Direct debit rethink at E.ON

Big Six supplier E.ON has decided to overhaul its Direct Debit (DD) policy after customer complaints it was unfair. The changes came into effect on January 16th this year but […]

By Sumit Bose

Big Six supplier E.ON has decided to overhaul its Direct Debit (DD) policy after customer complaints it was unfair. The changes came into effect on January 16th this year but were only announced yesterday.

The change centres around something called the “Spring Review” date when they expect customers on DD contracts to have a zero balance. In essence E.ON was working out the energy spend of a customer based on their previous annual bill and then dividing it by 12. Consequently if you joined before the winter you’d often be paying less for your energy than you should and face a bill or higher DD rate come the Spring Review.

Customers surveyed by the firm complained this was unfair as they had not been able to build up enough credit over the summer months to cover their higher winter energy use. E.ON has now changed its DD process so any customer who joins in the second half of the year is given up to 18 months to get their Direct Debit accounts to a zero balance.

Tony Cocker, Chief Executive of E.ON said: “We recognise that our Direct Debit policy was causing problems for some of our customers and so this is the first step in improving this. We’ll now look at further improvements, including giving customers more choice about how we deal with any over or underspend at their annual review and allowing customers’ Direct Debit levels to immediately reflect any change in circumstances which may affect the amount of energy they’re using.”

Responding to the change Audrey Gallacher from Consumer Focus said: “We welcome the move by E.ON to change its Direct Debit policy. It is a victory for common sense and hopefully the first of many steps the company will take in its Reset Review programme to improve the experience of its customers. With this in mind we call on E.ON to look again at doorstep selling, which it continues to do despite all of its major competitors stopping the practice. If E.ON is serious about listening to customers then it must explain why it is the only one of the Big Six to still sell energy on the doorstep.”