UK energy customers receiving bills of up to £49,000 following SSE’s Ovo acquisition

Customers of energy supplier Ovo were shocked and dismayed to receive bills of up to £49,000 due to data errors that have caused energy estimates for some homes to be vastly overstated.

Julie Lines [not her real name] was told she owed £44,800 for two months’ supply of her one bedroom flat. “I was asked to send pictures of my meter in August because Ovo believed there was a problem,” she said. “I did just that and my account went from £600 in credit to £19,000 in debt. Despite Ovo assuring me it was a mistake, the debt grew to over £44,000 in September.”

After the Guardian contacted Ovo, his account was found to have been credited to £239.

The company acknowledged that meter reading errors had affected some customers, blaming the problems on some accounts that had been transferred. After Ovo bought the retail division of SSE in 2020,

The company has alleged a mismatch between the meter readings at the opening and closing of the line. sse The account was taken over to Ovo and his compensation was paid.

Other customers told the Guardian that Ovo continued to send unreliable bills despite receiving updated meter readings and acknowledging the errors.

gas bill screen grab for money
Jane Barclay’s gas bill for the three months to October is £34,015. Photograph: Provided

Jane Barclay bumped up the estimated quarterly energy consumption for her two-person household by £49,000 when she submitted meter readings. “I was assured my account would be placed on hold but am now being chased for a bill of £34,015 for three months from October,” she said. “What started out as one of the annoyances of modern life is now taking up hours of my week and I have hit a brick wall trying to solve it. I have canceled my Direct Debit , otherwise they would have taken the money, but I know that soon they will hand it over to the borrower.

Ovo increased Alistair Strain’s monthly direct debit from £418 to £1,989 after he calculated he used £23,330 worth of energy during July and August. His estimated bill for 2023 was £29,000. “At least 12 different customer service advisors have asked me for details, assured that our account would be put on hold and the matter would be resolved, but despite this, my bank account was debited £1,989 last month. “

Ovo acknowledged that meter reading errors affected some customers who were transferred from SSE earlier this year. A spokesperson said: “We have processed millions of successful migrations to date, but we are aware of a small handful of customers receiving large estimates. We have put in place an additional control to scrutinize large bills so that we can identify and correct them.

The company canceled the bills for Barclays and Strain and offered compensation after being contacted by the Guardian. It has since refunded Strain’s direct debit payment, but he says his balance still shows a £21,000 debt and Barclay has yet to receive a correct bill.

In 2020, Ovo was ordered to pay £8.9m for redress after the energy regulator, offgemfound that it had wrongfully charged customers over five years.

Ofgem would not confirm whether it was aware of the latest charging issues when The Guardian alerted it to the shock bill. “Suppliers also have a duty to ensure that customers receive the accurate final amount on their bill,” a spokeswoman said. “We will assess this intelligence shared with us, and where action is required, ensure suppliers are doing what is necessary to protect consumers during this challenging time.”

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