Jonathan Brearley, CEO of the power regulator, informed MPs that till a code of observe was established and Ofgem was assured that it was being adopted, suppliers wouldn’t resume the installations.
After a Instances investigation revealed debt brokers at Arvato Monetary Options ignored warning indicators that British Fuel prospects have been susceptible and force-fitted meters, Ofgem, which oversees England, Scotland and Wales, reached an settlement with suppliers in February to halt the pressured set up of meters underneath warrant till the tip of March.
The power regulator urged companies to conform immediately reasonably than ready for the conclusion of the investigation they began lately.
That is what you’ll want to know concerning the controversial meters.
What are prepayment power meters?
Prepayment meters are also called pay-as-you-go meters and they’re a standard option to pay power payments.
A meter is first put in within the dwelling after which an individual can high up their credit score at a neighborhood store or on-line, permitting folks to purchase their power in models earlier than they use it.
Prepayment meters are dearer to function than different varieties of meters, with cheaper tariffs not all the time accessible.
What varieties are there and the way do they work?
There are numerous varieties of prepayment meters. These embody key meters, smart-card meters and coin-operated meters. A key meter makes use of an digital key, generally known as a token, which accommodates the shopper’s tariff info.
In the meantime, a smart-card meter has a card that sends your newest info by to the provider when topped up. Coin-operated meters, as soon as commonplace, are uncommon these days. Because the identify suggests, they’re topped up with laborious foreign money, resembling pound cash.
What are the professionals of prepayment meters?
They could be a helpful means of preserving on high of your power use and managing your family finances. Similar to a pay-as-you-go cell phone, it’s a simple means of selecting when and the right way to spend your cash. Prepaying to your power permits you to pay small quantities usually, and it means you’ll by no means overpay.
Like a normal meter, you may nonetheless swap to a less expensive tariff, though there tends to be much less alternative of suppliers and tariffs. Good prepayment meters can be found.
What are the cons?
Prepayment meters could be inconvenient if you’ll want to exit to high up keys and sensible playing cards. When you can’t attain a store to high up, you possibly can run out of credit score and your power shall be switched off. What’s extra, should you lose your card or key, it may be a trouble getting a brief one organized.
It is best to keep away from having a prepayment meter if working out of credit score and having no fuel or electrical energy would trigger you a major problem, based on the patron assist organisation Residents’ Recommendation. For instance, when you have a long-term well being situation, incapacity, medical tools that wouldn’t work with out energy or younger kids.
Prepayment meters are additionally dearer than normal meters, and there are fewer tariff decisions. The very best power offers available on the market aren’t often accessible to prepayment prospects.
Word additionally that prepayment tariffs have a standing cost (often 25p – 30p a day), in the identical means that credit score tariffs do. This cost should be paid no matter whether or not you employ any fuel or electrical energy on any given day, so you’ll want to have credit score in your meter to account for it.
When you owe the price of the standing cost, will probably be deducted subsequent time you high up your meter.
Are prepayment meters dearer than normal meters?
Sure, they’re. There could also be important financial savings available by switching from a prepayment meter and tariff to a credit score meter, the place you pay in arrears by month-to-month direct debit. Nonetheless, most of the cheaper offers have been suspended within the present local weather, as a result of power disaster partially attributable to the conflict in Ukraine.
Is it attainable to change prepayment suppliers?
On the whole, sure. So long as you don’t owe greater than £500 to your fuel and £500 to your electrical energy, you may switch to a distinct provider. Word that your debt shall be transferred to your new provider and you’ll nonetheless must pay it off.
Are you able to swap from a prepayment to a normal meter?
Many suppliers permit prospects to maneuver from a prepayment meter to a normal meter free of charge. Others could cost you to alter the meter, so examine first.
To maneuver off prepay, suppliers usually require you to have paid any excellent debt in your power account, and they’re going to additionally examine your credit score rating. Keep in mind that, if you’re renting, you will have your landlord’s permission earlier than altering the meter.
May a provider drive you to maneuver to prepayment?
If you’re struggling to pay your power invoice and get into debt together with your provider, or if you’re having problem paying an agreed reimbursement plan, your provider could counsel you might have a prepayment meter put in.
When you refuse this, and should you fail to pay again your money owed, a provider can apply to the court docket and set up a prepayment meter underneath a warrant as a final resort.
What in case your prepayment meter is defective?
If the display screen is clean or displaying a message resembling ‘error’, ‘name assist’, or ‘battery’, there’s most likely a fault with the meter, based on Citizen’s Recommendation. Inform your provider straightaway or you possibly can be left with no power.
They need to ship somebody out to restore or change the meter – or repair it remotely – inside three hours on a working day, or 4 hours on a non-working day. If this doesn’t occur, they have to pay you £30 compensation.
How do you are taking a prepayment meter studying?
Meters are available quite a lot of guises, from ones with dials to the newest digital read-outs. Some could require the consumer to insert a prepayment key to get to the specified studying. Suppliers usually embody info on the right way to learn a selected fashion of meter on their web sites. With digital shows, it’s often a case of scrolling by the choices till you come to the studying you’re excited by.
What if the home you’re transferring to has a prepayment meter?
It is best to contact the provider right away. Attempt to keep away from accessing the meter with a key or card or including any cash to it. In any other case, you doubtlessly danger paying additional for the money owed of the individuals who lived on the property earlier than you. The place you’ll want to add cash to the meter, inform the provider. The provider ought to take off any money owed not run up by you, provide you with a brand new prepayment key or card (relying on the kind of meter), and ship you details about how the meter works.
What do you have to do should you lose your prepayment meter key?
Get in contact together with your provider as quickly as attainable so it could possibly ship you a brand new one – although this will take a number of days. The primary substitute will most likely be free however, after that, count on to be charged, £5 for instance. If it’s a top-up card that’s gone lacking, it could be attainable to choose up a brand new one from a PayPoint outlet.
Is there a prepayment meter cap?
Ofgem, the power regulator, units a restrict on the quantity that suppliers can cost sure customers for a unit of power. It does this by way of the default tariff cap and it covers two varieties of customers: those that are on the default (or normal variable) tariff of their provider, and people who use a prepayment meter to pay for his or her power.