SSE and Ovo: pain from prepaid meters and harrowing lawsuits

I have a serious problem with SSE Energy, because every time I recharge my prepaid meter, it puts 70% of the money towards the debt in my account.

Over four days, the company has taken £77 of £110 of top-ups. I am a single mother with two children and cannot afford payments at this level but no one will listen.

I have had some financial difficulties and I owe you about £1,000. Over a year ago he installed a prepaid meter and everything was going well until Friday April 21st.

I had used up all my emergency credit, so I topped up my petrol with £40. Out of nowhere he put up £28 towards my debt and gave me a £12 petrol credit.

On Sunday I put another 30 pounds on the meter. Again £21 went towards debt and £9 towards petrol. The next day I called the company’s helpline and they told me that they would not charge me this fee the next time I recharged.

So I charged another £40 but again £28 went towards debt leaving £12 for petrol. Realizing that 70% of my top-up money was going towards debt payments, I called and explained that it was too much.

They told me that 70% was the standard rate and I explained, again, that I couldn’t afford that much. I also asked if I could take advantage of government benefits. breathing spatial scheme.

After requesting to speak to a manager, I received a call that evening. They advised me to top up with £10 so I could take 70% as it was a weekly rate.

When I told him I was charged 70% each time, he promised to look into it and call back within 24 hours. Two days later and I haven’t heard a thing.

I work as a freelance and have universal credit. I also suffer from clinical depression. SSE has all this information. Can you help?

SL, London

My 95 year old cousin JF has been receiving payment demands from Ovo Energy since January. This is very distressing for her and she worries that the sheriffs might break into her apartment to install a prepaid meter.

He has never been an Ovo customer. Its supplier is Octopus Energy. He has tried to write to the company and return the letters.

I contacted Ovo via web chat and he told me to return the letters. I also tried to call them but they hung up without a resolution. I don’t know what to do next. The letters keep coming.

J.K., Cardiff

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This week’s column is dedicated to Ovo Energy after it managed to stand out in an inbox full of complaints about energy companies.

At a time when the use of prepaid meters in the industry is under fierce scrutiny, SL’s debt recovery rate was worrying. Especially since Ovo (it bought SSE’s retail arm in 2020) was one of the companies that gave pay-as-you-go customers a “vacation” from debt recovery during the winter months.

Debt collection is administered by the “debt recovery rate,” or DRR, set on the meter. There is no industry standard for this; however, all utility companies must consider the customer’s ability to pay and set the DRR accordingly. Being charged at this level is clearly not sustainable for you, and the advice given by Ovo’s call handlers has been misleading at best.

We asked Ovo to urgently look into the matter and after investigating, they told us that the DRR had been incorrectly entered into their system. This has now been corrected and a credit of £49 has been applied to your account. He has also accepted a goodwill gesture of £80. The company has now discussed debt repayment options with you and referred you to their vulnerability team for assistance.

He mentioned a breather (sometimes called a debt relief plan), which can give you up to 60 days of space from creditors to focus on getting debt advice and establishing a debt solution. It is not a paid holiday; however, it would prevent action against you if you are unable to pay.

Meanwhile, poor JF has received 10 letters, and counting, demanding payment from a rogue Ovo account. The most recent letter said that the debt had reached almost £600.

The company has also investigated this matter and tells us that the flat address was incorrectly registered in the national database.

He has apologized and insists that the error has been corrected. This should stop the letters. If more arrive, please return them to the sender.

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