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Symbio Energy - Stupid Estimated Bills


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Hi,

I'm surprised there isn't already a thread on this outfit.   

The way they work is that they bill for electricity in advance, using their "estimate" for that month's use. 

If you provide a meter reading at the end of the month, then the next bill contains a correction for any over or under charge.   

 

So for example the May bill includes charges for 31 days standing charge, and for an "estimated" number of units for May,

but also includes a calulation for the previous month comparing estimated and actual use, and applying a credit or presumably a debit as appropriate. 

The bills are not easy to read, but essentially you end up paying for what you use.

 

Our problems started in January when they suddenly started to work off really high estimates meaning you're paying in advance for electricity that you won't actually use, and although the over charge is credited next month it's coupled with another stupid estimate for the following month. 

 

To put that in context their estimate for December turned out to be only 6% higher than our actual use. 

Their estimate for January was 52% high than their estimate for December, and 88% higher than our actual use.

 

I've gone through a series of months in which I've challenged their estimates, each time the meter readings have shown that I was right and they were wrong. 

in April I dug my heels in and raised a formal complaint, stated that I would not pay any bill based on a stupid estimate and suggested either a fixed monthly sum (I named a figure), or to pay in arrears each month based on actual use. 

Their initial response was to ask for a fixed monthly payment, naming a figure higher than any of their previous variable bills. 

 

I was wondering if anyone else has been going through anything like this process, and if so then have they managed to reach any sort of resolution?

 

Thanks, Tony S

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Posted (edited)

Are you sending them the reading each month, if No read the meter yourself and send the reading each month .

Edited by 45002

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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Are they proposing to set up a direct debit? If they are then the direct debit has to be with your approval and you will have to tell them how much it's going to be and that if they argue about it then you will make a complaint to the energy ombudsman. That is your starting point.

You need to write down a detailed account of everything that has happened, the conversations, the bills – et cetera.

In further phone calls with them you should be recording your calls. Read our customer services guide. This is essential

In fact I just noticed that you've been here since 2016 so you know all about the customer services guide and you have already implemented the advice there to record your calls. Bravo

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FWIW BGAS are just about to start a new company that will be far cheaper than most of these miniature independent providers

pers i'd switch ASAP.

 

 

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Thanks for the comments.  Yes I'm providing meter readings.  There was a bit of confusion earlier as they used to bill from the 2nd of each month to the 1st of the next, so ideal meter reading was on the first.  They then changed to billing from 1st of the month, so ideal readings need to be from the last day.

 

However the meter reading doesn't affect the estimate for the following month.  They're billing in advance so the amount billed is always an estimate.

 

So my current situation is that after several months of complaining about excessive estimates I mutinied, cancelled the DD and said I would only pay either a bill based on a realistic estimate in advance, or a fixed monthly amount of a sensible amount, or in arrears based on actual consumption once the meter reading is submitted.  Since then we've exchanged a million emails in which they've tried to persuade me that (a) their estimates are realistic based on some mythical "national database" and (b) that I shouldn't worry because any overcharge is reconciled in the following month.  And (c) repeating their suggestion that I agree a fixed DD at a figure higher than any of their previous variable bills. 

 

That's where have been for a while.  The complaint is with the Ombudsman Service, awaiting their response.  

 

However later on yesterday I had a call from them which I didn't record (sorry), however they have confirmed by email.  What they're now saying is that I should hold off paying the May and June bills and review the situation once they have the end of June meter reading and have generated the July bill.  I'm OK with that if the July estimate is sensible, but I did point out to the guy that if July's estimate is another stupid one we will be no further forward.  That point is also vaguely confirmed in their email.

 

So it still hinges on their willingness to base their advanced billing on a sensible estimate.  

 

 

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Contract runs until mid September with a £25 penalty for early exit.  I seem to remember somewhere that they're not allowed to penalise for transferring within the last 30 days or the contract.  Or something like that. Can anyone confirm?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looks like we might have reached a resolution here.  The July bill has just come in and it's based on a reasonable estimate for their advance billing.  Well not too unreasonable.  It's higher than our actual in June, but then again it's well below EAC/12.  So on that basis I've offered to settle this bill and the two that unpaid months, bringing the account up to date.  It's just a matter of agreeing manual payment vs direct debit or what.

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so allow July's to go through then cancel the DD and pay your leaving bill by another method. It is not about agreement, I wuldnt stay with a company that behaved like that once, let alone every month. Leave and fairly soon you wont regret it as thy are going to go bust like most of the small outfits but sooner.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks. 

 

As it happened they simply didn't take the July payment even though they said they were going to.   

However the August bill and estimate was perfectly fine, I've decided to give them the benefit of the doubt in the meantime. 

 

They are still the cheapest supplier that I've found so I don't see the point in switching just because they've annoyed me in the past.  However once the current tariff ends I'm going to make sure I'm on an open ended deal with no cancellation change so I can jump ship immediately f they play up again.

 

By the way them going bust isn't really a problem, I was with Iresa when they went bust and we still got our credit balance repaid.  However I'd be more than happy if one of the more reputable outfits started to be price competitive, like the comment from DX about British Gas's plans.

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  • 2 months later...

I had exactly the same issues.

 

Grossly over estimated bills from January onwards.  Despite what they claim, they are effectively taking an interest free loan from their customer base to keep the company in business.

 

They can dress it up how they like.  It’s irrelevant if they reconcile the bills the following month because they just over bill again thus keeping a rolling interest free loan.

 

it took two months of constant badgering to be finally moved to a fixed DD.   Once that was done I didn’t care how much they over-estimated by.

 

I had raised a query with the ombudsman over the billing fiasco and they readied a complaint should I wish to proceed.

 

I thought everything was sorted until May/June whereby I was allegedly more in debt then I was expecting to the tune of an extra months DD.   On querying it, it transpired that even though I was on a fixed monthly DD, because the bill was generated less than 5 days before the DD was due to be taken they didn’t take the DD.

 

They offered £5 compensation by way of apology but wanted to take two months DD in June.  I told them where to get off.

 

With appalling customer service,  bills that you need a Maths degree to follow, and I do have one and still struggled, inability to follow through on any agreements, constant gross over-estimation, the missed DD was the final straw and I proceeded with complaint to ombudsman.

 

Prior to getting to that stage I had to quote Symbio’s own complaints procedure to them to get any sort of response.

 

Their final offer to me was £25 goodwill and to waive an exit fee. The offer was derisory given the time it had taken to get things sorted and the continuing ineptitude.  Also, the whole thing has dragged on so long (5 months) I was already in the final 49 days of my contract and therefore there were no exit fees to pay and therefore nothing to waive.

 

Anyway, upshot is, ombudsman found in my favour.  Ordered an apology and a goodwill payment. Symbio appealed but were told the decision stood.

 

This week I received the goodwill payment.   I promptly left an honest and truthful review on trustpilot.

 

The next morning I received an email from Symbio with an apology.

 

This was followed an hour later with an email from trustpilot saying Symbio had replied to the review.  On reading the response they have accused me of not following procedure and of cyber bullying.

 

The company is a complete joke.

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They've actually been behaving themselves for me, recently.  I'm re-signed with them on a variable tariff, meaning not tied in and can leave any time if they get up to their old tricks.  However something I noticed was that when accepting the tariff they actually showed in advance how they expected that annual total to be split into the 12 months.

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I could kick myself for staying with them.  After behaving themselves from July to October, they're now back to their old tricks with a November bill over inflated by something like 40%.  

Just checking for the best price with a view to ditching them right now.  It will be around £10/month more expensive, but I guess money isn't everything.

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Given they owed almost £1m and only cleared half of that by the deadline of Oct 31st, unfortunately, I’d have said a return to over estimated bills was inevitable.

 

Despite what they claim, they tap into the customer base for a rolling interest free loan.  I hadn’t realised their obligations to Ofgem and as such the rolling loan now makes sense.

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On 22/06/2020 at 16:13, aesmith said:

Hi,

I'm surprised there isn't already a thread on this outfit.   

The way they work is that they bill for electricity in advance, using their "estimate" for that month's use. 

If you provide a meter reading at the end of the month, then the next bill contains a correction for any over or under charge.   

 

So for example the May bill includes charges for 31 days standing charge, and for an "estimated" number of units for May,

but also includes a calulation for the previous month comparing estimated and actual use, and applying a credit or presumably a debit as appropriate. 

The bills are not easy to read, but essentially you end up paying for what you use.

 

Our problems started in January when they suddenly started to work off really high estimates meaning you're paying in advance for electricity that you won't actually use, and although the over charge is credited next month it's coupled with another stupid estimate for the following month. 

Quote

I have switched back to Octopus this morning as Symbio are robbers. They ask for photographic evidence of your meter reading every month,but when you look at your bill,it usually says “E” for estimate! My ‘estimate’ this month was over 50% more than the energy I actually used. Been complainingvto them for months so today I walked.

DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY!!!!!!!
 

To put that in context their estimate for December turned out to be only 6% higher than our actual use. 

Their estimate for January was 52% high than their estimate for December, and 88% higher than our actual use.

 

I've gone through a series of months in which I've challenged their estimates, each time the meter readings have shown that I was right and they were wrong. 

in April I dug my heels in and raised a formal complaint, stated that I would not pay any bill based on a stupid estimate and suggested either a fixed monthly sum (I named a figure), or to pay in arrears each month based on actual use. 

Their initial response was to ask for a fixed monthly payment, naming a figure higher than any of their previous variable bills. 

 

I was wondering if anyone else has been going through anything like this process, and if so then have they managed to reach any sort of resolution?

 

Thanks, Tony S

 

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This company is bonkers.  In response to the stupid November bill I raised a complaint.  As usual I had an ill judged initial reply.  However after I responded to that, they came back offering a fixed Direct Debit - but they've set the DD figure not just lower than their over inflated November bill, but actually lower than I think the real bill should be.  Essentially this has just kicked the can down the road for a bit, but if I decide to jump ship then hopefully it will mean we're not in dispute at the time of the change over, and not owed too much money either.

 

Problem is, they're still the cheapest and the companies that come close look just as amateurish.

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When I finally managed to get them to put me on a fixed DD I directed them to my original EAC and the (fixed) DD I thought I originally signed up to.    They relented and agreed albeit rounded up to the next pound.   I didn't care at that point I just wanted to be on a fixed DD.

 

As part of the complaints process they were quoting all sorts of figures to justify their actions.   I pulled these apart and pointed out that they were untruthful.

 

For example, the January debacle whereby they overestimated by 89%.   My EAC was approx 310kWh per month.   They estimated I would use 585kWh.  I complained and based on mid January readings I told them I'd use 360(ish) and certainly no more than 400.     They re-issued the bill with a revised estimate of 390(ish) and refunded a proportion of the over-payment they had taken.   In fact I used 350(ish).

 

When putting forward their "evidence" the figures and bills they submitted completely glossed over the one showing the 89% over-estimate.  Instead they sent the revised one claiming a much lower over-estimate.

 

They further claimed to have told the regulator about the billing problems and that the customers had been notified and the problem sorted.    Another complete lie.   What they had told the regulator about was the billing issue in Oct/Nov (2019) where they had used Summer rates instead of Winter.   That was a completely separate billing issue to the over-estimates from January - June.

 

I can't make up my mind as to whether they are actively trying to confuse and abuse the customer base or if they are just plain incompetent and have confused themselves.

 

I'd also question the viability of the company now and whether they are still actively trading.  Since mid-October the TrustPilot reviews have rocketed from approx 450 to 500.   The vast majority being 1 start reviews.   Previous 1 star reviews, mine included, generally received a response claiming not following procedure and cyber-bullying.  None of the new reviews have had a response.   Similarly, facebook comments are generally removed if negative.  There has been no new Symbio posts since mid-end October and the replies to their last post are still in place and have not been removed.

 

End of August I switched to Octopus.   I've had no problems whatsoever.   Nice sign up bonus payment.  Reminders to submit readings.  As soon as the reading is submitted my account is updated with no confusing bills.   Just a case of, your last reading is A, your current is B, you've used C and we've deducted D from your account balance.   Simple - as it should be.  There is just no justification for the totally confusing bills that Symbio issue.

 

 

Edited by snudz
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