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  • bluecharge
    • #2
    • 26th Jan 11, 9:16 AM
    2nd class citizen
    • #2
    • 26th Jan 11, 9:16 AM
    There are so many things that you miss out on if you have pre-payment meters.
    Recent "promotions" include the free Nectar Points (BG customers exc those on pre-payment meters) and also these new fangled energy monitors.
    Over 12 months ago BG had said that they would send me one of those extension lead things to try and cut my emissions. I never received one and every time I called, they were OOS
    I telephoned them this morning to ask if I could have one of the energy monitors instead and was told by a lady that they would not work for pre-payment customers and basically, if I was that bothered - check my pre-payment meter!?
    I have logged an official complaint and was advised that I should receive a managers' callback within 4 hours.
    I guess its' now a case of watch this space.......
  • beziboo
    • #3
    • 26th Jan 11, 9:42 AM
    • #3
    • 26th Jan 11, 9:42 AM
    Prepayment meters are great if you are on a fixed budget and you find you don't waste energy the same
  • leesara
    • #4
    • 26th Jan 11, 11:04 AM
    more cons than pros
    • #4
    • 26th Jan 11, 11:04 AM
    i do agree that it could help with people on a budget as you never get a big bill and also that it helps you be more concious about what you are using but i have two small children and have been without power on a few occasions over the 2 years.

    when i firset moved in the previous person had a debt of £50. i dont understand how this came about as i thought that was the point of the machine but anyway i was told i had to put the money on and when they could verify it was not my debt they would send me a card with the money on!!!

    other times, once when my card stopped working and twice when my credit has run out when my children were very ill i have been left without power and they wont accept payment over the phone and got me to go to the shop numerous times before they would send someone out when my card stopped working.

    i wish that i could change to a normal monthly bill but it costs a fortune to change!
  • shirleymarye
    • #5
    • 26th Jan 11, 11:18 AM
    Pre pay meters
    • #5
    • 26th Jan 11, 11:18 AM
    I applied for a top up machine so I could top up at home instead of going to the shops. I asked for one last September,it didn't arrive by November so asked again and it was apparently sent out to me (the first one I ordered was also sent out) But I never received either of them so they say they are sending me a third one this week! I hope it turns up because when the weather was bad I could have done with it and don't want to be in the same situation again.
  • quirky_penguin
    • #6
    • 26th Jan 11, 11:42 AM
    Don't work as they should
    • #6
    • 26th Jan 11, 11:42 AM
    When I moved into my flat, the British Gas pre-pay meter key was showing money on it. I wanted to change over to a credit meter on a better tariff with nPower, but they told me that I would need to be a customer with them for over a year before they would install a credit meter.

    Eventually I had to stick with British Gas who were prepared to install a credit meter free of charge. However, the money starting running out on the key, and after topping up by £15 it was still on 98p. They are only meant to be able to go £5 into the emergency, but somehow the last occupier of my flat had left it £11 in debt!

    I called British Gas twice on the Sunday night to explain I'd put £15 on, and that they were installing a credit meter on the Wednesday but I was going to run out of electricity. The first person I spoke to said "wow, you've got problems" and had NO IDEA what was going on. The second person I spoke to told me that 1) I had somehow "sent the money" back to British Gas through the meter and 2) if an engineer came out to see what the problem was and there was any money at all left on the key, I would be charged a £98 call out fee .

    I waited until the following morning when the electricity finally ran out, then called again and spoke to someone useful again, who explained I was still (somehow) in the emergency credit and I would have to put another £2 on! Once the new credit meter was installed they would refund me with the total amount of money I'd added to the meter.

    It worked this time, but what a massive hassle! I understand prepay meters are good for private landlords who don't want to be left with huge bills from previous tenants who might not pay, but why do companies allow the key to go into so much debt?
  • elliep
    • #7
    • 26th Jan 11, 11:59 AM
    • #7
    • 26th Jan 11, 11:59 AM
    When I moved into my home I found the prepay meter was in debt by £200 which it was deducting at the rate of £2 at midnight every night. Fortunately I called BG the day I moved in to tell them the house and meter were now mine. At that point I didn't know about the debt but after a couple of days I noticed and called to ask about it. They explained that the previous homeowners had the prepayment meter forcibly installed after refusal to pay bills, The metre was set up to recover the debt whilst allowing the family to maintain power in the home.

    Fortunately I didn't have too much trouble with all of this because I had called them on the day I moved in, they were able to track which payments I had put on the machine and refunded me all of the debt recovery money since my first payment (the day I moved in). They also checked my credit file and then came to fit a normal metre at no cost to me when I asked them to.

    The situation would have been a lot more complicated and I may not have got all my money back if I hadn't called them on the day I moved in. So my big tip would be to call the energy supplier as soon as you can to tell them you are the new occupier and that you wish to take over responsibility for the metre. They then have the ability to zero everything, you don't get the previous tennant's credit but you also don't get their debt. Most of the suppliers will send you out a new key/card to help them seperate your account from the previous one, so ask them what you should do in the meantime if you need to top up and have not yet got the new key or card.
    Cross Stitch UFO club member 18.
  • crabyducky
    • #8
    • 26th Jan 11, 12:01 PM
    • #8
    • 26th Jan 11, 12:01 PM
    I hate the cost of the cards. 8.00 if you lose one its a rip off.

    I will say that when ever i have moved into a new place with debt on the meter british gas have always been the best. The last time was a few months back and there was over 20.00 debt on the gas and almost the same on the electric, they gave me a number to take down the local shop to pick up a card for free with the debt amount on, an said i would just have to pay the 8.00 for a new card. When i got there i followed the instructions put on the 8.00 plus an extra 7.00 an when i got home there was 15.00 on the card. Not just 7.00 (minus 8.00 for the new card.

    I do agree theat the customer services are usually less than helpful when you are on a meter and if you are unable to get to a pay point and have bo moneuly on your meter then you are stumped. I also dont pike that when your meter runs out of money ( emergecny credit included) you have to pay off the emergency and a couple of extra on top.
  • filmstar
    • #9
    • 26th Jan 11, 12:56 PM
    Prepay meters
    • #9
    • 26th Jan 11, 12:56 PM
    We have a prepayment meter in our rented house. Although we've lived there 6 years and would pass credit checks for a normal meter, the landlord would rather us keep the card meters.

    My confusion came when I changed the meters from Scottish Power to Southern Electric. I got new cards from the new provider and used the credit on the old cards and posted them back to them as asked. The a few weeks later got a bill from Scottish Power saying we owed £26. I called and said had to be a mistake, we are on a prepay meter that we always keep in credit so how could this be right? I couldn't get an answer of how this debt could have come about, one call operator even suggested it was because we topped up by £50 a time and the system was not designed for that - LUDICROUS!!!

    I was even at one point told that it was only £26 so I shouild just pay it as it wasn't very much!

    Needless to say, I held my ground and it eventually got wavered. The meters may work for some, but for me they are a MASSIVE pain. Maybe i'll ask the landlord again if we can switch?
    • SaintMark
    • By SaintMark 26th Jan 11, 1:45 PM
    • 25 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    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.)
  • Hovering Lingersquiff
    I have been landed with a pre-payment meter which is not in use. Just before Christmas I discovered that I am being charged a weekly fee for it to sit there and do absolutely nothing. Outrageous! It will no doubt cost me a fortune to have the thing removed and they probably wonít remove it if I donít pay the ridiculous outstanding fee for it having sat there unused for over a year. I am not amused.
  • shirleymarye
    Pre pay meter
    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! How stupid is that? I spoke to British Gas ( a young girl in India,sounded about 12 years old) and I said on that score if I ignore Wednesdays the debt will never be paid off and she burst out laughing and said yes! It's a damn nuisance because I constantly have to watch the meter,I charge the card up on Monday and have to wait till Wednesday to put it on,if I don't then I have to put at least another £10 on the Wednesday to make sure it collects the £6 that I pay every week. I haven't been able to fathom it out and have given up trying now as I am waiting for my own charger to do it at home! You couldn't make this up could you?
  • samuellification
    Get your pre-payment meter changed!!
    Both houses I have moved in to, both my rented house previously and my own house now, began with pre-payment meters. They are massively expensive and hugely annoying when you forget and run out of electric in the middle of the night!
    The only advice I have is to keep on at your energy provider for a free change to a normal meter. When I got to my new house, Southern Electric tried to charge me for normal gas and electric meters, but as I had been a customer for a while and paid all my direct debits correctly, after a few phone calls they gave in.
    So stick at it if you are a loyal and regular customer, it should be free!!
    Last edited by Former MSE Lee; 28-01-2011 at 11:52 AM.
  • cedejah
    Up until about a year ago I used to work for a company that British Gas and a few other companies has sub-contracted all their meter work out to.

    If there is a debt on the meter 9 times out of 10 it is because the previous tenants have run up huge bills and the meters have been forcibly installed. Sometime people who havent 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. As there is no credit or emergency credit the engineer will have to put either £5 or £10 on the meter (BTW the engineer doesnt choose the amount the meter does!). Some people allow the meter to run out again and call british gas to put some more on there and they keep doing that and putting debt on the meter in the process. Regarding the £98 call out charge i've not once heard about that!

    I also believe that the pre-payment meters are alot more expensive than the bill ones. I personally think that they only reason for having a pre-payment meters should be because your supplier will not allow you to have bill one. The pre-payment meters are not saving money (if anything they are costing you more). What they do is simply force you to be more aware of what your spending.

    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.
    Last edited by Former MSE Lee; 28-01-2011 at 11:53 AM.
  • jaimelicious
    I had a nightmare with this in December 09/Jan 10.

    Moved into a Council flat, of course it's all on prepayment and there's no card for either the gas or the electricity.

    'Because of their excellent customer service' (cough, splutter, choke) the Council'd handed all the contracts for energy suplly to Southern Electric.

    I was without electricity for about four weeks, and without gas - and therefore without heating, while there was six inches of snow outside - for about six weeks.

    Completely unable to get in touch with them for the first week - spent a total of about 23 hours on hold. Then got through, got told to get an emergency card from a shop because they were 'too busy' to sort out new cards for me.

    Spent a week walking to Paypoint shops in the snow asking for new cards, only to be told at every one they didn't have any. Finally, at one about ten miles from my house, someone explained to me that the company had stopped issuing cards, including emergency cards, as all the meters were going over to keys.

    Note, *going*, as in, some meters still require cards and cannot be topped up with a key, yet they'd stopped issuing them.

    Took me half an hour on hold and a further twenty minutes shouting at an idiot for them to admit they'd spent a week insisting I walk miles in the snow in pusuit of something that was not actually possible to obtain.

    Said they'd change them for credit meters - they promised to do the electricity one the next day, and said if I 'refused' to sit in an unheated, unlighted flat from 8am til 6pm I obviously didn't want the meter changing. No-one turned up, I called, and they said they'd book it as an emergency job, and someone would be there before 11pm.

    Nope. I spent fifteen hours in a totally unheated, unlit flat and they didn't show up.

    After about two hours on the phone next day, I eventually threatened to rip the meter off the wall so they'd *have* to come and fix it, and after telling me they would 'have me' arrested, someone turned up late that evening - I'd already refused to spend any more time in the flat and was at a friend's round the corner, had given them my mobile and told them I'd need five minutes notice.

    Guy rings up and mumbles something, I said 'Pardon?' and he screamed 'It's Southern Electric for the meters! F****** idiot' down the phone and hung up. When I got there, he pushed me out of the way, swore under his breath pretty much continuously, and then fitted a prepayment meter with a key - when all the shops were shut - instead of the agreed-upon credit meter. (And he thought *I* was an idiot...) Pointed it out, he swore at me again, barged past me out of the house and disappeared.

    Southern Electric's response was that it couldn't have happened because none of their staff would do that.

    I did eventually get an insipid and insincere apology - along the lines of 'we don't believe this happened, but if it had we'd be very sorry'.

    Gas meter... which would let the heating work... cancelled four times in a row due to 'emergencies'. What, other than a gas leak, is more urgent than someone who has been without heating for weeks in minus temperatures? (According to Southern Electric's call centre, the answer is variously b****, c***, and smartarse).

    Eventually lost my rag, phoned up and demanded it be done that day or a) I'd kick the hell out of the meter and they'd better bring a new one when they came to fix the gas leak and b) I'd take them to court.

    Answer was that 'other people have been without heating' and that selfish little me would just have to wait - job eventually agreed for next day.

    When they didn't turn up the next day, I called, only to be told it'd been my fault for missing the appointment yesterday (which I hadn't known about because I'd been told it was completely impossible to do the job that day!).

    Eventually managed to get a 'goodwill gesture' that just about covered what I'd spent on the phone, and get credit meters installed.

    Oddly, once I had a credit meter and a direct debit they were falling all over themselves to apologise and keep me as a customer - my reply was that if I was ever that desperate for heat and light, I'd set my own hair on fire first.

    So, yeah. Pre-payment meter == lying, worthless scum in the eyes of an energy company, as far as I can see.

    Quite apart from charging higher rates to someone who is already (if they've been forced to have a prepayment meter) struggling to pay, which is bloody idiocy in and of itself, likely to be counterproductive and is simply gouging those unable to stand up to the companies.

    So yeah - will never have one again, they can try and 'force' me if they like, but these days I know I can refuse on the grounds that my physical disabilities mean I can't usually get to the shop to top it up. (Answer last time was 'get someone else to do it').

    Price is an acknowledged disadvantage, but there's also the fact that the companies treat you like a supplicant instead of a customer, and really couldn't care less if you're without power.
    • amandaleeds
    • By amandaleeds 26th Jan 11, 3:38 PM
    • 140 Posts
    • 2,201 Thanks
    Prepayment Issues
    I had a shockingly bad landlord in my previous rental property and wasn't aware of the gas prepayment meter until I'd moved in. Not having seen one before I had to ask how it worked and then questioned whether it cost any more and was told by him that it was the cheapest way to pay my bills.

    When I realised it was costing me a fortune (£80 a month on my own although that may have been because the central heating was faulty!) I called up Scottish Power to ask them to put me onto a normal billing system but was told that I'd need my landlord's permission and would have to pay an upfront fee in case I defaulted payment. I can't remember what the fee was but I wasn't able to pay it and knew that from past experience with the landlord that he wouldn't pay since he wouldn't fix the heating so I was stuck with it.

    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.
  • staircase2
    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.)
    Originally posted by SaintMark
    When I moved into my new council flat the existing meter was a prepayment meter which I tried to change over (as I had at my previous place 8 years before with no hassle). I was told by Scottish Power that they would charge me over £100 to change both gas and electricity meters over. Scottish Power was also charging me a standing charge of around 14p each for both gas and electricity meters which in the case of my electricity usage accounted for around a 1/3 of the daily cost! (for the privilege I assume of me paying them money upfront!)

    A month or so afterwards I decided enough was enough and moved to Ebico who has assured me that they would probably be able to change the meters over for me for free after watching the account as prepay for a few months.

    Ebico are great in that they don't charge a standing charge on either gas or electricity and as SaintMark says they charge ALL customers the same rates regardless of how you pay (so Prepay customers are treated the same as monthly or quarterly or cash payment customers)

    When I changed over I too had problems with sudden debts being placed on the account despite having paid by prepay since first moving in (there was originally some outstanding amounts on the gas and electricity which I had declared and used up when I first moved in - I assume the electricity key had been left by the builders working for the landlords). Eventually someone at Scottish Power was kind enough to wipe the 'debts' off my account after closing it down.

    Having had problems with the electricity meter failing to accept topups from the key Ebico sent someone out to sort it out. In the process I discovered from one of the call centre people that Ebico now charge for replacement of meters too (which I was a bit !!!!ed off about). Ironically it was however free to replace the existing Prepay meter for another Prepay meter!

    The biggest problem with Prepay meters is the way they rob you of your weekly cashflow. Of course the flip side to this is that you dont ever end up with a large bill looming 4 times a year. I have certainly become more energy/budget aware since having to use them and in that sense they are good. Ive also become used to having them now after 3 months of living here.
  • staircase2
    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)
  • shirleymarye
    Pre pay meter
    I have been charged 50p in a small corner shop when I used my debit card to pay,wasn't sure if they should actually be doing this,they said they get charged admin fees,not sure if that's right. Of course the answer is to pay cash every time for the meter. I now know where they don't charge for a debit card payment,co-op is one of them. I only have till September to pay off what I owe and then I will change companies even if to another pre pay meter!
  • Airmike23
    Would be better if the power co's did not charge a standing charge, at this time only ebico and sse do not charge any sort of daily standing charge, all the other power companies have standing charges, one way or another
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