No reply from Bulb regarding sudden DD increase

On the 5/5/21, I have sent an email to Bulb regarding my DD as appearing on their app. It used to be £50 but I noticed in my app it was marked as £90.71. At no point I was ever made aware of this. However, as I’ve sent the email, I did get an automated email about this increase, which to me it looked like an effort for Bulb to cover their back (as they are required to notify the customer of any change in DD)

I do agree that in the last month I was £30 in debit, so I immediately topped up my account to cover it. The top up is still pending, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Bulb somehow estimates my annual consumption to be 927. In the previous 2 months, it was 810. Not only that, but I’ve noted each month of use for the past 3 years, so I know exactly what I’ve been using and it is around £50 per month average.

I find difficult to justify an 80% increase in my DD. Not only that, Im not allowed to set it under £81. Im always sending them my meter readings on time for the bill to come in accurate and had no problems till now.

Not only that, but I noticed that the usage graph in my account is completely off. For example, for the period of February 20 to March 20 my bill was £74.72. Looking at the chart, it reports £129 in February and 114 in March, which are way off the correct billed amount. So clearly, Bulbs calculations are off. I understand that with Covid, a tougher winter and working from home arrangements, the bills would increase, but assuming this behaviour will continue for the rest of the year and extrapolate on that is an assumption biased against me and in Bulb’s favour, namely having interest-free loans in their bank account.

As I said, I did contact them since Wednesday and haven’t heard since. I find this to be an unacceptable behaviour and I would be really interested to hear why should I stick around when I can switch to Green for a lower day/night rate, as I know how much I spend each year. Will I get some attention here Bulb or should I go ahead and switch

Just got a quote from bulb, based on the “previous tenant’s” usage, and its 792 per year, which translates to £66

66! not 90!

Hey @miltiadis.alexios.pa :wave:

So on 5 May 21 we sent you a notification of a payment review as the amount you have your direct debit currently set at is not enough to cover your energy use and debt accrues on the account incrementally. For example, you pay £50 but the cost of your energy on average is £70, then each month is slightly underpaid which leads to a build up of debit on the account.

The annual consumption email from 17 Mar 21 was to inform you that due to the tariff change your estimated annual cost is changing from £735.76 to £821.47 per year. This is estimated, we bill to meter readings so the more readings we receive the more accurate the predictions are. I can see you submit readings regularly so of course your meter readings are lower than that, your annual cost may be lower. This is estimated from the data we have on the account, industry information about use, and the tariff costs.

If we see that the meter readings you send us show lower use, and the debt is cleared (as the once off top up is now pending), of course you can lower it back down. Changes take about 5 days to take effect.

It’s also worth mentioning that the energy use charts run exactly from 1st to end of the month, whereas your bills run from 20th of the month to 19th of the following month. Therefore the use chart will be using two sets of bills for the costs which is where the £114 for March comes from.

– H :sunflower:

Thanks for clarifying about the issue with the charts, which I do find quite confusing, as I fail to see how they relate to real consumption
It is true that the billing comes in every 20th of the month. However, I wouldn’t expect the figure for that month to be much different from the billing charge, as you would use 20/30 days of one month and 10/30 from another to create that figure, but I digress.

Could you explain why the estimate in your correspondence to me as a customer is higher than the quote I get for the same property from Bulb? I would attach a screenshot but your forum doesn’t allow me to. The figures are however
Assumed annual consumption: 5135KWh
Assumed annual cost: £791.87/y
which boils down to £66/m

As the system clearly notes " Your quote is based on the previous tenants’ usage" (i.e. me) and the annual consumption is pretty much correct, I fail to see how you reached the clearly inflated annual cost of £927

By your information, I would now expect for the DD to be allowed to be lowered following the clearing of the latest topup.

@miltiadis.alexios.pa

Okay cool so the quote says £66 per month, but on your account you’ve been paying £50 for the time with us. This is £16 lower than the quote you’ve got so over time you’ve actually been- on average- underpaying the use. When this happens debt can slowly build up on the account which happened with you after each monthly bill.

As I mentioned above, you will be able to do that. If we see that the meter readings you send us show lower use, and the debt is cleared which will happen after the pending top up is cleared, you should be able to lower it. We need the top up to reflect on the account and be counted in first though :blush:

Eh, no

If I had been underpaying, then I would end up with a massive debt. £30 is hardly massive, especially given the circumstances. The £50/m has been going on for longer than this £66/m. Plus, this £66 is again an estimate.

Let’s look at the numbers
Bill 20/4/18, annual projection £635. Actual £606.01 for the year of 2018
Bill 20/4/19, annual projection £577. Actual £587.88 for the year of 2019
Bill 20/4/20 annual projection £616. Actual £607.5 for the year of 2020

As you can see during the last 3 years, Bulb has been pretty accurate with its predictions. Suddenly, while the last 3 months I get a projection of 723, 810 and 814 (assuming that’s already taking into account increased wholesale and variation in usage patterns), Bulb somehow comes up with the figure of £927 in order to justify an 80% increase in DD and when quoted, gives a projection of £792, which is still lower than the last 2 months.

This is the main issue, the mismatch of estimated annual usage and different estimates depending on where you look. However, I do take your word for it, as it is in writing, that I will be able to amend this, hopefully in time before the actual charge takes place.

Hi @miltiadis.alexios.pa :wave:

I have used your actual readings from the last year to update the estimated annual consumption, which should make the suggested payment amount and usage predictions more accurate.

As Holly mentioned, when the pending payment comes into the account and the annual consumption figures have updated, you should then be able to lower the monthly payment.

Thanks,
Cara :sun_with_face:

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So after all this trouble and me having to open a topic on the forum to get some traction on the issue, a few things happened

A complaint has been filed by Pranessa, but the information inside it is completely different from what was said above. To be more precise:

Holly said

It’s also worth mentioning that the energy use charts run exactly from 1st to end of the month, whereas your bills run from 20th of the month to 19th of the following month. Therefore the use chart will be using two sets of bills for the costs which is where the £114 for March comes from.

when Pranessa said

In terms of the energy usage graph if your predictions look off. They’re based on the usage on your meter over recent years, so it takes time to update.

These two don’t go well together and justify the situation differently. So which is it? Is it two months together or is it based on previous years? Either way, could you identify a single month were my consumption was £114? There isn’t any! The highest I’ve been was £97 last January.

Also after all this trouble, I managed to lower the DD to £73.48. Then the last topup cleared. I visited my account and this time it said I can lower it to £70.88. Great, I thought. Even though its not as low as I think it should be, its still lower than previously, so I proceeded to lower to that amount. To my surprise “my next DD will still be £73.48. I will be billed £70.88 in June”, as the system told me. What? I thought it takes “5 days for the changes to come in effect”. It is the 13th today, my billing comes in on the 20th. Is this a lie I spotted?

And not the only one. Clearly, when changing the payment, the system says " Minimum amount £X. This is to stop your account from building up a lot of debit. [Get in touch] if you think this amount is too high". I did get in touch. I do think this amount is too high. What did Bulb do? Find excuses to keep the estimation at the level they think is appropriate.

AND THE BEST THING? Tried a new quote from Bulb. It came back at £749 a year, meaning £63/m, which is lower than the previous quote of £792/y or £66/m and certainly lower than the current minimum £70.88/m or the extreme £90.71 Bulb wanted to charge initially!
What is wrong with your system? Care to explain?

Hi @miltiadis.alexios.pa

Glad to hear you lowered it once the top up cleared :relaxed: If the direct debit is changed close to the normal pay date it will take place from the following month as it is too short notice to change within that month. So if you’re payment comes on the 20th, we already start taking the payment cycle a week or so before that as we go through a third party to take these payments. The 13th is within a week of the 20th (5 working days) therefore it would have taken place from the next month to ensure it was successful.

So in regards to the explanations provided by myself and my colleague- My colleague isn’t incorrect in saying the chart is based off of your use, it is- it uses the readings to create itself.

What I had explained was how the cost adds up. Your billing date is 20th - 19th, which means for example you will be billed from Feb 20th to March 19th, then from March 20th to April 19th. This therefore straddles 2 months in the energy use chart. So for instance when you first asked-

This is the explanation. Your bill for February to March was £74.72, and from March to April was £61.91. £74.72 + £61.91 = £136.63 total for the two months (but remember two bits of that are counted in Feb and April) so the £114 does align with your use for March alone. Do you see what I mean here?

We are billing you to your actual meter readings so month to month you’re telling us how much you use so your bills will be accurate. The quote is based from historical consumption so- as we’ve mentioned before- if you continue to submit meter readings and your use continues to decrease, you can lower the direct debit. Even the new quote of £63 a month is still higher than what you started out paying us, so because you paid lower in the beginning (£42 and £56 payments) its had to be increased to balance out.

Hope that clarifies everything! :slight_smile:

I understand now how the chart is populated, yet it offers a skewed view that is not most helpful to me. In any case, that was something to report in case it was erroneous.

I agree that the DD had to be increased, as you say. Prices increased so even with the same consumption the DD had to increase too.

However, how do you explain the fact that the suggested and minimum acceptable payment are both higher than the quote I get from Bulb? Certainly both should agree since they are based on the consumption of the previous consumer, i.e. me.

@miltiadis.alexios.pa The chart is also likely more useful in determining cost over an exact year rather than overlapping into the next year. We’re happy to feedback to our developers if you’d prefer a chart that runs to your billing dates rather than 1st to 31st as this may be something people find more useful!

We never recommend trusting the signup quote as 100% gospel. The quote is actually based off multiple factors such as average usage of homes in your postcode, size and also your home’s estimated annual consumption figures. (EACS) Your home’s EACS will get more accurate over time and reflect your true usage, but this is rather hard for any supplier to give you a pinpoint accurate quote, especially for a property where there are constantly tenants moving in and out.

After taking a look into your account, your current payment suggestion is accurate though as you have been submitting meter readings each month. :relaxed:

Yes I believe the chart would be most useful to reflect the estimated and real charge between billings rather than months. However, in any way you see it, the reported values are still weird. If you wanted to show it in a better way, you should have calculated it as 20/30 * 74.72 + 10/30*61.91 = 70.45 (i.e. 20 days from one month, 10 days from another, as the billing is on the 20th of each month), which is a more accurate average of the energy consumed. Wouldn’t you agree?

On your second point, you are telling me that a few months of heavily skewed consumption due to COVID, lockdowns, work from home, cold weather etc are enough to make a prediction to the future and justify an increase of 80% on the DD? And more importantly, that this prediction is more accurate compared to years of data without COVID, restrictions, lockdowns etc. And there’s nothing wrong with that approach?
How much time is needed for the EACS to become accurate? A year? 2 years? 10? A lifetime?

What we’ve established is that the DD is generated in a completely different way and the contract allows Bulb to charge according to a rather crude prediction that the current year is going to be as bad as the previous one. Would that apply also to the benefit of the consumer? I.e. a year where the costs are predicted to fall, winters to be warmer, summers cooler, lots of air and sun etc?

And of course, lets not forget how consistently Bulb has been increasing the price of electricity.
A “green” supplier, yet follows the increase in gas prices, justifying it by much of the electricity in the UK coming from Gas generators. Yet, in 2019 Gas prices fell. Bulb didn’t reduce electricity prices. In 2020, Gas prices were reduced, yet the electricity prices were increased!!! Now, 2021, the prices for both electricity and gas increase. I fail to see how you have been “passing on price drops”. It seems to me that you have been passing on increases only and use that to justify increases in DD too, hoping to have a healthy deposit on Bulb’s account rather than our own.

Exactly the same as my experience - once they’ve got your money, they lose interest.

the higher amounts showing on previous month are what you would have been charged at the new rate. its all so they can guestimate next years usage better, wrong i know but thats why. that way they can say you need to be paying xxx a month to no go into debt later in the year. Do what i do dont have DD and get a monthly bill posted out and pay it in full when it arrives , that way youre never overcharged and have a few days wiggle room around paydays.