Do you have a prepayment meter for your home fuel needs? If so you will be paying around £80 a year more for their energy than direct debit customers while getting a poorer service and facing a greater risk of being cut off.
Prepayment customers have little or no choice of energy tariff and limited means of topping up their metres. When things go wrong with meters or their keys, users experience a poor customer service to put things right.
Lincoln and District Citizens Advice Bureau is collecting evidence for a national campaign, Fair Play for Prepay, to get a better deal for pay-as-you-go energy customers.
Our research so far shows that 1 in 6 people will self-disconnect from their meters because they cannot afford to top up or get to a top-up facility.
Half of prepayment households have children and almost half of advisers who dealt with a meter problem for clients referred them to a food bank.
As the statutory consumer watchdog or energy customers Citizens Advice is campaigning for the following on behalf of all meter users.
A better price
- Pay-as-you-go is the cheapest payment method available.
- Free access to near real time electricity use, account information in pounds and pence, details of standing charges and debt repayments to help customers budget and become more energy efficient.
- An equal amount of pay-as-you-go tariff options compared to other payment methods
- A choice of ways to top up such as by phone, text, or online in addition to cash top-ups over the counter at a convenient location.
- Switching supplier to/from pay-as-you-go is made easier and free of charge – no more security deposits and fees for meter exchanges.
- Free low credit alerts – a text or alarm on the smart energy display to warn when credit is low.
- A ‘lifeline’ supply of electricity or gas at all times, even when a customer has been unable to top up their meter.
- No more misdirected payments.
- No more cards or payment keys that need to be inserted in the meter, which can be lost, stolen or broken at a cost and inconvenience to the customer.
- A free 24hr helpline for mobiles and landlines.