Energy supplier Outfox the Market’s customers will see their direct debit payments increase by 40% during the winter period in order to balance out payments over the year.
Starting next month, Outfox the Market will be charging its direct debit customer accounts an average of 40% more in the winter months and 40% lower between April and September. Ultimately, this means an additional £33 every month this winter.
It has been reported that to Utility Week that the energy supplier is “probably struggling with cash flow. While Outfox the Market denies any financial difficulties, it did explain in a statement on Facebook that the new prices are a “true reflection of the cost of energy”.
When you pay for you energy by direct debit, payments tend to be the same every month throughout the year. However, because you use more energy during the winter, and less during the summer, you will usually either be in credit or debit for half of the year. Outfox the Market is changing this system so that 70% of your annual bill is paid during winter months, October to March, and the remaining 30% is paid during the warmer months. Outfox the Market is also “increasing its variable prices by an average 7%”.
Those affected by the rising prices are on the variable Zapp tariff, which is one of the cheapest energy deals currently available for dual-fuel households. The price increases will result in a yearly energy bill of £987 for the average customer.
Ofgem requires energy suppliers to “set fair and reasonable direct debits”, which means you have the power to challenge the direct debit price rise. In anticipation of customer displeasure, Outfox the Market has said “if customers believe their new direct debit amount is too high, they can contact [them], and [they] will use a recent meter reading plus your estimated annual consumption to review it”. However, if you are still unhappy with these price changes, you won’t face any exit fees if you decide to leave your contract early. Keep in mind though, that even with the price increases, the Zapp tariff “is still among the top five cheapest deals based on typical use”.
Keith Bastian, chief executive of Outfox the Market, said: “Outfox the Market has made a real and positive difference to the energy market. We have helped thousands of customers save large amounts on their energy costs by providing some of the cheapest unit prices in the UK.
To continue to do this we need to ensure fairness for all of our customers with our billing system. Introducing a winter uplift means customers payments simply match their consumption. Payments will drop significantly throughout the summer months to reflect lower usage and overall, we remain one of the best priced suppliers in the country.”