Ok this is a little deviation to the world of books and such but I really want to warn other people out there about signing up to this utility company. It was the biggest mistake for me and after several months of trying to get away from them I am now free!!!
Let me go back to October 2018 – I was unhappy with another price hike on my current supplier and decided it was time for a little online comparison through a trusted compare site. Their answer was Outfox the market. At a lower rate to what I was paying and they seemed to have good reviews at the time.
Everything went fine for 2 whole payments……
Until only a few days before Christmas I was informed my £75 direct debit , due on Dec 28th was being upped to £259 for their new seasonal plan. Pay more in the winter and less in summer……
No asking if I agreed to this change, no warning, not what I signed up to and not enough notice to be legal. Companies have to give you a set time period before adjusting your DD.
It was Christmas for goodness sake…no one has money left for that kind of unexpected bill when you are already presented up, food stocked and getting ready for a festive few days.
I immediately got onto Chat with them and after waiting a very long time no one picked up at all, so I gave up and emailed a complaint instead, refusing a plan switch and as an extra measure had my bank cease the direct debit until I had communication with them.
I heard nothing back at all. My bank confirmed the direct debit cancellation and I waited for any sort of reply.
They reinstated the debit (illegally) on their side and tried to take the money anyway which would have put that account in debt and I would have been charged fees by my bank had I not had text alerts on that account. I still had no communication from their complaints so I jumped onto chat again, and this time managed to get an advisor who had zero worth.
Not only did they respond in 1-3 word answers in a very non interested way, but they avoided answering anything I asked, repeatedly, and the only long response they gave was I should continue to pay the DD until I got a new amount and adjustment in January. So pay £259 a month until they decided to put me back on my original plan??
Hell to the NO.
As it turns out people continued having to pay inflated prices for several months, after this. The ones who followed the advice and trusted it would be rectified. Some still are. One woman was charged £450 a month from her £59 DD.
I however refused to and made them clarify they had cancelled my debit in both CHAT and EMAIL and I reclaimed the cash they tried to take via my own bank. I am not dumb when it comes to banking and know how to stop this kind of BS.
I asked them for a usage bill to keep my balance paid, which I would do manually every month until i left them. Which I informed them I was doing. I got off the chat with the useless one and immediately went and switched to a new provider.
This is where the frustration grew. And grew, and grew………..
After asking for a final bill and being told (after 2 weeks) £24 was all I had to pay they stopped my transfer, claiming I had a huge debt.
I cleared the huge amount of £24 within days of having them check, recheck and clarify (they even phoned me to insist I pay this huge debt.) Well after a phone call and 2 emails of them clarifying this was my only debt via bank transfer. I restarted my switch. Secure in the knowledge they had zero reason to stop it.
I was wrong.
Rejection number 2 – for debt older than 28 days, a measly 14 days after I cleared my balance. ????? How? Unless they are penalising people for the usage between bills while trying to make a switch, there was no way in hell I had debt. I cancelled my DD in December….. before that my previous bills were paid. I had already bank transferred what they said I owed for the time my debit was cancelled.
More emails… more silence for a good couple of weeks.
Then I was told I owed them a whopping £450 for unpaid bills older than 28 days. This sudden appearance of a bill minus any details was sent as a screen grab from their advisor. What kind of professional company supplies a screen grab of cropped amounts as a bill to a customer? nothing of my details were visible at all. Enraged by this I queried why no one had raised an issue with my DD being too low or that there was debt from the start. Again I was palmed off.
I supplied my meter readings 3 times in 3 separate emails and asked for a breakdown of the bill based on usage – they (finally) came back with £36, I owed them….. £36!!! This was only another 12 days after the previous encounter and I even had them repeat this is ALL I owed them.
Again I cleared the balance via bank transfer and had them CLARIFY I had zero debt. Which again they did, nothing beyond 28 days.
After many emails and having to ask them same questions over and over again, I decided I would no longer deal with the bills on this property and handed them off to be dealt with by my Roomie. His job now, not mine. My nerves could not take anymore and I was satisfied I was debt free and he could have this headache in the future.
He signed up to another company to take over (no debt , no reason to stall it) and was REJECTED…. again, by OFTM.
They claimed that the address was wrong, there was an error and the person signing up had their details incorrect and they had no right to take the supply.
Starting to get as frustrated as me reading this? Oh god yes. I was demented. Luckily, my lovely OH could now deal. And I contacted OFTM and informed them I was no longer responsible for the bill and they needed to let the new bill payer choose to have their own supplier. I had zero debt beyond 28 days and no legal reason for them to block it. I wanted nothing to do with their company. I told them I would take it to the ombudsmen should they persist.
Luckily my new supplier wasn’t playing ball and within a week of clarifying names, address, meter number etc they have finally pushed the switch and my first bill has now been paid.
Now in the process of going through this I found that I am one of the fortunate ones who refused to pay or be bullied into a corner. I was not alone and there are 2 Facebook groups of customers going through the same exact headaches.
So much so OFGEM has banned OFTM from taking on new customers and they are being investigated. Finally.
There are customers owed hundreds of pounds in over charged bills and they have still not been refunded, yet continue to be debited these inflated prices. Mass over estimation of bills and usage and ignoring meter readings.
Much like me, many of them are reporting the following –
- Reinstated without permission – direct debits
- Increase in bill amount to unbelievable amounts, over estimated usage
- No proper notice of the seasonal plan before changing DD’s
- Ignoring contact
- Rejection to transferring (blocking them from leaving)
- Ignoring meter readings to get actual bills based on use
- Ignoring requests for final bills.
- Continuing to bill ex customers who are no longer supplied by them. (yup still trying that long after people leave)
The last time I used the group there was a staggering 1200 members in one group all making the same complaints. Many had reviewed online on TrustPilot and OFTM was having negative reviews removed as fast as they were going up, and a number of profiles started posting positive reviews in the droves. I am sure mine is even maybe gone although I have not checked.
Ignoring emails and calls, they have claimed they were snowed under and trying to deal with the vast amount of emails due to their unpopular seasonal plan changes – really?
They also claim to be rectifying the direct debits, yet while still persisting customers should keep paying the overly inflated bills. They are still raking in money and not issuing refunds on accounts in mass credit.
I am now away from the company, (yes I am celebrating right now) and it will be interesting to see if they still try to bill me but I no longer have need of the support groups.
I would like to thank the people in those groups for the sound advice and making me stay sane while I was ready to ‘Arnie S’ myself up and go kick down some OFTM doors. ‘I will be back’
Take this as a warning PLEASE- avoid this small supplier if you value your money, sanity, nerves, and save yourself the headache. Or migraines.
It has taken me countless emails, calls, chat, high blood pressure, bank transfers and frayed nerves to break free from the dark hole that is OFTM and I hope I never have to deal with them again.