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Our New Year's resolutions to you

By OVO Energy Friday 02 January 2015

As we enter the New Year, we’ve been reflecting on our journey so far. And it’s been quite the ride! We’ve grown incredibly fast – almost trebling in the last 12 months, and doubling our workforce, with a 150% growth in our call centre alone. We’ve also launched some ground-breaking new products and services, including OVO Communities, Mylo and My OVO.

This year, we want to ensure we stay true to our values and keep the focus on you, our customers, in everything we do. So we thought what better way to start 2015 than to commit to a series of New Year’s resolutions? Here they are, let us know what you think and what your New Year’s resolutions are on Twitter @OVOEnergy, #newyearsresolutions.

We promise not to rip off our loyal customers by keeping them on unnecessarily high tariffs.

We think around 70% of the Big Six’s customers are languishing on higher rate tariffs which they have rolled on to. Many of these customers have perhaps never switched, or switch rarely. A high proportion are vulnerable. Little or no effort is made to get them off these tariffs and on to the more price competitive ones offered to new customers. 

Only 12% of OVO customers are on the variable rate and we do all we can to encourage customers to move onto a fixed tariff, as our variable is genuinely intended as a temporary measure to ensure continuity of supply out of contract.

We promise that our tariffs will reflect the cost of getting energy to that customer

The Big Six segment their customers into sticky, loyal customers who are routinely over-charged; and regular switchers who are targeted with aggressively priced short term tariffs, designed to protect market share. The one cross-subsidises the other. This is bad for customers and seriously harms competition.

Our tariffs are cost-reflective. This means they broadly reflect the real cost of doing business, so whether they go up or down, customers can always see why and trust they’re getting a fair deal.

We promise not to hold on to your money for too long and pay you interest when your balance is in credit

The Big Six are under fire for holding in excess of £202 million, spread across 3.5 million closed household accounts. A further £204 million has been held from 300,000 business accounts.

We automatically refund any credit balances when customers switch away so this shouldn’t be a problem for us at all. Customers will have a full refund within a few weeks. We also did a big sweep a few months ago to ensure that there were no aged credit balances that had been missed.

We promise to get your bill right

Scottish Power and Npower have been threatened by Ofgem with a ban on taking on new customers following the introduction of a new billing system. (Meters must be read once a year and when the customer has sent in meter readings, the next bill must accurately reflect those readings).

Npower has been told by Ofgem it must meet strict targets to fix billing problems and to improve its complaints procedure or face a curb on sales, after it sent ex-customers huge bills months, and in some cases over a year, after they'd left the firm.

In 2014, we’re sorry to say we had a less than perfect record on billing. Though none of our customers were left out of pocket by what happened, we know how important it is for people to receive accurate statements and it’s a top priority for 2015 that we get this right.

We promise to make bills as easy-to-understand as possible

Which? and others have pointed out that bills are hard to read and that customers find it hard to know which is the cheapest tariff.

We have won an award from the Campaign for Plain English for how clear our bills are. However, we have had to change them to meet the new regulatory requirement from Ofgem. We do not always think this in the best interests of customers.

We promise to make sure prepayment customers are treated fairly and get as much benefit from smart meters as credit customers

Prepay customers are overcharged and last in the queue for smart meters, many of which will not be the most cost-efficient or effective technology option.

Our pre-payment tariff is the cheapest in the country and our smart enabled Pay As You Go technology is revolutionising the pre-payment experience.

We promise to make it as easy as possible for people to switch suppliers

Although the industry is moving toward faster switching, switching rates are still down 50% since 2008.

At OVO we will have six day switching in 2015, but we aim to get even faster. Beyond just faster switching, we want to restore trust so people think it’s worth switching at all.

We promise to do more to help our customers use less energy

The focus is still very much on building expensive new generation rather than saving and several companies have been fined for not completing their energy efficiency targets. The smart meter roll out also looks set to be an expensive failure.

Asking customers to subsidise expensive new generation should come second to helping them save. We look forward to starting our ECO roll out in 2015 and have ambitious plans for our smart meter/IHT business as well.

We promise to give the power back to the people

Through community generation, crowdfunding and collective switching, 2014 has been a good year but we are still a long way from democratising the energy industry.

However, we are pleased to say that 2015 will see the launch of our first pioneering OVO Communities partnerships.

We promise to reduce the carbon intensity and increase the renewable content of the energy we provide

Energy is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK (35% in 2012) and power stations, the largest contributor to energy emissions (79% in 2012). Coal, although an important part of the UK’s history, is a dirty pollutant and has very little place in our future.

We’re working hard on the policy side to encourage new market mechanisms to allow us to replace coal in the fuel mix. While this may be a long fight, we are consistently increasing the amount of renewable power we buy which directly reduces the amount coal-generated power we sell. We have to balance this with the cost, but we are proud of our track record.