This is going to be a long post, I apologise if you fall asleep
Let me give you the counterside of your argument, a few facts won't hurt (although as I always say why spoil a perfectly good argument with facts...)
I agree vast improvement is needed but the money issue doesn't happen because they are sneaky, it happens because of the legacy systems they all work to.
1. Direct debits come with a guarantee, if you disagree with the amount that's been taken your bank will reverse the DD, generally speaking with no or very few questions asked. (for example if you say the company has taken money for goods or services they have not provided) Other methods of payment are much harder to reverse instantly.
2.They aren't (or at least PP aren't) sneaky b*stards, they are handcuffed as are every other energy company by the archaic switching process, not their fault. I'll come back to why that matters later on.
3. When you switch companies it's the luck of timing as to where in the month your DD lie, so for example your DD in outgoing co. lets call it Outco Energy may fall at the month start. You can time to an extent when the DD is taken from the co. you switch into, for example switching into PP takes 17 days if all is well and the DD is taken on day 1, so you can backtime by 17 days but many don't.
Lets say you switch and it so happens that it ends up with your DD for Inco. Energy is also at month start.
When you switch the readings which are used to calculate your final Outco.Energy bill have to be verified by a 3rd party, that can take weeks, longer if there is a query. You are going to pay 2 DD's in the same month. Knowing that IF YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN GOOD CREDIT WITH Outco Energy you can call them and say I'm switching please reduce or suspend the DD. Of course it may be that you will owe them in which case it isn't unreasonable for them to take the DD.
Finally YOU WILL NEVER PAY TWICE FOR THE SAME ENERGY.
As far as Outco Energy are concerned you're still a customer until your final bill is produced so they will continue to take the DD until they produce the final bill (there is something you can do about that, but it involves communicating with Outco Energy. -more later)
The situation at the switch point in time is completely variable, because Outco Energy and every other energy company don't appear to have smart people and systems in place when you send in the switch request. You might owe them hundreds or nothing, or they might owe you. Because they don't look at your usage and project to an approximate amount they assume that you should just continue to pay and they will refund if you overpay.
By cancelling the DD you're giving yourself more aggravation if you're expecting a refund, because Outco. wont be able to pay it, as they won't have a record of where to pay it (data protection etc they can't keep or assume your bank details if you cancel) so you'll have to contact them.
How can it be fixed?
Two things need to happen, industry wide:
1. The energy cos need to put very smart algorithms in place to project where your readings are going to be on the switch date, work out an approximate amount that you'll owe or they will owe at that date and adjust the next DD or in some cases 2 DD's accordingly, and inform you what and why. Thus the final bill or refund will be minimal either way.
2. Presently the energy cos are allowed 6 weeks to produce a final bill, and sometimes for no fault of their own it does take that or longer.
So there needs to be legislation that unless there are extenuating circumstances like being unable to get readings or communicate with the account holder, it should be reduced to 2 weeks - perfectly achievable with technology, and where they fail to meet this deadline though their stupidity or disinterest there should be a penalty.
If the supplier gets it wrong you have a DD guarantee, when used cautiously it works, I know because I've done it, I once reversed 2 payments leaving them still owing me a small amount, it was PITA to communicate all that but it was just taking too long for them to finalise. (They went bust in the end but even if they didn't you have a complaints process and the ombudsman so you have a good degree of protection)
Nothing to do with your post, but while we're here I just had to deal with a well known teleco. proVIdeR who really are unethical and sneaky (I'll let you guess) and I have to say that dealing with the energy cos is like breath of fresh air compared with them.
Don't honour previous calls and lie to the customer for starters argghhhh....
so yes I understand your frustration, but it's not the fault of most providers, it's down to sensible gov. legislation and Ofgem
Originally Posted by KevRev