Medway Citizens Advice

Advice for Medway

Citizens Advice Medway is a registered charity that offers free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to the whole of Medway on a range of issues including Housing, Welfare Benefits, Employment, Debt, Family Law and many others.

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Fair Play for Prepay Campaign

23rd September 2014

Fair Play for Prepay Campaign

Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer watchdog for energy customers. We are running a national campaign, to get a fairer deal for energy customers with a prepayment meter.

What’s the issue?

  • Customers with prepayment meters too often receive poor service and a lack of choice.
  • Prepayment meter customers have fewer tariff options to choose from and generally pay more for their energy than direct debit customers.
  • Customers with prepayment meters face problems credit customers don’t have to deal with, like lost or faulty keys or metering equipment.
  • 16 per cent of prepayment meter users self-disconnect their energy supplier over the winter.
  • Most prepayment meter customers have to pay with cash at shops or post offices. There are few options to top up online or by phone and shops aren’t always in a convenient location or open at a convenient time.
  • Vulnerable prepayment meter users sometimes miss out on financial support. The Warm Homes Discount is sent out by suppliers by cheque.

What do we want?

  • better customer service and support with easier top ups.
  • a fair choice of tariffs in line with other payment methods.
  • a smarter prepay offer that works for consumers.

The consumer demand

Consumers want fair pay-as-you-go gas and electricity. We want energy companies to give us a better price, put us in control of our own energy use and make it easy to pay-as-you-go.

Smart meters are an opportunity to improve the service we currently receive; don’t make those who prepay for their energy the last to benefit.

We call on energy companies to deliver:

1. 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.

2. More control

  • 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.

3. Easier use

  • 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.

Get involved

Join our campaign to demand a better prepay deal by signing our petition and follow #fairprepay for campaign updates.

Medway Citizens Advice

Contact us

Telephone: 01634 383760
Fax: 01634 383767

3rd Floor Kingsley House
37-39 Balmoral Road