Reasons for switching

My switch is underway, after more than 2 years as a customer. I’ve received “Sorry that you’re leaving” messages and details on how to stop it in the usual cheery form used with Bulb’s automatic emails. Which is nice.

But unlike some other companies, including several banks and building societies I’ve closed accounts with, not even tick-box feedback on my reasons has been sought (yet). Obviously, that precludes any personalised effort to retain my household or just for it to be used in aggregate as information to help guide Bulb’s management. Which seems odd for a company still offering £25/fuel switching incentives; paying to recruit replacements for lost customers.

So, in the spirit that I’d have preferred to stay, I thought I’d take the time to do that here.

With an electricity-only flat, with an Economy 7 dual-rate meter it isn’t just the price rises but the disproportionate increases in the ‘night rate’ that have made overall costs increasingly uncompetitive.

Likewise, the daily standing charge (as the cost of being able to turn on a light or boil a kettle even if you don’t) has been rising. I’ve always understood that to be to cover fixed costs such as admin and meter-reading. So I presume I’ve been paying towards ‘smart’ meters despite opting not to have one installed (which is a separate issue, about wastefully replacing a perfectly functional one without any potential for it achieving a significant cut in usage).

For a green company, that seems perverse just at the level of not directly linking every kWh used to the amount billed… the more you use, the less the proportion that the standing charge makes up becomes.

On usage, it isn’t ideal that that isn’t also graphed in kWh (to show any lifestyle/energy-saving appliance effect). The focus on £ cost seems to reflect wanting to explain the amount taken as monthly direct debit, but that is now clearly inflated.

Paying attention to the past months section shows amounts up to 40% higher than what was actually charged (and paid). Despite directly having over 2 full years of actual-usage data the projected section is similarly implausible. Which fits with every one of the ‘estimated’ bills (on the few occasions when I’ve not supplied a monthly reading) being significantly higher than actual. This very much looks like sharp-practice built into the algorithm, that serves to conceal the future effect of announced price rises if not also give room for others to be applied ahead.

The introduction of a high ‘recommended’ monthly direct debit “to avoid debt” based on those projections has been very unwelcome. Especially paired with a ‘minimum’ that presumes I’ll be irresponsible and not top-up enough to always be in credit. By all means, reach out if there is an actual sign of difficulty in paying (say bills repeatedly producing a negative balance and/or that rising even with the direct debits being paid) but applying that as a general policy customers have to complain about to be treated according to their record is not good.

To close, despite my new supplier’s tariff also being variable and with direct debits a month in advance of billing the amount/month they’ve set (based on usage) would have to rise c. 30% to match Bulb’s current ‘recommended’ level. With no exit fee, that’s a risk I’m now happy to take. Especially with their single rate plus standing charge working out significantly cheaper than Bulb’s reduced day/night differential for the pattern/proportion of usage.

I hope this is of use, even though so specific to my decision. It seems such a shame to have had a supplier successfully grow from being a ‘challenger’ business only to become ‘pretty-much typical’ in the way it operates.

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Well said GMA77 and very eloquently put. Your obviously not the demographic they want. They want to attract the easily led and dare I say those more vulnerable and ignorant to the exploitative algorithms built into their business management systems. I’ve tried to put the problems I’ve had with them behind me and I recently agreed to do a video conference that was scheduled for today. This was regarding my use of electric vehicles, looking at my experiences and charging patterns, only to receive an email apologising, less than an hour and a half before the conference was due, stating that for some reason, my response to her “didn’t get to me”. When my other outstanding issues have been resolved, I think I will need to look elsewhere and no doubt they will be thinking “good riddance”.

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Hi @GMA77 :wave:

We’re sorry to see you go, but thank you for sharing this. It’s important that we’re constantly improving, and feedback such as your own helps us to do so. I appreciate there should be other options to share your thoughts, so I’m going to raise this with the relevant team.

You’re correct. Standing-charge costs include using and maintaining the energy networks, keeping your home connected to the energy network and carrying out meter readings. With the increase, Bulb are still below the price cap and when the cost of supplying energy falls sufficiently so will our prices.

I appreciate your concerns about the installation of smart meters, and getting one installed isn’t compulsory. Graphing in kWh is a great suggestion and one I will pass on to the team.

All estimated meter readings, no matter what supplier you’re with, are based on the historical energy usage of your property. The more meter readings received from that property, the more accurate those estimated readings are likely to be. It is a third party that provides Bulb with these estimates, but we’re always happy to update the estimated annual consumption (EACs) to be more reflective of your actual usage.

The amount we suggest you pay each month is based on your estimated annual usage, together with your account balance.We aim to keep your payments the same throughout the year. That means in the summer you’ll build up credit as you’re using less energy. And in the winter you’ll use up that credit, when you use more energy. We are happy to review the suggested payment amount based on the expected usage and can also offer the option to pay on receipt of the statement if that is more suitable.

I understand there have been quite a few concerns that have led to your decision but please let us know if you have any further feedback or questions.

Thanks,
Cara :bulb:

That’s fine. Thank you.

I have already switched and have been a bit longer with bulb. Couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said.

Unfortunately, and as you have just witnessed here, the responses are scripted and none of them address the core of the issues.

You’re saying its more expensive than it should be, Bulb is replying that they are still under the cap. As for the payments, good luck with that. Last time I challenged them, I got a “looks fine to me” response. Then I left.

Currently I have an open complain with them. As soon as that’s finished, Im completely off too.

Sounds more like a justification than an explanation(we can therefore we will)

That’s exactly what it is

At least Bulb don’t insult our intelligence. These canned responses do not cut it anymore. Just call it what it is, a strategic movement to maximise company revenue. When people see this, they will naturally decide whether they want to support you or some other company.

Sure. I don’t blame the staff, and think it must be very frustrating to only be allowed to respond in ways that they can see don’t address the issue(s) being raised.

Invoking EAC as a third-party factor beyond Bulb’s control simply does not hold water.

I was being shown bars for past months well above what had been charged. That means ‘actual’ figures were being inflated, not just estimates.

I now have a new supplier setting their initial monthly DD (their ‘recommended’) significantly below what Bulb’s ‘minimum’ was. Despite it being based on the same EAC-data going into their system and there being nothing like that difference in their pricing.

It feels a bit like a ‘back-to-the-future’ situation, so here’s hoping I won’t be starting 2024 with deja vu all over again.

Best wishes to all.

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No, just mis-represented. The usage graph does not cope with Economy 7 - it simply calculates the monetary value for your overall consumption using the day rate, so shows an inflated value (if the usage chart was in kWh, there would be no problem).

Even worse, the DD calculations appear to fall into the same trap. This has been pointed out to Bulb many times, but they don’t seem able to fix it (the more cynical might see this as deliberate :wink:).

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That would actually justify one of my complains with them, i.e. why is the graph so far off compared to the bills I know I paid

By the way, Bulb’s approach on complaints is the following:
Raise complain → Respond in a scripted way → Hope customer doubts their rationale → If not, “escalate” the complain to someone who might solve it → Wait → Wait → Wait some more → Tell the customer that unless they suggest a solution, they will close the complaint → If customer not happy, keep escalating the complaint until he goes away
Great business…

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Thank you very much. That really does help explain that issue.

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Reasons for switching? How about 3 hefty price hikes in 9 months?
My bulb logo has suddenly sprouted a pair of eyes and 8 tentacles.
Is it trying to tell me something?

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All the more reason I’m leaving I agree with your post and if they don’t want to address yours or mine without reading from a script they can do one.

Hi @miltiadis.alexios.pa and @dcamp21062 :wave:

Thanks for sharing your post. I would first like to apologise for the poor service you have received here. Our complaints procedure is meant to help us log a members dissatisfaction and ensure the case is dealt with as promptly and appropriately as possible. So I am really sorry to hear that this has not been the case.

@miltiadis.alexios.pa I apologise for not getting a response back to you here. I have sent you an email to ensure that everything has been resolved and to provide an opportunity for any feedback you may wish to give.

@dcamp21062 I have also sent you an email to further investigate your complaint and to provide some extra support. I hope we can get this resolved as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please respond directly to the email I’ve sent you and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks,
Luke :bulb: