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