Should they be allowed to put in pre-payment meters? — Scope | Disability forum
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Should they be allowed to put in pre-payment meters?

Biblioklept Community member Posts: 4,192 Disability Gamechanger
edited November 2022 in Cost of living
I saw an article in the guardian about calls to stop putting in pre-payment meters under court warrant and wondered what people think.

I go back and forth. Like I agree with everything said in that it essentially disconnects the poorest people. But also if someone isn't ever paying their bills or for energy shouldn't there be some way to make them? I don't know.

What does everyone think??



  • bg844
    bg844 Community member Posts: 3,887 Disability Gamechanger
    I personally do, as you have said ‘if someone isn’t paying their bills shouldn’t there be some way to make them’.
    I know times are extremely tough for many at the moment but I do take note of schemes from suppliers to help people who are facing difficult times. I take note of one by my water company United Utilities which has a grant that will pay off any outstanding debt if you can’t afford- to do this though you must liaise with them which I completely agree with.

    British Gas have an advert at the moment which states anyone, with any supplier can phone them and they’ll try and help.
  • Luchia
    Luchia Community member Posts: 235 Pioneering
    I think it’s a bit of a taboo subject.

    On one hand the utility companies have the right to reclaim any debts they are owed but on the other hand it’s going to cause a huge amount of stress for people struggling to pay their bills so it’s quite the double edged sword. 

    Personally I do think that they have the right to install them as they are owed the money and clearly DD clearly isn’t working for the customer.
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community member Posts: 11,305 Disability Gamechanger
    If the DD isn't working for the end user then clearly something has to be done that will help clear the debt.
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  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,462 Disability Gamechanger
    I have to agree with what has already been said. 

    Sad, that people are choosing to self disconnect, and if they have a standing charge in the charges then they are just building up their debt. It also means that when they choose to reconnect any prepayment will be eaten away at as they recover the standing charge. 

    They do have an alternative to putting in ppm, if you have a large debt and unable to come to an agreement to pay it off they can cut off your energy. 

    As putting in a ppm is a form of debt collection they do not have the right to just go in and install it, or just change a smart meter from a credit to a prepayment meter, hence the need for them to go to court. Prior to going to court they would need to show they have followed the pre court protocols, this usually includes providing proof. 

    Moving from paying by credit and prepaying for energy is not an easy one, and does change the way you use energy, especially if you are on a very limited budget. Having had to move to ppm a couple of decades ago, and being more expensive, I would not choose to move to credit payments again. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
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  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Campaigns Posts: 12,488 Disability Gamechanger
    Interesting question @Biblioklept!

    One of my colleagues at Scope is looking to speak to someone who's gone into arrears, and ended up being moved onto a prepayment meter by their energy company.

    If anyone's experienced this, and would like to find out more about the opportunity, please get in touch with me by commenting here, privately messaging me, or emailing me on [email protected] :)

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  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,462 Disability Gamechanger

    Suppliers must offer a range of ways to pay back a debt. One option could be through a prepayment meter.

    They can only fit a prepayment meter for debt:

    • if it is safe, practical and easy for you to use and get to 
    • through a court warrant to cover ongoing energy use and debt repayments. A supplier can force-fit a prepayment meter by warrant only after they have taken all reasonable steps to agree payment with you. It should be a last resort to avoid disconnecting your supply.

    Suppliers can’t force-fit a prepayment meter under warrant for people in very vulnerable situations if they don’t won’t one, or charge them for warrant costs on debts. Nor can they use warrants on people who would find the experience very traumatic.


    As mentioned, before going to court they would need to send in evidence that they have followed the pre court protocols, and taken reasonable steps to ensure that the customer does not fall in one of the categories that would exclude them from having a ppm installed. This includes remotely changing smart meters to ppm.


    "And there are  a whole load of more functions that could be used nefariously  by energy suppliers such as Time of day tariffs"

    Because as we know all companies are evil blah blah blah.

    So for the moment let us ignore the amount of regulations that utility companies are subject to and the fines they can receive for doing things underhanded.

    I am aware that time of day tariffs are currently being discussed, but is this necessarily an evil thing?

    For decades one of the main issues with utility usage has been the huge increase in demand during certain parts of the day. Over all in the past there has been a huge capacity to account for this huge increase, but with the current situation it is not clear if we still have that capacity, and why there is talk of possible black outs. 

    One way is to change consumer behaviour, something which has been notoriously difficult to do, as high consuming activities often followed work or school patterns. The large increase in those working from home, or have hybrid work patterns this is a good time to consider alternatives to encourage people to change their consumption behaviour. One way of doing this is to offer a lower tariff during the periods of day where consumption is generally lower and the system has more capacity. Leaving the peak times with less to do and protecting everyone from forced black outs.

    Certainly one benefit from this would be for those who cannot or do not work, part time workers, and generally those struggling would be lower costs during most of the day. Agreed it would no help those on normal work hours who may not be able to take advantage of such changes.

    Any such changes would need to be approved by OFGEM, who are unlikely to agree to them just hiking up the tariff during busy periods, nor would they be able to make such changes without giving customers notice. Any such proposed changes would also be investigated by experts such as Martin Lewis and other consumer activists.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,462 Disability Gamechanger
    @Tomm You have obviously given it some thought, and that is your right.

    As for your friend, I am sorry they did not get a more favourable result when they lodged a formal complaint with OFGEM.

    "again  they never enforce the rules for the good of the consumer"
    They do on a regular basis, but if you have reliable information to the contrary then fair enough.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • L_Volunteer
    L_Volunteer Community Volunteer Adviser, Scope Member Posts: 7,979 Disability Gamechanger
    This is a really insightful thread! Thanks everyone for continuing to support each other.

    It is people like you who make the community the supportive and friendly space it is. Please don't hesitate to let us know if you wish to talk about anything further  :)
    Community Volunteer Adviser with professional knowledge of education, special educational needs and disabilities and EHCP's. Pronouns: She/her. 

    Please note: if I use the online community outside of its hours of administration, I am doing so in a personal capacity only.
  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,462 Disability Gamechanger

    The energy price cap has changed twice a year since it was introduced in 2019, so your point is?

    OFCOM and OFGEM are regulatory bodies, government is a legislative body. Government, the legislative side, are the one who set the cap and policies, OFGEM are responsible for ensuring companies within their remit comply with the regulations. It would be outside their remit to change what the government has decided, especially if it would significantly increase public borrowing and debt. Similarly it is government policy for the cap to reviewed twice a year, OFGEM has no say in this.

    Personally I find it scary how many people are quick to blame OFGEM, showing both lack and interest in how our political systems really work, but then believe they know who to blame. 

    'and as prices tend to only increase this benefits who?'

    At the moment most people with fuel bills. Without the cap we would be subjected to market prices and paying a lot more. 

    'Why is UK Govt pushing for smart meters ?   what concern is it of theirs ?'

    Seriously? Very little in life has nothing to do with politics. To be honest I have no idea why the government should be concerned about fuel security, people being overcharged because of estimate readings, or up to date information on consumer usage.  It's not like with more reliable information and in depth analysis that they could better aim support at those groups who need it. And no this would not include sharing information that would identify individuals. It would also enable others to do more in depth analysis and push for social change, like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

    It would also mean government can look at introducing mixed tariffs, where fuel can be supplied cheaper during certain hours, something that could not be done without smart meters. A feature I know you are not interested in, but could be a real benefit to many people.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,462 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @tomm

    I have not denied that the government are pushing for more smart meters, what I failed to take seriously was the question, which I answered anyway.

    So your concept of a scam is a review of what smart meters can do, along with mention of when smart meters are not appropriate. I've noticed that you are not one for answering questions, but I will try, why do you think that article is a scam? what information is wrong?

    ' Sorry i was thinking about this  which they will be implementing  just to shaft the consumer more  quickly'

    Again wrong, and will not affect what consumers pay. As you like links here is one for you:

    But for those who are concerned by what you said here is an extract:

    'The regulator has confirmed that its cap will be set at £4,279 for three months from 1 January 2023 for an average household with typical consumption paying by direct debit. The current figure is £3,549.

    But actual bills are limited by the government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG). This puts a ceiling of £2,500 a year on typical consumption bills until 31 March 2023.'

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,462 Disability Gamechanger
    @tomm thank you for confirming what I have suspected, from links you have posted here and in other threads. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Biblioklept
    Biblioklept Community member Posts: 4,192 Disability Gamechanger
    PRetty sure this is a social media forum, what are you thinking off @GLASSBACK??
  • Hannah_Scope
    Hannah_Scope Posts: 7,267 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @GLASSBACK

    We are an online forum, but will pass your comments along to management :) 
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  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 52,344 Disability Gamechanger
    GLASSBACK said:
    @Biblioklept I kind of mean in a more conversational way ? Similar to Facebook etc...? Like a chatroom?

    Scope is a forum or a "chatroom" if that's what you want to call it.  It's similar to facebook where people comment on threads or post threads of their own with questions they have. I don't know what other way you expect a forum to work.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • rebel11
    rebel11 Community member Posts: 1,636 Pioneering
    edited February 2023
    Chatrooms come in different forms.

    Scope is more of a 'Threadroom' where people chat by posting on threads.
    A chatroom is where conversations take place in a continuous live stream. 

    Prepayment meters has benefits, but should cost less then standard rates.

    It's the biggest rip off ever and has been for decades. The 'vulnerable' pay the most.

    In any 'sane' country that wouldn't be the case.   

  • Biblioklept
    Biblioklept Community member Posts: 4,192 Disability Gamechanger
    I see what you mean, it would be nice if it allowed live updates without refreshing pages and a chat room would be pretty interesting @GLASSBACK
  • Biblioklept
    Biblioklept Community member Posts: 4,192 Disability Gamechanger
    tomm said:
     I warned  about the SMART meter  and who it really benefits

    I'm actually really shocked about that!! I didn't realise they could do that and it definitely wasn't said when they advertised or asked to change mine over (my new build property came with smart meters automatically so no choice)
  • rebel11
    rebel11 Community member Posts: 1,636 Pioneering
    edited February 2023
    Energy companies do stupid stuff, the energy market is totally unregulated. I they can rip you off they will, they know the consumer isn't clued up. OFGEM is a 'total sham', isn't up to the job. 

    Energy companies are issued licences, energy companies breach the terms of their licences every single day.
  • katz23
    katz23 Community member Posts: 1,895 Pioneering
    When I moved into my home 17 years ago it had a prepayment metre as the previous owners had run up a £400 bill.

    I contacted the energy company to ask them to remove the pre-payment metre but they said I would have to pay to change it.

    I was quite annoyed with them and chose to stay on pre-payment as I could keep on top of payments and not be suddenly surprised by a large bill.

    I was not really aware that I payed a higher price per KW than if I had payed a quarterly bill by cheque, card or DD.

    I do not think that is at all fair that pre-payment customers have pay a higher rate as they are paying in advance and it is the energy companies that profit from the advance payments sitting in their bank.

    I chose to have a smart metre fitted over a year ago. I think they are brilliant as you can monitor your usage.

    Being on a prepayment also means that you can top up a little extra as a when you have some spare money, in preparation for winter. - BUT there should be a reward for doing so - as in a lower cost per KW for paying in advance.

    If this were the case, I’m sure that more people would be happier to go on prepayment metres instead of being forced to do so.

    I understand that energy companies have to recover any debts but these debts would be less likely to occur if people were offered an incentive to use a pre-payment metre in the first place.

    The government need to look into this.

    Just my opinion.
  • 2oldcodgers
    2oldcodgers Posts: 743 Connected
    All this talk I have read concerning British Gas forcing their way in to fit a smart meter reminds me of the situation back in 1989 when they removed my gas meter after using forceful entry to do so. We were 300+ miles away at the time staying with relatives. Getting back home I found the back door off it's hinges and nailed into the frame. I called the police thinking that someone had broken in. Eventually I discovered the 
    cupboard in the lounge that had previously been the gas and electric cupboard devoid of the meter.
    No letters/no contact from British Gas.
    They refused to put another meter in until the debt (approx. £280) had been settled in full as well wanting a £500 deposit/security + the cost of fitting a new meter.
    They also refused to repair the back door citing that they had a warrant to enter any way they wished to.
    We moved some weeks later still with no gas supply and a damaged door & frame.
    Seems that BG are no different now than they were then.  


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