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Do you guys see this, this morning??

Energy firms 'profit from the poor'

Energy firms make some of their biggest profits from their poorest customers, the UK's main consumer watchdog claims.

Consumer Focus (CF) said it estimated power suppliers were making more than half a billion pounds a year in extra charges from people on pre-payment meters. Typical customers using the devices were often those on the lowest incomes, it added.

Jonathan Stearn, CF's campaigner on disadvantage, said energy firms were using customers who pay for their gas or electricity through pre-payment meters to help subsidise cheaper deals for others.

He told the BBC: "Companies could be making up to £550 million a year from extra charges they charge on pre-payment meters.

"The energy companies are making the most money out of those on pre-payment meters and often those are the people on the very lowest incomes."

Energy awareness group National Energy Action (NEA) said pre-payment metered customers paid on average £359 more a year than those with normal meters.

This contrasts with the extra annual cost of between £85 and £100 to maintain the pre-payment boxes - a sum estimated by energy industry regulator Ofgem, the charity added.

An NEA spokeswoman told the BBC that 1,000 people a day are being put on pre-payment meters, with many forced to do so after falling into debt.

She added: "Once you are in debt you are effectively blocked from switching to cheaper deals."

Ofgem has estimated that pre-payment meter customers are missing out on savings worth £250 million.


i hates 'em...


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 17th, 2008 09:50 am (UTC)
I watched the Watchdog programme in which they discussed this and it wasn't that shocking to me. As someone that also has a prepay meter installed for my electricity, I know that we are charged more for the 'pleasure'. I 'top up' my key with £60 a week!
I have asked why it costs so much and they fob me off with the 'we'll get someone to come and take a reading and see if there is a mistake', but they never come. I have had someone come once and yet I am still spending that amount.In summer it is a little cheaper as we don't need to use the heating but that isn't what eats up the money.It's the hot water ,which we need.
For some reason, beyond my understanding,as well as the boiler , we need to have the emersion heater on to get hot water in this house. All my other houses didn't have this set up. The hot water came from the boiler/central heating system.
To know that we ,the people that prepay for our electricity are basically subsidising the energy companies and lining their pockets ,appauls me.It is also how they can afford to offer the 'brand new customers only' their amazingly low rates when they switch companies,we pick up the tab!
I have never known any of mine get updated or serviced either. So we as prepayers are low maintenance, cost less in admin and yet we pay more...
It sucks!
Nov. 17th, 2008 12:27 pm (UTC)
It really does suck that so little attention is paid to those who need it - and this key system only benefits THEM.
If i can go on to the phone line payment system i will, but i have to find out if this is possible. They charge for it initally OF COURSE! About £24 from what i remember [bastards] and then you install the equipment and can pay by debit/credit card.
i mentioned this to one of the City Council Energy officers a while back and he said i should still be able to use it, inspite of whatever i have plugged into my phone line already. He also said he would personally come out and check it. i advised how long i would be unavailable and that period is now long over. i had been trying to get something arranged for the pre-payment before i was due for the op and off my feet but wasn't able to get them off their butts fast enough!
i will be contacting him again this week if he still hasn't made any more effort to come out.
Nov. 17th, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC)
Personally I would love to stick two fingers up at these companies and get some solar panels and the batteries ...

Why don't more of the big property building companies use them? For around £10,000 they could equip your house with the panels etc and there would be no need for you to have a supplier.In fact the companies would be paying you for the power that you supply to them (i read somewhere that this does happen). Who would complain about an extra ten grand on the price of a new house when it is on the mortgage and spread over 25 years?I know I wouldn't! Not if it meant I had free electricity and it's helping the enviroment too!
Wind turbines would be good too ,although they would be unsightly, but still ....

If it happened .. the government would probably tax you on it in the end .Nothings free for long in this great country of ours is it?
Nov. 17th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
It's about time economy was practiced not just preached... If we were able to do what we want financially, there would be no problems. i think your idea of installing some good measures when the house/houses are originally build is an excellent one - there are so many ways to make houses warmer and more cost efficient nowadays, it wouldn't be difficult but the bottom line is always MONEY. Bang 'em out faster cheaper...
And hey, tax them that can afford it, mate!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )