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How to pay without using direct debit

posted by danlab | A year ago

Hi all,

I would like to change my payment method from "Monthly Direct Debit" to "I pay you monthly according to my meter readings". For the second time in 2 months, SP has changed my direct debit, increasing it. On my first bill, they tried to put it at over £100, while my bill was around £23. Now, with a direct debit set to £40 and a monthly average of £26 (and I am currently £25 in credit, which basically means I have already paid a month in advance...), they increased the direct debit to £63.66, lowering it to £59 after my complaints.

I understand the direct debit is calculated taking into account various factors, but I simly don't want to pay in advance so much money. I may be away from home in winter and SP wouldn't know about this when estimating the direct debit amount.

I want to be the one who owes money, which makes sense. I am using a servic, so I owe SP some money. The current state of thing is the opposite, with SP owing me money (and they will pay their debt by providing the service at some point in the future). I want them to "chase" me for money, as I know I will pay immediately after having updated my meter readings. I don't want to be the one chasing them, as it may be more complicated. Also, again, I don't see why I should pay for a service before it's been provided.

The crucial thing here is that the estimated direct debit is not £5 or £10 off. This month, I am payng 300% what I should pay. If I went to my employer asking to be paid today for this month, the next and the one after that...well, the HR department would laugh at me and send me back to my desk (or home).

For the reasons stated above, I would like to cancel the direct debit and proceed to monthly payments "manually". Does anyone know if the bank transfer needs to have a reference number for SP to realise that's a payment related to my bill / my account?

Thanks.

11 comments
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Top answer

posted by Davc | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit

Hi Danlab, Sounds like a good idea you have, but don't cancel the DD without telling them that you want to stop it or it might harm your credit rating. When it has stopped send a meter reading each month and pay the bill which will be raised. I don't know what bank reference number they need but your account name and number seem obvious. It would be easier to pay through your SP account using a card, then it is linked to your account automatically.

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posted by danlab | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit
Thanks Davc! I will follow your advice Smiley Happy
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posted by Davc | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit

Hi again danlab. There might be a problem, some tariffs insist on operation by DD, have a look at your tariff terms. 

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posted by Jonnel | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit

As I see it the real problem here is not the reasoning behind paying in advance for something you're 'going to' use but that Scottish Power's algorithms for calculating how much their customers should pay each month is ridiculously off. In all fairness, SP have no control over how much gas or electric you're 'going to' use, so it's not really fair to expect them to 'chase you for money' should you suddenly decide to run your heating all day every day for a month. If someone came up with an unexpected monthly usage of £1000 they'd soon be asking for time to pay it, and SP would HAVE to let them. Lots of small businesses up and down the country have gone bust because of unpaid/late paid bills and though SP's a big firm it has LOTS of customers - it wouldn't take much to rock it if lots of customers owed lots of money... But I agree, by the same token when your usage is lower, they SHOULD reflect that in your payments, yet they often don't. 

It's annoying that with todays almost faultless BACS system, it's just as easy to automatically refund monthly credits as it is to automatically increase monthly direct debits. But do they do that ?

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posted by Davc | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit

Hi Jonnel, reading recent comments it seems SP have adjusted their DD calculations. A new feature is asking for cash up front before reducing a DD.  I think that if I am paying one twelfth of my annual costs it is fair enough, but many people would like to pay less in Summer than in Winter, and that is what is penalised by the latest changes. Another factor is that many accept estimated readings but complain when their DD alters. People assume that meter readers will come, or their smart meters will work, and that they never have to read their bills or read their meters. Sadly that is not the case. A lot of the adverse comments on this forum  arise because people have not paid attention to their accounts and only notice when it is too late.  It is ironic that the switch to smart meters has led to more confusion over estimates and DD adjustments. I liked your comments.

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posted by Jonnel | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit

Davc - I agree entirely with the premise that it would be impossible to formulate a payment system to please everyone. I'm sure some do just as you say - they don't read meters, don't read bills, don't pay on time... But why does that make it right to punish those who do ?

I have to disagree with you that this asking for money up front is a new feature. It isn't. Using the online direct debit manager to reduce monthly payments has ALWAYS incurred a one-off payment if the requested reduction is a sizeable portion of the original amount. What HAS changed (for me at least) is the SIZE of that one-off payment.

For example, I was in credit by £100+ last month. My next DD was due at £64. I punched in meter readings which brought my monthly bill out at £35, so I asked to reduce the next DD by £24 to £40, to reduce my credit balance a little, and the one-off payment the system wanted was £475.

... so I punched in numbers to reduce the DD by 81pence - yes, just 81 pence, just to see - and the system wanted a one-off payment of £200 for that priviledge...

Potentially, that's a DD reduction of 81p for ONE MONTH only...

Considering SP automatically increase my DD whenever my usage increases, I do not see why they cannot automatically refund by BACS when my usage decreases. My bill reflects a discount for paying by DD, so their billing system can differentiate between my payment plan and others, so if I supply my meter readings monthly (as I do) how can they justify withholding my credit balance of £600, as they did to me a year or so ago. 

And then they wonder why decent customers believe they're being taken advantage of for being prompt payers. It's enough to make you think SP are running their business off the credit balances of those prompt payers.

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posted by pissedoff | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit

Paying by direct debit seemed OK, but my usage hasnt changed much over the last 3 years yet earlier this year my bill rose from 120 to 220  (about 2-3 months ago). Now they have decided it should be 303 a month! I am around 450 in debit and my previous period usage is actually just 126. In order to reduce my bill to 243 (the minimum amount - more than 100 more than my usage last month I am expected to pay a lump sum of 460 which would mean that by the middle of september I was more than 100 in credit, in one payment. I will telephone a human tomorrow. If this isnt sorted out I will be changing my supplier.  You may consider me a "Bad" customer as I am not in credit. Why should I pay ahead of usage?

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posted by NotRICH | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit
Dear Pissed off - I nearly chose your username when I joined, and came here to say the same thing.
Seems SP don't intend to listen to their paying customers, and see us all as walking wallets for their immense profits. Imagine if I went shopping and could only afford £25 less this week - but that's okay because my family has gone on holiday and I don't have so many mouths to feed - so I buy just what I NEED and go to pay.
But the supermarket has a policy that you can ONLY pay what they THINK you should, so they refuse to take cash for what you bought, and insist that you pay £50 MORE because THEY have decided you might need it.
How long would you keep going to that Store?????
Yet Scottish Power is acting in exactly that way, and if you don't like it, tough cookies pal.
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posted by Davc | A year ago
Re: How to pay without using direct debit

Hi NotRich, Amusing story about supermarkets, of course you can pay SP by quarterly cash but most people do not like getting bills for 4 or 5 hundred p[ounds in winter and prefer to spread the cost over the year. Its like the supermarket charging a bit extra in the summer so you have spare money for Christmas.  The DD system works well for most people and if you want to avoid big jumps in DD after sending in a true meter reading you can always pay off the debt in cash, that would put your DD back to one twelfth of your annual cost. It really is not a conspiracy to defraud you, you just have to pay what you owe and everything will be good.

It is true that SP and others benefit from huge cash surpluses in Summer, but nobody remembers the huge debts that energy companies carry in Winter.