The Ofgem report today showing how easy it is for energy companies to switch their customers on smart meters to pre-payment meters is concerning. Not only are customers not the first to know about the switch, they will most likely be unaware that pre-payment is more expensive.
Actions like these in times when individuals and families are struggling with the highest inflation in decades and energy companies are still making huge profits are absolutely unacceptable.
“People are being switched to pre-payment meters without prior knowledge”
The energy crisis is pushing 10,000 homes a month on to prepayment meters. Pre-payment meters have a higher daily standing charge than standard meters. The unit cost of energy that you buy on your pre-payment card is also higher than you would pay through your smart meter. Making further financial gain from the hardship of others in inexcusable.
The NPC has urged the Regulator of Ofgem to take immediate action to ensure that customers have an opportunity to discuss with their energy company the best way to resolve any debt. To override this option is in breach of the protocol for energy companies.
Where customers do not see pre-payment as an option for them, they must immediately be returned to their smart meter plan.
Jan Shortt, General Secretary of NPC said:
"Customers must be the first to know not the last and must be protected from such unscrupulous energy companies. We urge the Regulator to immediately intervene to ensure this is so."
Download the press release
Additionally, the NPC has written to Ofgem about the smart meter scandal.
Download the letter to Ofgem
Dear Mr. Brearley,
Re: Smart Meters v Pre-Payment Meters
The NPC was shocked to read an article today in regard to those customers with smart meters being unilaterally changed over to pre-payment meters if there is some debt owing to their provider.
We find this completely and absolutely unacceptable in a climate where energy companies are continuing to make huge profits; individuals and families are struggling with the highest rate of inflation for decades; and the customer is clearly the last to know.
As a regulator, we are asking for your immediate intervention in this matter as if customers are not being consulted on the best way to clear any debt, that is against the protocol for energy providers. Those customers migrated to pre-payment meters must be asked if this is the best option for them after being informed that they will be paying over the odds for their energy. If it is not, then they must be immediately switched back to their original smart meter option.
Whilst we have had assurances to the contrary, we believe now that the opportunity for customers to be cut off through their smart meters is again something worthy of further investigation.
We urge you to take immediate action to protect customers from over-zealous energy providers clearly looking for financial gain from the hardship suffered by millions.