Odd behaviour by Bulb

I joined Bulb last September, indicated my projected annual electricity usage, and Bulb came back with a monthly charge.
Now. Any reasonable person would recognise that when the annual usage is amortised over the 12 month, that in the winter, more power will be used than ‘forecast’, whilst in the summer less power would be used i.e. over the year I WOULD use the initial projected amount of power. Actually, my annual projected power usage has gone DOWN.
Anyway. Because my ‘credit’ has gone slightly negative (as expected over winter) Bulb has now said that I should increase my payments to remove this ‘underpayment’!!! This would mean that by September 2020 I would be well in credit and can’t be sure that Bulb would reimburse the credit should I opt to change supplier. So. I propose to maintain my current payment schedule on the assumption that someone will see sense!

And the point of this rant being?

Isn’t it obvious?

Either the request to increase payments was an auto-response, or someone hasn’t thought it through.

it’s an auto-response, that everyone gets if their account dips below one months credit for payment in advance
you are making a molehill out of a mountain

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Your first statement was helpful. Thank you.

Your second statement was not.

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win some, lose some, can’t please all the people all the time


As you’ll recall from when you originally switched to Bulb, they told you they take payment in advance and the implication of this is that you’re expected to always remain in credit by at least the value of one monthly payment. Your account is not allowed to go negative.

The bigger suppliers do allow the account to go negative. If you become a customer in winter, it’s likely your account will be predominately overdrawn and then recharge back to zero over the summer. If you become a customer in the summer, the opposite happens where it’s likely you’ll build up credit and then use it up over the winter.

Bulb, however, allow only the latter scenario. Your account must remain in credit. Since you switched close to the start of winter, your monthly payments will need to be a bit higher than usual at first to ensure you not only cover your higher winter usage but also maintain the credit of at least one monthly payment.

If you check the terms and conditions you’ll notice that what you’ve legally agreed to doesn’t actually match how Bulb insist the account must be operated. This has been pointed out to them several times on this forum. You could try again if you’re feeling up for an argument.

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Your approach is on safe grounds, this is from two of Bulb’s terms and conditions:

  • 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.
  • 3.17. Your automatic monthly payment amount will be based on the cost of the energy we think you’ll use during a year with Bulb split into 12 equal monthly payments. We will inform you of your payment amounts and payment dates when we set up your account with us.

Whatever Bulb say about increasing your DD they cannot contradict what is in their T&Cs.


Plus see: https://help.bulb.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/360018794051-Why-are-my-payments-being-increased-

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It still amuses me every time I read it:

Your account must remain in credit except if it’s not. Brilliant!

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most illogical way of expressing the logical

Interestingly, this is from the T&C’s of the supplier I recently switched to.

7.2.1 You agree to pay us by Direct Debit in an agreed fixed amount in advance each month, you should keep your account in credit and we will constantly track and carry the balance forward to the next Statement;

7.2.2 we typically set your direct debit amount based on the amount of energy we think you’ll use across a year divided by twelve;

This again seems to be contradictory perhaps not to the same extent as Bulb’s T&C.s.

I joined in the winter it is likely that my monthly DD (calculated as per 7.2.2) will put me into a debit situation until I get to the summer months.

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Thank you all.

I hadn’t read the Ts & Cs in detail I admit, but Bulb MUST know that if one joins in the (near) winter months, then the account will go negative before it pulls back up to parity through the summer. If as you say the Ts&Cs say you must always be in credit, then this is counter to the principle of amortisation of expected yearly costs per individual month that they (Bulb) advised.

Methinks someone hadn’t thought this through.

Exactly right :wink:?

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In the early days Bulb had a Winter Uplift on monthly payments for those switching close to winter, precisely to avoid the problem of going into debt until summer. That was removed as, I think they said, it caused confusion. But it’s just made it more confusing now because the terms don’t match what is expected of customers.

There’s more info on this in my original thread here. Payments were set to 120% for those switching between July and March, reducing to 100% from April.

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Thanks Hooloovoo. Just read the earlier post you referred to. I had assumed when joining Bulb that they would adopt the same principles as my other, previous suppliers, and hadn’t appreciated that many other customers have traversed this route. It does seem a rather antiquated, piecemeal method they have adopted.

as is most things bulb adopt

Just out of interest, I plotted the expected payments (based upon 2019 values) with the expected over/under payments. The balance at the end of the first year would be -£1.41 - but this could vary obviously dependent upon actual usage in 2020.

Usually one can ignore the payment amount advice from Bulb. Even to the point of manually reversing their increases to the direct debit. Leave it a few days and manually adjust. IME they don’t respond.

In my case, I started out on £85 - they increased it to £135 after 4 months - I then changed it back to a more reasonable £111 and stayed there for 16 months until I left.

The month before I left I reduced the payment to £5 (the minimum) and left owing them £5 or so, which they took as a last payment.

Amost the same as my approach. I left owing £57.75 which Bulb duly collected by DD about 3 weeks after my switch.

On top of all this, Bulb advised me this morning that electricity rates will go up on 1st April (joke?), so I’m looking for an alternative supplier.