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Old 07-16-2021, 09:53 AM   #1
hazel
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Another beef about energy companies!


Earlier this year my energy supplier, GNE, went bankrupt. I suppose I should have expected it. They were one of those new companies who charge very low rates in order to secure a high position on the price comparison websites. Their customers were switched to EDF, one of the "big six".

Today I got my first EDF bill. It was for 4 months rather than the quarter (probably because it was a starter bill) and used my own meter readings. I have no quarrel with the usage figures or the calculated cost (about 124). I do have a serious quarrel with the monthly amount they propose to charge me from now on (89). The rate they originally chose after I transferred to them was 52 per month. I have never paid anything like 89 per month for energy and have no intention of doing so now.

I talked for some time to a clerk who agreed that the demand did look very strange but didn't seem to know what to do about it, other than putting me on a different tariff. I pointed out to her that the tariff was not the problem; the figure for the actual cost of the energy was quite reasonable. What is disproportionate is the suggested monthly payment to cover the amount. What they are proposing in effect is that they become my bank and hoard up for their own profit money which is actually not due to them, without paying me interest on it or providing any banking services.

It's no good losing your temper with these poor women so I told her that I would freeze the monthly payment at the current rate of 52 while her bosses sorted the matter out. But when I went round to my bank, I was told that you can't do that with a direct debit. You can cancel it but you can't freeze the amount. As long as the order is active, the bank is obliged to pay out whatever the payee asks. Isn't that ridiculous?

I don't want to cancel the order at this stage because then they can get you for non-payment. So I will give them one more month. If I hear nothing more from them and they draw 89 pounds in August, they have lost me for good. I will switch to Octopus, a company with a very good reputation for reasonable rates and good service.

Last edited by hazel; 07-16-2021 at 09:57 AM.
 
Old 07-16-2021, 10:08 AM   #2
TenTenths
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazel View Post
As long as the order is active, the bank is obliged to pay out whatever the payee asks. Isn't that ridiculous?
No, it's not ridiculous, that's how "direct debit" works, if you're looking for fixed amounts then that's a "standing order".
 
Old 07-16-2021, 10:11 AM   #3
TenTenths
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Just to say that when I switched providers and to a "level pay" style account my first couple of direct debits were larger, but I submitted meter readings wherever possible and that got the estimated use and bills a lot closer to reality.
 
Old 07-16-2021, 10:41 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by hazel View Post
So I will give them one more month. If I hear nothing more from them and they draw 89 pounds in August, they have lost me for good. I will switch to Octopus, a company with a very good reputation for reasonable rates and good service.
Why wait for them to take the money?

If Octopus is that good, just switch immediately. Or contact EDF again and make it clear you want written confirmation of the conversation and the agreed monthly price within 14 days.

 
Old 07-16-2021, 01:35 PM   #5
hazel
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After a couple of hours poring over a very confusing and badly designed bill, I have finally found where the problem lies. Too bad the woman I spoke to on the phone couldn't do so! It would have saved me a lot of aggro.

The key figure is the balance transferred from my old (bankrupt) supplier. There is nothing in the format to indicate whether this is a credit or a debit balance (that's what I mean by bad design) but if it is a debit, that would explain the figures.

I know that I was handsomely in credit when GNE crashed. I then cancelled my direct debit to them as I did not like the idea of my payments going into a black hole and eventually perhaps being used to pay other creditors. That is what usually happens when you pay good money to a bankrupt company; the money simply disappears and is never seen again. In fact I discovered later that the UK government had undertaken to guarantee all running balances in such cases, so I could have gone on paying. As I did not, it is quite possible that I went into debt during the transfer.

When I next call them, I shall know exactly which figure on their records needs to be checked, which is more than I knew today. If it does turn out that a debt rather than a credit balance was transferred, my instinct is to make a one-off payment to clear it. I loathe the idea of being in debt. Quite apart from anything else, if I do want to switch, I can't do it while owing money! Once the debt (if there is a debt) is cleared, we may be able to agree a more sensible monthly payment schedule. If not, I'm moving anyway.

Last edited by hazel; 07-16-2021 at 01:40 PM.
 
Old 07-17-2021, 09:13 PM   #6
frankbell
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Many years ago, I did my "junior year abroad" at the University of Exeter (it was a wonderful experience, by the way). So I have one question:

When did the UK turn into Texas?
 
Old 07-18-2021, 04:52 AM   #7
hazel
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I think the Texas situation is quite different. In the UK, we're not short of electric power. We have a lot of wind energy as well as domestic PV and gas. The problem is the ridiculous economic arrangements for paying for that power.

The one incontrovertible fact about gas and electricity is that what enters your house is exactly the same, regardless of what company you pay for it. A variety of companies pump gas and electric power into the network but they have no direct path of supply to their "customers". Nevertheless a legal fiction is kept up that you buy energy from a single company and pay them for it just as you would pay Tesco or Sainsbury when you walk into their shop and select goods from their shelves.

The proliferation of comparison websites has complicated the issue. To look good on these sites, companies must either provide loss-leader rates to new customers and make up those losses by gouging established customers (which leads to an endless game of annual musical chairs that profits no one) or they can try to offer genuinely low rates with the high chance that they'll go bankrupt. As GNE did. Either way the customer loses. The customer always loses.

It's insanity!
 
Old 07-18-2021, 05:38 AM   #8
cynwulf
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The problem is very simple - privatised energy companies, middle men, effectively cartels, who exist only to play the energy market and rip off the domestic consumer. Read up on how the whole mess functions - "wholesale" and "retail" gas and electricity...

You should switch provider regularly, to ensure you are paying the lowest possible per unit - that's really all you can do in this utterly broken and exploitative system.
 
Old 07-18-2021, 05:54 AM   #9
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I have "intelligent" electric power consumption measure device. It just reports power consumption all the time along network. I pay per month for what I only used. Earlier I had some insane prognosis based on my winter energy consumption. I think it is not popular solution exactly because companies cannot accumulate payments - into short living capital.
 
Old 07-18-2021, 06:09 AM   #10
hazel
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Our companies are hard-selling these "smart meters" for all they're worth. Yes, they do allow you to pay as you go and save the companies the cost of sending meter readers around. But imho they are a privacy hazard. They spy on you all the time and broadcast the results via private (non-internet) wi-fi channels that you cannot monitor but that presumably bad actors can hack behind your back. And they do not save you energy. The only thing that can save energy is switching things off when you aren't using them and you can do that without a smart meter. I will not have one unless I am forced to, and so far it's voluntary.

Here's one I made earlier https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...am-4175643267/

Last edited by hazel; 07-18-2021 at 06:14 AM.
 
Old 07-18-2021, 06:44 AM   #11
igadoter
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What do you mean by spy? This device here is in kitchen which is just separate (traditionally) room - filled with kitchen stuff. Not much there to spy. Do you use electric wires for something else? Data transmission? My imagination here is limited. I can only imagine to use these devices for terrorism.
 
Old 07-18-2021, 07:11 AM   #12
hazel
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Originally Posted by igadoter View Post
What do you mean by spy? This device here is in kitchen which is just separate (traditionally) room - filled with kitchen stuff. Not much there to spy.
I'm not talking about spy cameras. I'm talking about the company knowing instantaneously every time you switch an electrical device on or off. That has nothing to do with the location of the meter. In a short while they will know every detail of your daily routine. Do you really want that? And what about potential burglars who have got hold of the equipment needed to communicate with your smart meter? How much knowledge do you want to give them?
 
Old 07-18-2021, 07:57 AM   #13
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The one good thing about smart meters is their real time monitoring. Just last week when my father was out of town just his house lost power. The power company repaired the problem in a few hours.

It just so happens my father lives in the south USA and has an emergency generator that notified him of the problem and by time he contacted the power company they had already dispatched a repair truck. I can only attribute the fast response to a smart meter.
 
Old 07-19-2021, 08:30 AM   #14
hazel
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I finally got it sorted. It turns out that the transfer from the old bankrupt supplier was a debit, not a credit, though they hadn't marked it as such. Perhaps their keyboards lack plus and minus signs.

Anyway I just talked to a nice young lady who seemed a darned site more competent than the one I got on Friday. I told her exactly which figure to check and she confirmed that it was a debit. I paid it off over the phone. Did you know that you can key in your card number on a phone? That's new technology for me.

With the debt paid off, my monthly charge will revert to 54 as previously agreed. Incidently she told me that they have had a lot of similar queries from ex-GNE customers, which confirms my suspicions that the whole transfer has been very badly handled.
 
Old 07-21-2021, 05:10 AM   #15
hazel
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How it finally panned out: They have reduced my monthly payment, not to 54 but to 12! Now that's actually too low imho: it reflects my summer usage when I use gas only for cooking and electricity hardly at all, thanks to the solar panels on my roof. I will go into debt again when winter comes and they'll probably increase it again then. Maybe that's how they prefer to work, with a summer rate and a winter rate. We shall see.

They have also extended the introductory tariff to cover next year which is nice. Originally it was slated to end in September.

Last edited by hazel; 07-21-2021 at 05:11 AM.
 
  


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