Feedback/ why I left: I believe that you unfairly retained a very large credit for a very long time. I believe that this is unfair and unethical


Feedback/ why I left: I believe that you unfairly retained a very large credit for a very long time. I believe that this is unfair and unethical


20 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Hi @Addo68 

I imagine you have posted this because you wanted everyone to know that you have had this problem? Because these posts are read by customers, and two staff members who don't have access to anyone's accounts.

There's no reason for Pure Planet to hold on to anyone's undue credit balance for any length of time, and very definitely mechanisms for sorting out a problem like this - one of which is people posting here about it, and fellow customers helping to get it sorted.

Leaving is an unnecessarily drastic and not the most efficient way to solve the issue. Sorry we weren't able to help sooner. I'm assuming that you now have your credit returned.

Stephen

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

@Addo68 

Without further context I think the post is unfair and unethical and here is why…

With PP the t+c’s are you pay the first payment the day you switch, the intention being that credit is used up in the month following the start date, thus at the point of the statement date you would usually be in around a month’s credit. And so it goes monthly.

If the estimated annual use is askew (paying for more energy than you’re using over a longer term) PP can’t know that until many months have passed due to normal fluctuation but if a customer feels or thinks their balance is too high a review can be asked for at any time and will be treated fairly, PLUS if the customer is in difficulty they can ask for a reduced payment plan.

So as it stands other than a review being overlooked which I agree can happen, I see nothing unethical or unfair  here. If you used more than anticipated and your balance went negative but PP allowed it to continue as they believed it would pick up when the weather changed, would that be unethical?

Of course if you asked for a review and it didn’t happen that would be a different story… 

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

@Addo68 

in retrospect

I forgot to add that I think it’s a good thing that you posted the feedback, because it may highlight something that could be made better. My post above reads as though I’m criticising the feedback, that certainly isn’t the case. All feedback is good even if it’s bad…

https://community.purepla.net/testing-and-feedback-23

Hi @Addo68 

Thanks for posting in the Community and providing your feedback. 

Here at PP we aim to avoid Members building up large credits or debits on their accounts.

For that reason we have split Direct Debit payments - meaning you pay more in the colder months and less in the warmer months, to reflect average usage patterns. We also offer an option to request an account review at any time under ‘balance & payments’. When you request an account review our Member Services team review your readings and usage, payments and balance to make sure your monthly payments accurately reflect your usage, and to refund any extra credit in the account. 

It’d be really useful to hear more detailed feedback on this - for example, had you received an account review? 

Retaining any Members’ credit is definitely not what we set out to do, so any feedback here is valued. :slight_smile:

There are unfortunately a reasonable number of questions left by this feedback, and part of me thinks we’ll never know the answers as I feel that @Addo68 probably believes Pure Planet will link this to his/her account and know the background.

What are @Addo68’s definitions of:
 

A very large credit?

and 

An awfully long time?

People’s opinions on those to things are rarely likely to agree, and I’m probably the worst person to ask. I was in credit to Solarplicity by up to £1200 for a period of roughly a year, and it didn’t even phase me.

With Pure Planet, I seem to go the opposite way, spend April - September building up a debit balance, which is paid off during October - March.

I left PP for very similar reasons but not solely because I had a credit of £136 that would only got bigger for the following reasons:-

  1. PP just wouldn’t accept that I was a very light user, backed up by regular meter readings.
  2. PP will not allow you to adjust the amounts of your direct debit so that you only pay for the energy you use. You always end up paying more because they would rather I was in credit than owe them.
  3. PP have linked the DD amounts between Summer & Winter. So if I pay £75 in Winter, I’m not allowed to drop the Summer amount to £30 because that would be outside the range limits regardless if that was all that was required to pay for my energy usage.
  4. I see the point of 2 differing DD amounts during Summer & Winter. I joined in the Summer and it appeared that my comparison check only used my Summer consumption figures which gave an inflated view on how much I would save if I switched.
  5. During the switching process where was the clear message that there was 2 differing DD amounts? Came as quite a shock when my Winter DD arrived with quite a hefty increase.

I would happily reconsider going back to PP now that I know about the pitfalls and everything I have to do to get an accurate comparison. All the energy companies are the same, it can be very difficult to get an accurate 12 month consumption figure without delving into menus and sub-menus etc. It’s about time you were all regulated so that we could get the switching process done as painlessly and easily as possible. You can all do it but just don’t want to, in the hope that most people will see it as too much bother. I know that someone will say that the Energy sector is regulated  but it is with a soft glove rather than a claw hammer.

...

Hi @BruceS 

Welcome to the Pure Planet Community.

This is very interesting feedback, particularly as, at least so for as I understand it, some of the things use state just shouldn’t be able to happen, and some are actually required as part of the ‘regulation’ you complain is ‘too light touch.’


PP just wouldn’t accept that I was a very light user, backed up by regular meter readings.
Your usage pattern is based either on your entry when you signed up for your consumption, or the historic data recorded for your meter - not sure why PP wouldn’t accept based on readings though  - perhaps there’s a minimum term they need them for?

 

PP will not allow you to adjust the amounts of your direct debit so that you only pay for the energy you use. You always end up paying more because they would rather I was in credit than owe them.
The first part of your statement would require a constantly varying direct debit payment, I’m not sure if any energy provider permits that.
I’m not sure if, or how often, you requested an account review to rebalance your account and DD payments, which you should be able to do after three months.
I disagree with the second part of your statement, as I basically spend the whole ‘Spring/Summer’ period ‘owing’ Pure Planet,  then pay it back in the ‘Autumn/Winter’ period - I signed up in April 2019, so for the first 6 months or so of my membership, I had an increasing ‘Debit’ - and the pattern’s repeated every year since.
 

PP have linked the DD amounts between Summer & Winter. So if I pay £75 in Winter, I’m not allowed to drop the Summer amount to £30 because that would be outside the range limits regardless if that was all that was required to pay for my energy usage.

I guess they had to ‘draw a line’ somewhere, I find the opposite situation, I pay too much in the Winter, not enough in the Summer. In theory at least, if you were using £75 in the Winter Months, and £30 in the Summer Months, your payment would actually be set nearer to £63 Autumn/Winter, and £42 Spring/Summer - so it would balance out over a year.


I see the point of 2 differing DD amounts during Summer & Winter. I joined in the Summer and it appeared that my comparison check only used my Summer consumption figures which gave an inflated view on how much I would save if I switched.

Your comparison is made based upon what you state your energy usage is for the year, not your ‘Summer Consumption’ - legally all energy providers have to do this, comparison sites are allowed to use their own figures, but have to still compare ‘like’ with ‘like’ - the only way you should get a ‘false impression’ of savings is if the annual consumption figures used don’t reflect your actual usage - such as OFGEM TDCV figures.


During the switching process where was the clear message that there was 2 differing DD amounts? Came as quite a shock when my Winter DD arrived with quite a hefty increase.

It’s made very clear in the email you receive when you sign up that there are 2 DD amounts, or at least there was when I signed up:
 

This is at the start of your 14 day cooling off period, so plenty of time to cancel if you are unhappy with it.

In the interests of fairness, I went and checked on Energyhelpline, they do give you ‘averaged’ monthly amount, and state there is a ‘split’ in the ‘Additional Information’ box, but you should still know when you receive your Welcome Pack.

 

All the energy companies are the same, it can be very difficult to get an accurate 12 month consumption figure without delving into menus and sub-menus etc.

I’ve genuinely in some 9 years never seen this situation provided I have to hand the meter readings from 2 statements 12 months apart.
If you don’t know your own consumption than then yes it can be a faff, but that’s only because the company comparing has to use ‘educated guesswork’ to get the nearest TDCV (Typical Domestic Consumption Values.)


Then again, what I think is ‘relatively simple’ others may find ‘awkward’ - my best friend (may he rest in peace) used to have spreadsheets, notes, and comparisons for everything including his energy going back years so he could negotiate/find ‘the best price’ - when he passed away, his poor widow had no idea how to make sense of it all, and neither could I.


 

@Gwyndy you have more than adequately answered the grumble. Again we have somebody complaining when I don’t see there is much to complain about. You know what you are signing up for and how it works when you sign up. I also go into debit sometimes. At present I have a £56 credit according to the app. But it is hardly an issue. If that was in my bank account I would not get any interest on it and conversely if I was charged interest by PP when the account went red it would be a lot more than banks pay in savings.

Perhaps in the app PP could change the colours so that it shows red when you are in debit and blue when in credit. Like what our bank statements used to do so long ago!

A number seem to grumble about how money is collected, shown on bills and there being credits, sometimes debits. At first I thought PP’s info about this when a person signs up must be difficult to understand. But it isn’t. I joined in September 2018. It was obvious to me how the system worked. But it seems not so some. Perhaps it is not a comfortable thing to say but the fault is often the consumer’s. Yes there will be mistakes from time to time but I wonder what the ratio is between customer errors and PP errors?

Hi @BruceS, great feedback and answers so far.

Just to add, I’ve been in debit with PP for over a year, and my payments are now gradually reducing that debt. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

I think a lot of people just don't read the info sent to them when they sign up 

@Scubaseahorse I wonder what the solution is? There is also another problem for those that write the info for us. Comprehension or the ability to comprehend. That is of concern when we are told most of the tabloid newspapers are written in a style for those with a reading age of a 9 year old. The Sun I think is 8.  The consequences of that are headlines that draw attention, followed by articles that don’t tell you anything and readers who believe it. It never ceases to amaze me what people may readily believe. Apart from doctrinal matters, which are a long standing example,  there are some who believe men cannot father children for 5 years after having had the Covid vaccination. 

From the many queries raised here there are a number whom, as you say, probably never read what is sent to them, or don’t take on board what they do read. I strongly suspect, based on my own experience of us humans, that most organisations find the majority of complaints arise because of a lack of understanding. The right balance is inform without belittling and not in a manner that is beyond comprehension. You still have the problem of those who had not read or understood but then won’t accept that was the case and continue their cause.

.err, the Earth is flat isn’t  it?!!

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

@BruceS Not much to add other than every single issue raised apart from the split winter/summer payments would be the same with any energy provider. 

(And most of the issues could be addressed by taking the first payment 2 weeks later)

Also a message to customer services asking them to reduce your payment temporarily which I’m sure they would have done, would have addressed every point. Good luck whoever you move to, but a word of “advice” (it isn’t advice but observation)

If you find an energy provider that suits the framework you have in your head of how it should work, and for example it costs £30 or £50 or £80 or £100 a year more*, vs having a “permanent” credit balance of £136  or even £200 (to pay the month following), I know which I would choose unless I had a way of turning that balance into a massive profit.

Of course this is unfair on those with very limited incomes, but so is the price of energy wherever you go.

*If it costs less that’s a win. (until they cease trading).

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Oh so true @G4RHL 

As I stated previously, customer services can only move the value of the DD within a fixed range. If you bring down the price of the Winter cost, you bring down the cost of Summer too which PP then states you won’t be paying in enough to cover the cost of your energy. Unless PP unlink the Winter & Summer DD cost, I will always end up with a large credit balance. I’m off to Green with a year round DD of £48 which should be just about right for keeping me in credit, just.

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

As I stated previously, customer services can only move the value of the DD within a fixed range. If you bring down the price of the Winter cost, you bring down the cost of Summer too which PP then states you won’t be paying in enough to cover the cost of your energy. Unless PP unlink the Winter & Summer DD cost, I will always end up with a large credit balance. I’m off to Green with a year round DD of £48 which should be just about right for keeping me in credit, just.

@BruceS 

I wish you luck and it’s probably a win for you because Green  are cheaper than PP (or they are for my area) however other than the fact that they may be cheaper I disagree with your reasoning.

Do you use more energy in the colder months?

Are you willing to share the percentage figures, looking at what you use between April and Sept. Compared with what you use from October to March?

If you’re anything like the average you won’t keep in credit (just) unless you’re overpaying.

(or unless you have much better than average insulation)

 

 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

I thought so….

Looking at my last 12 months’ bills there have been three months in the past 12 where I have been in debit, the rest have always been showing a credit balance. The debit months have been:

July 2021

April 2021

September 2020 (only just)

If I go back further the next month in 2020 that I went into debit was April 2020. Mostly I am in credit.

That was the main issue with PP. Although I used more energy in the Winter months, it was never as much as what PP were expecting and their hands were tied due to the link between DD prices. They couldn’t increase the Winter DD by £15 for example, because they were expecting you to use £30 extra.

 

I do have very good insulation, I tend to do more work in the Winter months which means the house is empty more of the time and I don’t seem to be affected by the cold as much as the average person which means my heating is not on as much. The energy companies want us all to be paying using the same formula because it brings down the admin costs and keeps everything simple. Anomalies like me are just a pain in the a%% because we don’t fit into a standard box.

 

I don’t mind overpaying but I want it to be within reason and variable. If I’m paying £50 a month, am already in credit by £100 and my consumption costs are £15, why would I not be allowed to drop it to £20 or £25? The excuse I get is:- “Computer says NO, or system won’t let me drop it that far”. So I end up overpaying by £35 a month for however long.

What I struggle to understand is:
If your usage is approx £48 per month over the year, why couldn’t Pure Planet set it at roughly £57.60 Autumn Winter, £38.40 Spring Summer?

I use more than Pure Planet expect Summer/early Autumn, and less than Pure Planet expect late Autumn/early Winter (my ‘peak months’ over the last year were June/July, December/January) yet mine rarely gets as far out as yours appears to.
 

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

That was the main issue with PP. Although I used more energy in the Winter months, it was never as much as what PP were expecting and their hands were tied due to the link between DD prices. They couldn’t increase the Winter DD by £15 for example, because they were expecting you to use £30 extra.

 

I do have very good insulation, I tend to do more work in the Winter months which means the house is empty more of the time and I don’t seem to be affected by the cold as much as the average person which means my heating is not on as much. The energy companies want us all to be paying using the same formula because it brings down the admin costs and keeps everything simple. Anomalies like me are just a pain in the a%% because we don’t fit into a standard box.

 

I don’t mind overpaying but I want it to be within reason and variable. If I’m paying £50 a month, am already in credit by £100 and my consumption costs are £15, why would I not be allowed to drop it to £20 or £25? The excuse I get is:- “Computer says NO, or system won’t let me drop it that far”. So I end up overpaying by £35 a month for however long.

@BruceS 

I agree with @Gwyndy or at least with the question he asked.

The computer never said no to me when I asked for my payment to be set. (although it wasn’t the same scenario)

I think this is more a case of miscommunication than rigid policy. (I would add if that inflexibility does exist it shouldn’t and my guess is if you would have sent a message suggesting a lower amount and explaining why, PP would have agreed, they set payment plans all the time). 

 

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