Outfox the Market alters direct debits leading to price hikes

22 November 2018   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Changes could lead to customers paying up to 40% more during winter months due to company's new direct debit adjustment strategy.

Customers will pay less between April and September in return for higher payments between October and March.

70% of yearly bills will be paid in the winter payments while the remaining 30% will be spread across the six summer months.

The timing of the change has been criticised, with payments to rise from December rather than being brought in at some point in 2019.

It follows three price hikes within only five months for the energy supplier which have seen prices leap by 20% for some customers.

outfox the market
© Outfox the Market

Customers blindsided by changes

The average household's direct debit in December will be increased by £33 and is likely to impact many who have budgeted carefully for bills around the Christmas period.

Outfox the Market have called this strategy a "winter uplift" which is designed to ensure that customer payments match their recent levels of consumption.

Most existing customers will be moved on to the new direct debit plan in from 13th December and all new customers signing up from now on will be subject to the variable rates.

Variable direct debits are already offered by other small energy suppliers and, while some customers may prefer them, the unexpected alteration by Outfox has left many angry.

This change will impact some customers who have built up credit during the summer expecting reductions in their winter payments, although Outfox points out that customers can contact them to arrange refunds and overall direct debit reductions.

Outfox no longer cheapest variable option

Price increases over 2018 mean that Outfox the Market is no longer one of the cheapest dual fuel suppliers documented in our review of the energy market just two months ago.

At the time, they were the only supplier to offer a variable tariff which amounted to less than £900 per year for a typical household.

Now, following hikes of an average of 6.4% in June, 7.4% in September and a further 7% in December, customers who opted for the cheapest deal are no longer receiving it.

Outfox the Market company entered the UK energy market in 2012 with a commitment to transparent pricing methods and a promise to supply energy generated from 100% renewable sources.

They are partnered with DONG Energy, a Danish company focused on wind farms, and claim that most of their renewable energy is generated in the UK.

However, the company has previously been criticised for its "childlike" website design which doesn't always function as it should. In addition, email communication proved difficult for some customers.

What can disgruntled customers do?

While many customers have punished the Big Six energy companies by switching to smaller suppliers in recent years, there is always the option of switching again and joining the 2.4m households set to do so this year.

Many Outfox the Market customers are on variable tariffs that don't have exit fees attached and so you can switch to another supplier free of charge.

However, some customers are on fixed deals that include a £50 per fuel exit fee. It's worth remembering, though, that if you're within the final 49 days of your fixed term, you can leave without penalty as per Ofgem rules.

You can also contact Outfox the Market directly to assess whether their estimates are based on your recent usage and try to get your annual consumption estimates renewed to help lower your bills.

As might be expected, though, the company is experiencing a high volume of calls and queries, so this may not be a quick fix.

How much could you save on your energy bill?

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