subsequently complain that their direct debits are being put up way higher than estimated.

It doesn’t help that the terms and conditions are inconsistent on this policy, You’ll see in the thread I linked above that changes were due to be made in January to help clarify exactly what is expected of customers in relation to their account status. The T&C used to have clear payment information for those joining between July and March that stated the automatic payment amount would be set at 120% of estimated annual usage for the months of October to March and then reduce this to 100% from April. That policy for winter joiners was removed circa April 2017 because people didn’t like it, but without Bulb accepting that would mean winter joiners would go into debt over their first winter, and still expecting people to ensure their account remains in credit. They can’t have it both ways.

The updated T&Cs clearly hasn’t happened since the last modified date is still 11 July 2018. Hardly surprising at Bulb’s current level of customer communication and transparency.

The terms and conditions say:
“3.16. You must keep your account in credit by paying for the supply in advance by automatic payment, or if you’re in debt with us, you agree to not be in debt by more than half of what we’ve calculated as being your expected annual bill.”
Make of that what you will.

Make of that what you will.

Yes, that’s what I pointed out in my previous thread. It’s a ridiculous word salad. You must keep your account in credit, except if it’s not. There is no requirement in the T&C for the OP to keep their account in credit, provided that are not in debt by more than half their estimated annual usage. That means the OP is free to allow their account to go into debt over the winter, just as happens with most (all?) other suppliers. What Bulb require you to do is not what you’re obligated to do by the T&C to which you agreed when becoming a customer. Bit of a mess all round, really.