Services for Prepayment Meter Customers (domestic consumers)
This code provides you with protection if you have or are going to install a prepayment meter for your electricity and/or gas supply.
Your supplier is required to make the process of having a prepayment meter as easy as possible. Therefore, if you are unclear about any aspect of the prepayment meter you can contact your supplier for them to explain any queries you may have.
This can include:
- What a prepayment meter is;
- The tariffs and charges for using a prepayment meter;
- How to use and operate the prepayment meter;
- How and where payments to the account can be made;
- If alternative payment methods are available;
- The policy of refunding credit balances;
- Emergency credit - how much it is and how it works;
- Where to buy credit for your prepayment meter;
- If it is possible to provide operating instructions in a language other than English or another format such as Braille;
- If your prepayment meter is not working properly and you need it fixed; and
- If you are having trouble physically using the prepayment meter or accessing top-up facilities, your supplier can make an alternative arrangement for payment.
If you are unhappy with any aspect of your prepayment meter or the supplier’s service you can make a complaint.
Is a prepayment meter suitable for me?
- Prepayment meters are not suitable for everyone as you need to be able to use the prepayment meter technology and have easy access to a shop that sells prepayment meter top-ups. Your supplier should explain this to you so before installing a prepayment meter so you can decide if a prepayment meter would be suitable for you.
- If you would like a prepayment meter but your supplier has said that they think a prepayment meter may not be suitable for you, you can ask your supplier if they can provide assistance, as sometimes suppliers can provide special adaptors or controls or move your prepayment meter to make it suitable for your needs.
- Electricity prepayment meters are not suitable if there is someone in the household who is on a life support system or who relies on critical care medical equipment. Electricity prepayment meters will not be installed in these households.
If you have a prepayment meter to help manage debt
- If you are in debt, a prepayment meter could help you in paying back your debt. However, a supplier cannot install a prepayment meter without your agreement, unless it is a last resort in recovering your debt to avoid your supply being disconnected.
- Before your supplier installs a prepayment meter in your home for debt reasons, they must clearly explain to you the terms and conditions of the repayment arrangement, the amount that will be taken from each top-up to pay off your debt (which can be no more than 40%) and what you can do if you are having difficulty in maintaining your debt repayments.
- You can ask your supplier for information on your debt at any time. This can include the amount of debt you have, the likely length of time it will take you to repay your debt and how your supplier has calculated how you will pay your debt.
If you are in debt, you have a number of further protections which can be found in the Code of Practice on Payment of Bills.
Considerations for prepayment meter customers:
If you already have or choose to install a prepayment meter you should note:
- If you change supplier your options for buying credit for your meter may change;
- You may have additional charges for using a prepayment meter, your supplier should make you aware of any;
- If you lose your top-up card your supplier may charge you to replace the card;
- In certain circumstances your meter may need to be removed or reset. Your supplier will provide you with information on how this is done, how long it will take and if there are any other conditions. If you have any credit left on your meter before it is reset or removed you can ask your supplier how you obtain a refund for your remaining credit;
- If your supplier changes your tariff (either increases or decreases your unit rate) they must notify you at least 21 days in advance of the rate changing;
- Sometimes prepayment meters will require you to enter a change of rate code when a tariff changes, if you have to do this your supplier will let you know (at least 7 days before the tariff rate changes) and explain the process you have to follow.
For the full Code of Practice on Services for Prepayment Meter Customers click here.