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Wot a Bulb: Energy firms going bust

Started by Blue Jam, November 22, 2021, 02:55:35 PM

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Blue Jam

Just wanted to hear some thoughts on this. Bulb Energy are the latest small energy supplier to go into administration:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59373198

We're with Bulb along with a load of other people I know thanks to everyone doing that Refer A Friend thing on facebook, so I guess they're one of the larger "small" suppliers and it looks like this will affect 1.7 million peeps:



I also saw this coming as a few months ago Bulb asked us to increase us monthly direct debit from about £45 to £75 "To ensure your account does not go into arrears over the winter" despite the account being in credit, and while I did get to reduce the payment a bit the lowest I could get to was £63, so they seemed to be in a bit of a panic to make a bit more interest on everyone's credit while they still could. I didn't want to end up in yet another scenario where an energy company is making interest on a few hundred quid I've deposited with them and where trying to claim it back is like getting blood out of a stone. When did energy companies all start doing this instead of just billing you for what you've actually used?

Also: is there any energy supplier that still lets you pay on receipt of bill like they did in the olden days? Or one that doesn't send you a letter suggesting you install a smart meter once a month? Perhaps Bulb wouldn't have gone bust if they'd realised they could save money by not sending out so many letters about smart meters to renters and other people who can't install them or don't want them.

greencalx

Oh fuck. I quite liked Bulb, on account of the fact that they were the only energy company not to hassle me all the fucking time.

My understanding is that you should get transferred to a different supplier (British Gas, most likely, whose clutches I will have to escape for the third time) with your credit intact.

EDIT: I never got a letter about smart meters - just a few emails, and finally succumbed last winter as they had got round to installing the ones that allow you to change energy supplier, ironically enough. I had a big bust-up with EDF who insisted I had to have one of their crappy first gen meters, which I refused, quoting evidence given by their own CEO to a Commons Select Committee on how crappy the first gen meters were...

Blue Jam

Quote from: greencalx on November 22, 2021, 02:58:01 PMOh fuck. I quite liked Bulb, on account of the fact that they were the only energy company not to hassle me all the fucking time.

My understanding is that you should get transferred to a different supplier (British Gas, most likely, whose clutches I will have to escape for the third time) with your credit intact.

Bulb were pretty good for us too, much less hassle than Scottish Power who seem to be completely impossible to contact, and British Gas, who like you I don't want to have to deal with again.

We won't be getting transferred to a new supplier just yet though as Bulb are too big to fail:

QuoteBulb will become the first energy company to be placed into "special administration", where it is run by the government through the regulator Ofgem.

This measure is only used if Ofgem is unable to find another company to take over an energy firm's customers.

Bulb is the UK's seventh biggest energy company and has 1,000 staff. It has been trying to shore up its balance sheet for several weeks.

Ofgem set up the Special Administrator Regime (SAR) for when an energy company goes bust but is too big to have its customers transferred to another firm.

"It has been trying to shore up its balance sheet for several weeks"- I know they have, the sneaky fucks. Don't know if Bulb being state-run means they'll still be able to try and fleece customers into building up a big credit balance though:

QuoteIt is written into the rules that a special administrator, unlike an ordinary administrator, has an obligation to consider consumers' interests as well as those of creditors who are owed money by Bulb.

I just hope I can get my monthly payment amount knocked down again, £63 is taking the piss.

greencalx

Yeah, I'd quite like the old-fashioned approach of paying three months in arrears back. The algorithm for determining the monthly DD seems a bit fucked. We were actually invited to reduce our monthly payment, but I calculated that if we took their advice, we'd end up with a massive debt to them and they'd have to to whack the payment back up again to compensate. I did not see this process converging on a stable limit, so just left the monthly payment as 1/12th of our annual spend.

I'm not actually that worried. It's Scottish Power and Scottish Gas Networks who pump the actual electrons / gas molecules into the house. The retailer is just window dressing.

Zetetic

Edit: Ignore me, should read the thread properly.

Replies From View

I like it when energy firms go bust.  I think it's good

pigamus


Shit Good Nose

Quote from: pigamus on November 22, 2021, 03:43:52 PMI'm with E.On, how are they doing

If Eon go, then you're getting into BIG 6 territory there.  Bulb themselves are actually pretty big as far as the independents go, so "shit's serious" now.  Keep your eyes on Ovo (who bought SSE's domestic business a few years ago [SSE are not in trouble, they're just concentrating on supplies to commercial and industrial now]) and Octopus.

Wouldn't be surprised if the BIG 6 are all we're left with before too long, which has advantages and disadvantages.

Jerzy Bondov

Suspect if any of the big 6 get in trouble they will be bailed out with taxpayer money

Shit Good Nose

Quote from: Jerzy Bondov on November 22, 2021, 03:57:29 PMSuspect if any of the big 6 get in trouble they will be bailed out with taxpayer money

I can't really see it happening to be honest as they get significant income streams from large business and industry, as well as lots of foreign investment and large-scale renewables.  Most of the independents' income is from the supply of energy alone.

Mobbd

Quote from: Blue Jam on November 22, 2021, 02:55:35 PMWhen did energy companies all start doing this instead of just billing you for what you've actually used?

Good question. I was out of the country between 2009 and 2015. I came back to this shambles, a situation/policy I had never heard of before. So it happened somewhere between those years, I reckon. And now it seems to be normal and expected.

I remember sputtering like a blustery gammon on the phone. The call centre person said "well how much could you afford?" as if being regularly billed for energy I hadn't used was a matter of being able to afford it. Bizarre.

It was E-On who gave me this hassle, resulting in me moving to Bulb (via CaB favourite Richard Herring!).

I have liked Bulb despite the credit thing. I have managed to keep the credit situation relatively low and their customer service has been good. I have no doubt they would have granted a billing vacation had I asked. Their little infographics about my energy use are good too. Shame they are BANKRUPT now. Heh.

Dr Rock

I was hoping for this, as owe Bulb several thousand pounds. Now what?

pigamus

If they ask you how much you can afford, say five pounds a month, and stick to that come hell or high water

touchingcloth

I was with Bulb in 2016, and even back then they were doing the "we're increasing your minimum to stop you going into arrears", but I obsessively track our usage and the summer months deliberately went into credit and the winter ones into arrears, so I said no thank you and told them to go back to the original DD amounts.

Our supplier here in Portugal went bust, which was very sad as they were structured as a cooperative who only bought from green sources. Here the government regulates the maximum suppliers can charge, and has a handful of suppliers-of-last-resort who are able to provide a regulated tariff, which is normally more than the tariffs available on the open market, but due to the regulated tariffs being subsidised by the government they've recently become more favourable to consumers and most small suppliers meaning that the small suppliers who are not eligible to offer regulated tariffs (which is all of them, I believe) are getting fucked, and those with the smallest cash reserves are going bump.

Utilities are the area which most makes a mockery of the idea that the market is the answer to all ills. Consumers don't have a choice in whose pipes come to their house or where their energy actually comes from, so the market adds fuck all value, and only brings the problems of people skimming cream and picking low-hanging fruit.

Quote from: Dr Rock on November 22, 2021, 04:39:14 PMI was hoping for this, as owe Bulb several thousand pounds. Now what?

Either they'll survive and you'll still owe them several thousand pounds, or they'll die and you'll be assigned a new energy company who you'll then owe several thousand pounds.

Shit Good Nose

Quote from: Blue Jam on November 22, 2021, 02:55:35 PMWhen did energy companies all start doing this instead of just billing you for what you've actually used?

Quote from: Mobbd on November 22, 2021, 04:18:17 PMGood question. I was out of the country between 2009 and 2015. I came back to this shambles, a situation/policy I had never heard of before. So it happened somewhere between those years, I reckon. And now it seems to be normal and expected.

It's all because a lot of the startups in the early-mid 2010s didn't bill any of their customers for months on end.  There were two very notable ones - First Utility was one, I can't remember the other - who didn't send out bills for up to two years.  And, of course, rather than put money away on the assumption that they would be billed eventually for everything they'd used, a lot of customers assumed they were getting free energy, and then when they got lumped with a bill for a couple of thousand pounds covering a couple of years worth of energy, you can imagine the reaction.  Following that the domestic industry regs changed and, as far as I know, ALL suppliers MUST get their customers (who are not on pre-payment meters) to set up direct debits.

Dr Rock


Quote from: Huxleys Babkins on November 22, 2021, 04:52:19 PMEither they'll survive and you'll still owe them several thousand pounds, or they'll die and you'll be assigned a new energy company who you'll then owe several thousand pounds.

Either way they can whistle for it.

Dr Rock

Quote from: Shit Good Nose on November 22, 2021, 04:56:23 PMas far as I know, ALL suppliers MUST get their customers (who are not on pre-payment meters) to set up direct debits.

When did this come in? I signed up to Bulb about four years ago, not on direct debit or pre-payment.

Shit Good Nose

Quote from: Dr Rock on November 22, 2021, 05:22:18 PMWhen did this come in? I signed up to Bulb about four years ago, not on direct debit or pre-payment.

Not sure - I haven't had any vocational dealings with the domestic market for a few years now.

Jerzy Bondov

I was with Pure Planet. "Will our energy supplier go bust?" said wife. "No. It's funded by BP. British Petroleum, my dear. It'll be fine."

Well BP pulled their funding didn't they

earl_sleek

Quote from: Shit Good Nose on November 22, 2021, 04:56:23 PMFollowing that the domestic industry regs changed and, as far as I know, ALL suppliers MUST get their customers (who are not on pre-payment meters) to set up direct debits.

I know someone who up until a month ago was paying monthly via card, so I don't think that's the case.

earl_sleek

I was with Bulb until earlier this year - signed up a few years ago as Npower's customer service was impressively useless (eg telling me they couldn't provide energy to my address even though they already were) and Bulb were the cheapest on Uswitch, but they jacked up the price fairly sharpish and I changed to Eon, who seem ok so far.

MojoJojo

Make sure you take meter readings and record them. I got screwed when Green went bust in January g they didn't pass my lass meter reading on so iive had to pay a load of gas twice
At least I think that's what happened, I don't have any record to prove it.

Rev+

Quote from: Shit Good Nose on November 22, 2021, 03:50:36 PMKeep your eyes on Ovo (who bought SSE's domestic business a few years ago [SSE are not in trouble, they're just concentrating on supplies to commercial and industrial now]) and Octopus.

Octopus going over would be hilariously shit as they've just had all of Avro's customers transferred to them.


touchingcloth

I fucking HATE how tariffs are essentially impossible to compare to one another, as you need detailed spreadsheets to work out whether a given unit and day rate for gas plus a separate unit and day rate for electric, and especially so if you're moving to a new house and switching between the fuels that things like the oven, central heating and hot water run on.

Neomod

I'm with BG and I've never been asked to pay in advance. Just take meter readings each quarter and pay the resultant bill.

IsavedLatin

I've been watching all this energy business kerfuffle this year (admittedly as a know-nothing civilian), ever since my supplier, Green Network Energy, went bust in the first half of the year. I got put on to EDF, and the jungle dreams were already saying bad times ahead, shop around and get locked into a decent fixed deal with some non-bastards, so I was already doing my research when out of the blue EDF told me they'd be doubling my Direct Debit. When I queried this, I got almost a copy-and-paste of Mobbd's experience:

Quote from: Mobbd on November 22, 2021, 04:18:17 PMGood question. I was out of the country between 2009 and 2015. I came back to this shambles, a I remember sputtering like a blustery gammon on the phone. The call centre person said "well how much could you afford?" as if being regularly billed for energy I hadn't used was a matter of being able to afford it. Bizarre.

I moved on to another supplier, and took them up on the offer of the free installation of a smart meter as I'd always suspected that I might be overpaying anyway, and surely more data would help to counter that. However this thread is causing me to second-guess myself: are smart meters a bad thing?

mothman

For some reason I thought Ovo had gone under, and then kept wondering why they were still sponsoring the weather on Channel 4.

We're with Octopus, who I think have taken on some displaced customers. Hoping they're not overextending themselves..

TrenterPercenter

If you haven't paid your bill and your supplier goes bust do you still have to pay them?

Jerzy Bondov

Quote from: TrenterPercenter on November 22, 2021, 06:49:52 PMIf you haven't paid your bill and your supplier goes bust do you still have to pay them?
No just tell them you have also gone bust