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Great 'Energy pre-payment meter issues' Hunt
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# 21
Saetana
Old 26-01-2011, 7:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staircase2 View Post
PS Re Jamelicious's outrageous experiences I forgot to add that I too had discovered that, with the exception of the local Co-op who have always treated me as a valuable customer, I have had run-ins with several local Pay Point shops. None of whom want to take a debit card without charging me stupid amounts of 'admin fees' (read 50p for one shop regardless of how much money you wish to spend on the card). Several of whom have been at various stages rude and off hand in a way I have not experienced previously when buying other goods in their shops.

This was especially the case when I first moved into the new place and was issued with various codes by Scottish Power which I was to give to the shopkeepers in order to credit the new key - several were downright rude and arrogant - claiming that what Id been told by Scottish Power couldnt be done (it could and indeed it was later by a couple of other shopkeepers)

There seems to be a negative mentality from local shopkeepers towards people who are topping up Prepay keys and cards (but surely they make money from these transactions don't they? I assumed they did)
Shops actually make very little out of prepayment top-ups, its why few of them will take cards for these payments as taking cards for any payment involves the shop paying a fee. Even the Co-op have stopped taking cards for them now so I assume there is a valid economic reason for them not to do this any longer.
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# 22
shirleymarye
Old 26-01-2011, 7:11 PM
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Default Pre pay meter

My Co-op take the debit card for top ups,mind you it is a Co-op debit card!
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# 23
christine666651823
Old 26-01-2011, 7:25 PM
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i am with scottish power. i moved into my house about 2 years ago, and stayed with s/p, as i had no problems with them at my old address. anyhow, they gave me an ammount to pay each month, for my dual fuel. this ammount was less than what i was paying at my old address, but as i am now in a smaller property, i beleived the new ammount to be right. my meters were read as normal, 4 times or so, throughout the year. th
ey never put my payments up, so i assumed the payments they had aggreed were ok, never thinking any more about it. then out of the blue, i get a bill for about £800, as i have, nt been paying enough. i have been forced to put prepayment meters in, and pay this debt at around £40 per week all in. it,s not even mt fault. i am a single parent, on basic wage, and wondered if anyone knows of any help i can get. advice etc.
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# 24
blondemoment99
Old 26-01-2011, 7:31 PM
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Angry

I have asked about havin my meter took out so i can pay monthly direct debit but i have been informed that i must pay to have it removed . They dont tell you when they install them of this , me i think this is like been robbed even further seen as we pay plenty is gas and electric so i am stuck with my pre payment meter as i refuse to give them anymore money than i have to .
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# 25
eadieb
Old 26-01-2011, 8:12 PM
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I am a housing support worker and have spent 15 years helping people settle into their rented (mainly housing association and council) properties. Many problems occur when people are first moving in.
  • common scenario is that a prepayment meter is already in the property and the housing officer hands the new tenant an old meter key left behind by former tenant. new tenant starts using it not realising that there is a massive debt on the meter. new tenant does not realise they need to phone up and get the account changed into their name and a new key issued to them and the meter reset and the debt cleared. sometimes tenants have phoned the energy company and think its all sorted. Through bitter experience I have found certain energy companies will take 5 or 6 phone calls repeatedly requesting something is done, before it actually is. Solution would be more education of housing officers and landlords to clearly explain the process to new tenants.
  • Even when a new tenant has rung to set up a new account the new key doesn't turn up. They ring again - it still doesnt turn up. they are given codes to give to paypoint to reset the meter and that sometimes doesn't work.
  • I advise that any new tenant should find out what meter is in the property they are renting before they move in. Make the phone calls setting up the new account and request a new key a week before you move in.
  • Common problem is that tenants are talked into changing suppliers by doorstep salespeople who quote their cheapest rates but dont actually check what the key meter is going to cost.
  • Sometimes people change supplier but carry on putting credit onto the meter using their old supplier key. None of the credit is registered with the new supplier and they end up with actual debt bills saying they owe money to the new supplier. when this happens they can contact their old supplier and ask that the credit is transferred to the new supplier. You need a new key when you change supplier. I hate doorstep energy salespeople as I have frequently experienced very vulnerable people constantly changing supplier every few months and their accounts end up in a huge mess, compounded by all the other common problems.
  • If you dont owe any debt on a meter then ring round suppliers and find out who will agree to you getting rid of the key meter (if thats what you want). Even if they are not the cheapest, simply change to the cheapest once a standard meter is installed.
  • I am not sure about the rules for private rented properties and HMO rooms on insisting on getting rid of a key meter. For general needs housing association and council housing tenants you dont need permission to change from a pre payment to standard meter.
  • It is really unfair that people with debts being taken on their meter are unable to change supplier. Often they are trapped on high tarrifs with standard daily/weekly charges going on the meter regardless of how much energy is used. I advise many people to consider changing to suppliers without standing charge tarrifs as soon as they are able.
  • I have had instances of people being charged incorrect prices on their key meter per unit.
  • I have also had faulty meters where a person on economy 7 (day rate and night rate) had a meter that was charging the expensive day rate 24 hours.
Some solutions
  • you can usually get energy providers to re-negotiate the amount taken back each week on a meter. for somone on income support £10 per week is not usually acceptable but £3 to £5 might be - regardless of how much is owed.
  • some providers have special assistance funds or charitable grants, for example British Gas energy trust and EDF. They have application forms and you can make a case for a debt to be written off for reasons of poverty and circumstance. We have a great deal of success with this. If you cant do this yourself then visit your local Citizens advice bureau who may be able to help or keep a stock of the forms.
  • We have had refunds for clients mistakenly paying someone elses debt using the wrong key, of £100's. If it happens to you, and you think you can make a case that its not your fault or you could not reasonably have known otherwise, then put in a complaint to the customer services dept.
  • Always, always check any prepayment meter when you move into a property. press the buttons on it to find the reading that tells you if it has a debt on it. There are leaflets available on how to do this.
  • I was under the impression that an energy provider is not allowed to chase payment for a debt if they did not issue a bill for it for a certain period of time because they did not read the meter- is it 12 months? so if you are living somewhere and was not billed for over 12 months they can only back date what you owe for 12 months. I know they can only backdate it for 2 years if it is a faulty meter.
sorry to go on but much of my working life is dealing with this stuff.
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# 26
SwanJon
Old 26-01-2011, 11:03 PM
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Sorry, this is going to be a biggy.
I've worked with these meters for over 5 years and some things keep coming up. Often these misunderstandings can cause more problems. They are so prevelant that many employees also believe them despite proof to the contrary. Understanding your meter helps put you in control.

The Meter screens
The electricity meter uses letters to count the screens – press the blue button to move through them. Not all meters will show all screens, and B only shows if using emergency or out of credit.
A – Credit for electricity
B – Amount needed to get electricity back on
C – current time
D – current date
E – Total amount topped up onto meter since it was last reset.
F – Standing charge + Weekly Bill payment
G – Overall reading
H – Reading for day, tier 1,
I – price for day or tier 1
J – Reading for night or tier 2 (may not show)
K – price for night or tier 2 (may not show)
R – amount available for emergency credit (key needs to be in)
S – Remaining bill to pay (key needs to be in)
T – Weekly Bill payment (key needs to be in)
(There are some older meters with a slightly different configuration, but generally the same idea)

Gas meters
The gas meters all use numbers to count the screens, but the newer ones do it in a different order!
There are also 2 or 3 screens without numbers (depending on the model).
You switch between the screens by pressing the red A button.
Credit on meter -> Owed -> (Meter Index) -> Credit on meter etc
To access the numbered screens start on the credit on meter screen, and the card out. Press and hold the red button until the screen changes. Depending on your model the first screen will either be 00 or 27. If 00 the numbers go up sensibly, but you will need to put the card into get past 24.
You don’t need to know all the screens, but here’s some
00 – your last top up
01 – how much of your last top up went towards the outstanding bill
02 – how much of your last top up went towards paying back emergency credit
03 – how much of your last top up went for gas
09 – price per kWh for Tier 1
10 – price per kWh for Tier 2
26 – Weekly bill payment
27 – Remaining bill to pay

(I had to look some of those up!)

Prepayment Prices
Most suppliers have now matched these to their quarterly billed prices, but you can still get better discounts with Direct Debit or online.
Quote:
Originally Posted by amandaleeds View Post
My energy bills in my new property (direct debit system) are high enough as it is so I do think it is most unfair that you are paying a higher tarriff on a prepayment meter, especially for people on low incomes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cedejah View Post
I also believe that the pre-payment meters are alot more expensive than the bill ones.
Using the Meter to pay back a bill
You can negotiate how much you are paying back each week within reason, and only down to a minimum set by DWP each year.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eadieb View Post
you can usually get energy providers to re-negotiate the amount taken back each week on a meter. for somone on income support £10 per week is not usually acceptable but £3 to £5 might be - regardless of how much is owed.
The gas and electricity meter recover the agreed weekly amount in different ways
The gas meter tries to take the weekly amount from the first top up after Wednesday 2am (doesn’t matter which day this is). If it is unable to take it all from the first top up, it will try for the remainder from a second etc. This means that it could take the weekly payment on a Monday and a Thursday (two different weeks). If you miss a week, the meter remembers and will try to take the missed payment from the credit on the meter at 2am each morning.
Quote:
Originally Posted by shirleymarye View Post
I have a pre payment meter where it only takes what I owe on a Wednesday! I queried this when I first got the meter and was told it will only take arrears on a Wednesday,so if you ignore Wednesday and put the money on the meter any other day it doesn't collect!
The electricity meter recovers 1% of the weekly amount (e.g. 5p if it’s £5) from the credit on the meter every 101 minutes. If you are in emergency credit or out of credit it remembers the missed ones and takes them from your next top up.

Running out of credit
The new model of electricity meter (has KBD on the front) are programmed not to disconnect overnight so long as you have credit on at the start of the night. This is more important if you have night storage heaters. They will charge for any extra electricity used when you next top up
Quote:
Originally Posted by samuellification View Post
They are massively expensive and hugely annoying when you forget and run out of electric in the middle of the night!
The gas meters have a safety feature that isn’t very often explained well. If you run out of credit it turns the gas off at the meter, but you may have left your fire or cooker on. When you top up, or choose emergency credit it will ask you to check that the appliances are off, then ask you to hold in the red A button to get the gas back on. Some newer ones tell you when to let go, so if you are not quick you have to start again. You do not need to phone anyone, nor wait for anyone to arrive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cedejah View Post
Sometime people who haven’t got money allow the meters to run completely out of credit and emergency credit. If this happens the meters shut off and you will have to call british gas to get them to put it back on.
Emergency credit
No supplier charges you extra for using emergency credit, if they did it would need to be in the contract & terms and conditions. The meters stretch out the emergency credit by not recovering debt, standing charges or Tier 1 prices (this is an emergency after all). Once you top up it catches up on these delayed charges.
Quote:
Originally Posted by crabyducky View Post
I also don’t like that when your meter runs out of money (emergency credit included) you have to pay off the emergency and a couple of extra on top.
Moving house
As eadieb says, always let the supplier know as soon as you can when you move in, ideally when you are near the meter and can check information on it. It is possible that the old tenant's key and card will be fine for you to use, but don't assume it is the case. If you don't know who the supplier is, choose one, phone them and they can find out for you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eadieb View Post
I am a housing support worker and have spent 15 years helping people settle into their rented (mainly housing association and council) properties. Many problems occur when people are first moving in.
  • Always, always check any prepayment meter when you move into a property. press the buttons on it to find the reading that tells you if it has a debt on it. There are leaflets available on how to do this.
Using an old suppliers key/card
In the past this may have meant that payments continued to go to the old supplier, but over the last few years changes have been made so that in the vast majority of cases the payments will redirect to the correct supplier. In those cases where they don't it is down to the new supplier not following the correct steps. In any case, the payments have been made and it is up to the suppliers to sort it out between them, not you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eadieb View Post
Sometimes people change supplier but carry on putting credit onto the meter using their old supplier key. None of the credit is registered with the new supplier and they end up with actual debt bills saying they owe money to the new supplier.
Outlets charging to let you top up
Shops agree to join one of the top up networks (PayPoint, PayZone) as it means that customers will choose to visit their shop over another one - and they may buy other things while they are there. Shops get a fee for each transaction on top so they shouldn't be charging you too. (That said, paying by debit card is a separate issue). If you have bad experience with an outlet, let the network or your supplier know. If they are under-trained they can phone the network for help.
Quote:
Originally Posted by staircase2 View Post
There seems to be a negative mentality from local shopkeepers towards people who are topping up Prepay keys and cards (but surely they make money from these transactions don't they? I assumed they did)
Faults
You can get a fault with the meter, the card or the key. Most of the time the meter will display a message. Call your supplier to report it – ideally from near the meter, but if not write down what it says, put the card/key in – does it change? Take it out again – any change? An engineer may be able to get more information out of the meter – sometimes it is a software issue that once fixed doesn’t return, but as below, if it repeats you could try getting the meter swapped, but it doesn’t need swapped if it is the first time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cedejah View Post
Also, with alot of the older meters there was a fault with them. Dont worry, the fault isnt a gas leak or anything like that but you might find that your meter just keeps shutting off and it might say something like "call supplier" or have ----- or ***** on the LCD screen. Thats typically a sign of the fault. If that keeps happening demand that your supplier change the meter as it will only start happening more frequently. I tried to find a picture of the meters with the fault, but i couldnt. Its a known fault and the first time that it happens your meter is supposed to be changed, however british gas dont have the man power and its just easier and quicker to reset the meter instead of changing it.
I am an employee of British Gas, however the views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Centrica, its subsidiaries or affiliated companies.

Last edited by Former MSE Lee; 28-01-2011 at 11:54 AM.
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# 27
taldawn
Old 27-01-2011, 12:31 AM
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Default Too too much

I've lived in my 1 room flat for over a year. When i first moved in i asked to have the meter taken out and was told that this would not be done as i was on a 6 month contract. Now i've been here a year i've got in touch again and was told that i'd have to pay to have it installed and then to have it removed when i left.
The amount of money i put on it is unbelievable! During a really cold spell in november i had heating on in one room. It's meant to be economy 7 and it's a storage heater so i tried not to panic about keeping the heating on in one room - to save elecy i even brought all my bedding into the front room and slept in front of the heater to stay warm. In one week i'd spend £90!!!!!! I couldn't believe it and neither could my suppliers when i rang them. I'm disgusted with the whole thing and since i've been made redundant i don't have the money to heat my flat and spend most of the day under covers to stay warm. I've even got really really ill as i didn't heat the flat due to having no money and had to be taken to my parents house to recooperate. The elecy company can't figure out how i used £70 between 12am-7am over that week, specially as it's the economy 7 time and my trying to contact the letting agency to get someone to come and see if there is something wrong with the wiring in my flat has got me nowhere - they just don't answer the phone HELP!!!!
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# 28
double mummy
Old 27-01-2011, 7:15 PM
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Default big pain in the ......

I had a prepayment meter in my council flat. It was already there when I moved in and was told due to the fact it was a council property then I would not be able to have it removed.

I went into the emergency credit once for about 30mins (enough time for the OH to walk to the shop and back) but when we moved out and informed the company we were told that we had a debt on our account. After many many phone calls they told us that there wasnt a debt and that we owed nothing.

Setting it up with British Gas was a horendous problem 3 days completely on hold not getting through to a single person on the 4th day finally got through to someone who became rather more disinterested when I said I needed to sort out a prepayment meter.

I have often found you are treated as second class when discussing prepayment with all of the companies i have been with (british gas, southern electric and scottish power)

I have found the best way is to go through the menu and go to the new customer line you get straight through and then they redirect you straight away.

For a 3 bed house that i now live in i pay around £15. Which compared to my mother pretty much identical house on bill payments she pays around £9.

It seems the people who are worse off are paying the extra costs and being treated like a second class person.

Sorry for going on a bit

The only people I have to answer to are my beautiful babies aged 7 and 5
Once I stopped worrying about what other people thought I found that I could actually just be happy with me
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# 29
t0rt0ise
Old 27-01-2011, 8:33 PM
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I moved into a house with prepayment meters installed. British Gas sent me a new gas card but forgot to send me a new electricity key. When I called them they told me to use the previous occupant's key which I did. I found out later that the previous occupant had opted to pay a higher fixed tariff and I had therefore been paying more than I should have done. So far my complaint about this has been ignored. Even getting the meter changed to a normal one was fraught with problems as the engineer that came to do it first time, said that because of a shared fuse it wasn't possible. That turned out to be wrong and the meter was eventually changed. I have now left British Gas and will never use them again.
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# 30
t0rt0ise
Old 27-01-2011, 8:37 PM
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By the way for all the people saying that the suppliers made appointments and then didn't turn, you should be getting a £20 compensation payment every time. And if they don't give it to you within 2 weeks of the missed appointment, you should claim another £20. I got £80 from British Gas for two missed appointments to change the meter. I had to ask for the payment and argue my case though.
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# 31
richie53
Old 27-01-2011, 11:14 PM
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Location: pontypridd wales
Posts: 2
Default meters

Hi Mark, My name is Keith and have been reading what you have to say here about ppm and agree with you and lots of other posts about them, anyway I would like to pick you brains a bit with the following:- Who are EBI? Are they nationwide? And lastly how do I get in contact with them ? I am at the moment with British gas for leccy and for gas and would really like a cheaper source. Thank you in advance. Regards. Keith
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintMark View Post
As far as I know, pre-payment meters are usually more expensive, so the best solution I know of is to go with EBI Co, who charge everyone the same regardless of how you pay, whether you pay by direct debit or just monthly bills or pre-payment cards.
They're a lot cheaper than most (if not all) other electricity/gas companies too. They're very good.
(And no, I don't work for them or anything.)
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# 32
asko
Old 28-01-2011, 12:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richie53 View Post
Hi Mark, My name is Keith and have been reading what you have to say here about ppm and agree with you and lots of other posts about them, anyway I would like to pick you brains a bit with the following:- Who are EBI? Are they nationwide? And lastly how do I get in contact with them ? I am at the moment with British gas for leccy and for gas and would really like a cheaper source. Thank you in advance. Regards. Keith

I hope you don't mind me replying

The company are called EBICO and I used to be with them for electricty(prepay) until one day I realised my credit was running out way too fast and checked the meter-they had raised the price of a unit from 9.something p per unit to 14.92p!!
I changed the supplier some time after that,and received the letter from EBICO 2 months later,notifying me about the price change...
Useless...
So from my experience they are not that great for leccy,might be different for gas though,hth
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# 33
claudiac
Old 28-01-2011, 10:44 AM
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Hi, I am on prepayment meters, Scottish Gas and Scottish Power. I no longer have any debt to either, and I have never switched supplier before. I know I can probably save some money by doing so, but I am just so confused about which is the best deal. Is there anyone who could help me do the comparisons for me if I gave my consumption detail? I looked at Ebico this morning, and they quote an exact price for gas per KWh, 3.82p, so I looked at the latest statement from Scottish Gas and it says, 7.402p up to 2680 kWh, and 3.416p thereafter! How do I compare that?
I also phoned Scottish Power to ask for the unit price I am paying for my electricity, as again it is not on my annual statement, first lady I spoke to wouldn't/couldn't tell me and put me through to the sales department, where I had to listen to another lady giving me a sales pitch about how I should switch my gas to them. After she burbled on for 10 minutes I said I only wanted to know my unit price and she gave me - Daily Service Charge 20.51 per day plus Unit price 11.97 pence per hour. I asked her to compare my current electricity price with Ebico, and she said she had never even heard of this company. I politely said she could not help me and got off the line, but I have thought about this and I am going to put in a complaint because she basically just gave me the runaround, and I am no further forward with being able to compare prices. Can anybody advise me what to do next please.
C
Sealed pot Challenge 2011 member No 1241 - Final total £154.21
Sealed Pot Challenge 2012 - No.
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# 34
claudiac
Old 28-01-2011, 10:58 AM
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Me Again,

Just called Scottish Power back and the guy I spoke to came up with 11.97p per kWh. He didn't mention the standing charge, which is 20.51p per day though. Comparing Ebico's 3.82p with Scottish Powers 11.97p, that seems to be a huge difference, or have I missed something? Off to see if I can find out whether Ebico have standing charges now.
C
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# 35
asko
Old 28-01-2011, 1:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by claudiac View Post
Me Again,

Just called Scottish Power back and the guy I spoke to came up with 11.97p per kWh. He didn't mention the standing charge, which is 20.51p per day though. Comparing Ebico's 3.82p with Scottish Powers 11.97p, that seems to be a huge difference, or have I missed something? Off to see if I can find out whether Ebico have standing charges now.
C
Ebico's 3.82p is for gas,no?And 11.97p for electricity?
Hence the big difference?
Ebico don't have standing charges,try their website for prices for your region
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# 36
s7887
Old 28-01-2011, 2:19 PM
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I have had and continue to have a nightmare with npower over my prepayment meter. Due to them "mixing up" my usage with usage from a very similar address I was presented with a huge bill. This was resolved and I moved to a prepayment meter to avoid this problem happening again. I notched up a £199 credit with them and six months later that credit dropped to £99 despite being on a prepayment meter. 12 months later the credit disappeared completely. Numerous calls to npower where they kept saying they were investigating and call back in two weeks yielded no resolution.

I now, despite having a prepayment meter, each quarter am presented with a bill, told to do nothing as I am on prepayment, which increases each time a bill comes in!

I have called npower on a regular basis and keep getting the same response, due to government changes and charges I will probably be getting a rebate, we will investigate please call back in 2 weeks. 2 weeks later, same story. I cannot understand how you can run up a bill (which now stands at over £130) when you pay as you go!

Any advice would be most welcome.
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# 37
shirleymarye
Old 28-01-2011, 3:07 PM
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Posts: 198
Default Pre pay meter

After speaking to British Gas 3 times to get a top up machine to use at home it finally arrived today,it only took 4 months to get it!
I decided to register it this afternoon and I use Firefox which it didn't like and I had to use Explorer which I don't like! After trying about 6 times to register I thought it was now OK to top up but no,the page kept disappearing saying there was a problem and had to close so got fed up with it and tried to shut Explorer and it wont now close for some reason! I will try again later but beginning to think they are a Micky Mouse company dealing with this!
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# 38
mattyb81
Old 30-01-2011, 8:05 PM
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I have read all the negative comments and experiences with prepay meters, and would like to offer an alternative view. We were initially on prepay meters when we moved in, and after 6 years of debt free power and nagging from friends/relatives about how much more we were paying, we opted to change to credit meters. On prepay, we were using about £60 per month on electric and £50 on gas. Switching was free, but our quaterly bills for the first year were far higher. We were now faced with paying more than we had budgeted, or building up a debt. As this was a spring bill, we allowed scope for the winter usage, but the pattern was repeated over the following year. We opted to return to prepay, and having now payed of the outstanding debt, we have just spent January using £50 on the electric and £60 on the gas - a much better amount than we were being billed quarterly.
It seems that paying a regular amount upfront avoids any surprises, and ensuring money is on there means we don't get cut off.
For the record, we are homeowners, and are gainfully employed with an income in excess of 2k p/m, have 5 kids and live in a 3 bed terrace. Overall, prepay has been a greater beenfit to us, and we had to convince BG that we wanted to change back! Both transfers went without hassle or charge, with engineers arriving on time and working courteously and without mess or fuss, and fielding the many questions of an inquisitive toddler with good humour.
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# 39
shirleymarye
Old 30-01-2011, 8:20 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Lancashire-at the moment!
Posts: 198
Default Pre pay meter

I managed to sort it out today and got my card charged up at home.
Don't know if it was BGas or if it was Microsoft but it suddenly righted itself after hours of trying to get into it! Hooray!!!!
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# 40
Joyful
Old 30-01-2011, 11:20 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Edinburgh
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If anyone has the Home top up with BG and is having problems there is a dedicated team on an 0800 number to talk you through to resolve the error. This number is on the letter you receive with the Home top up.
I am an employee of British Gas.The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Centrica, its subsidiaries or affiliated companies.
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