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.