Introduction to prepayment meters
If you're thinking about joining Good Energy as a prepayment meter customer, then this short guide will introduce you to how we work with prepayment meters and our code of practice.
Here at Good Energy we are dedicated to offering the best possible service to all our customers. We pride ourselves by being able to offer prepayment meters. A prepayment meter is also known as a ‘pay as you go’ option which allows you to pay for your energy as you use it. You can make your payments at a number of outlets, and the meter is topped up with credit when you insert your key or card back into the meter. The purpose of this code is to explain the use of prepayment meters in more detail and act as a helpful guide.
The main advantages of prepayment meters are:
● Budgeting: made easy because you pay for your gas and electricity as you use it, there are no surprise bills and you can see exactly what you are spending
● Debt repayment: you can repay your debt at the same time as paying for your gas or electricity
● Poor credit: where you do not meet our credit check requirements, a prepayment meter can be installed to provide you with a supply of gas or electricity
● Consumption monitoring: you’ll receive a statement showing your usage and the payments you’ve made, plus your current balance, at least quarterly.
Please consider the following when having a prepayment meter installed:
● Meter location: If your meter is in an ‘unsafe or inaccessible’ location, we will endeavour to move the meter to a suitable location. In some circumstances it may not always be possible to install a prepayment meter
● Self-disconnection: If you don’t keep the meter topped up with credit sufficiently, you’ll lose your supply until you put more credit on
● Standing charges: It’s important that you continue to put credit into your meter to pay for standing charges for your electricity, even during the summer where you may be using less energy or away on holiday
● Tariff costs: The prepayment charges will be dependent on the area you live in and in line with our standard tariff costs.
In what circumstances can a prepayment meter be installed?
A prepayment meter can be installed in the following situations:
● Under agreement: When you’ve requested it and we agree that it’s a suitable payment method for you
● Risk prevention: Where you don’t satisfy our credit check requirements, a prepayment meter can be installed to provide you with a supply of gas or electricity
● Payment plan: When you request it to pay an outstanding balance and we agree that it’s the best repayment option
● Debt repayment: Where you’ve defaulted on an agreed payment arrangement to pay off a debt
● Debt repayment (under warrant): If no other suitable payment arrangement for your arrears can be agreed, a prepayment meter can be installed to avoid disconnecting your energy supply.
*Please note that prepayment meters will only be fitted by a qualified engineer and in cases where it’s safe and practicable to do so. We don’t usually charge you to fit a prepayment meter, but will do so in exceptional circumstances. If Good Energy incurs additional costs such as applying for a Rights of Entry warrant when fitting a prepayment meter, then we’ll pass these charges onto you. In cases where a gas prepayment meter is installed, a suitable person will need to be on site for Health & Safety purposes. If we have to install a gas prepayment meter where the site is vacant, a ‘blanking disk’ will remain in the meter to cap the supply of gas and will only be removed by a ‘Gas Safety’ engineer. Costs associated with this will be your own responsibility.
Using a prepayment meter
You can make payments for your energy usage at a variety of outlets, and the meter is then topped up with the credit value when you insert your key or card back into the meter. Your meter stores details of any debt repayment arrangements that may have been set and this information will be available to you through the meter. We can provide further help and advice on how to use your meter if you require it, so please call us on 0800 254 0000 if you have any difficulty or queries.
Topping up your payment key or card
Electricity keys and gas cards are able to be topped-up at any Paypoint, PayZone or Post Office outlet. You should never be far from a charging facility, however if you’d like to know where your nearest facility is, please visit one of the following websites and enter your postcode; www.paypoint.co.uk www.payzone.co.uk www.postoffice.co.uk You must use the key or card that we provide you with to purchase credit and you must only buy credit from approved outlets. You should always decline from buying electricity or gas credit when offered on your door-step. Door to door credit top-ups are not available, and this is fraudulent activity. Any payments for energy that are not via an approved outlet will not show on your account and you’ll be responsible for paying any outstanding balances. All authorised outlets will provide you with receipts as proof of purchase and these should be used to check the payments shown on your statements. We may also request copies of these in the event of a query, so keep them safe.
What to do if your key or card is faulty or lost
You’ll need to call us for a new electricity key or gas card if they are lost or at fault. Please note that electricity keys must be registered (by inserting into your meter) as soon as you receive it. Once this is done, you can then top-up the replacement key with credit at your local outlet. NB. Please only use the key or card which is registered to your meter to ensure the payments you make are received by Good Energy and are applied against your account. For out of hours assistance please call our emergency line 0800 254 0000.
If you think your meter is faulty, in the first instance please call us for advice and assistance. On some occasions, we should be able to help you over the phone. It’s important that you advise us of your situation when you call. If you call us to report a fault with your meter and a Meter Operator is required, we will arrange this visit for you for a time that is appropriate to your circumstance. If you are off supply, we endeavour to have you back on supply as soon as possible. For out of hours assistance please call our emergency line 0800 254 0000.
How debt repayment amounts are calculated
When a prepayment meter is fitted for debt repayment purposes, we take into consideration any information that you provide on your personal circumstances. We’ll take into account whether you’re in receipt of certain benefits and any information that may be provided by a Citizens Advice Bureau or third party group acting on your behalf. When approving an arrangement to repay a debt, we’ll agree weekly repayments to suit your needs. If we’ve been unable to talk to you prior to the installation of a prepayment meter for debt repayment purposes (usually under warrant), we’ll normally arrange for this to be collected through the meter at £5 a week. It’s important that you tell us straight away if this is unaffordable. On these occasions, we’ll provide you with a statement or letter confirming details of when the meter was fitted, the total debt outstanding, the weekly recovery amount and the amount of emergency credit available. You can also obtain information on the meter settings through your meter. If you require assistance with this, please contact us. If your circumstances change and you can no longer afford the agreed debt repayment amount, again please contact us. We can re-assess your circumstances and can change the repayment amount to a more suitable amount.
What happens when your debt is paid off?
Prepayment meters should automatically reset to collect for energy consumption and standing charges only once a debt is repaid. If your meter does not automatically reset (you can check this yourself via the meter), please contact us and we’ll arrange an appointment to do this. If your statement shows a credit balance after you have repaid a debt which you would like refunded, please contact us and we’ll arrange for a cheque to be sent to you.
Requesting a credit meter
Please call us if you would like a credit meter installed. We will only consider changing your meter once we have reviewed or conducted the following:
● Whether you live in a house where the prepayment meter was installed prior to you moving in (we will ask for evidence of your moving-in date)
● An external credit check (this will need to be passed satisfactorily)
● Depending on the result of the credit check, we may consider installing a credit meter if a security deposit is paid
● If we have to put a prepayment meter back in at a later date, we will ask you to cover the cost of this.
If we change our prices, we aim to arrange for the settings on your meter to be changed from the date that the new prices apply from. This can vary according to the type of prepayment meter you have fitted. For electricity and gas meters, this will take effect the next time you top up your meter.
If you have stopped using energy because you can’t afford to purchase more credit for your supply, please ring us immediately and we will review your individual circumstances. For out of hours assistance please call our emergency line 0800 254 0000. For ways to save energy and money, please contact us for energy efficiency advice.
*Please note that we won’t remove a prepayment meter if we had to forcibly install it to collect back money you owed us. If you agreed to have a prepayment meter installed to repay a balance, once this has been repaid, we may consider changing your meter if you pass an external credit check.
Both gas and electricity prepayment meters have an emergency credit facility. We recommend that you use this only as a last resort when you’re unable to purchase more credit to keep your supply going. The emergency credit is usually £5. If you use all of the emergency credit, your supply will then be disconnected and you will need to top-up. To get your supply reconnected, you will need to purchase enough credit to cover the value of the emergency credit used (no more than £5) and any standing charges that have amounted whilst using the emergency credit. You will also have to purchase enough credit to cover your ongoing energy usage. Any debt repayments you agreed to pay will not be collected whilst you’re using emergency credit. For that reason, it’s important that you make up any missed payments to ensure that you don’t fall behind with your repayment agreement. Never get into the habit of relying on the emergency credit. The emergency credit facility is there as a safety to ensure you’re kept on supply.
If you decide to leave Good Energy, and have a debt that is lower than £500, you are able to switch to another provider. The remaining debt will be transferred and collected by your new supplier. If you request to change supplier, it’s important that you continue to use the correct card or key supplied by us until the date your new supplier is due to take over. If you do not do this, the payments you make will not be allocated to your final bill. If you’ve changed your supply to us and are unsure about what card or key you should be using, please contact us immediately and we’ll discuss this with you.
If you move home, you must not use a card or key from your old address or take them with you. Please ensure you contact us with details of your moving out date and final meter reading so that we can calculate your energy usage correctly. If you don’t provide us with a final meter reading, it’s likely we’ll need to use an estimated read to finalise your account. If you move into a property with a prepayment meter please let us know immediately. We will need to send you the appropriate card or key which will enable us to charge and bill you accurately.
If you move home or successfully change supplier, we’ll send you a final bill. On the occasions where you move home and have provided us with a read, this is what we’ll bill you up to. Where a supply is changed from one provider to another, your final bill will be based on the meter read that is agreed with them. We will then ask that you pay any outstanding balance in full. If you find that you are in credit upon receipt of your final bill and you have been billed to an actual meter reading, please contact us to request a refund. If you have been billed based on an agreed supplier reading, we may require further reading information from you before being able to issue a refund.
You may find the following organisations helpful for specialist advice and information:
Citizens Advice Bureau
Telephone: 020 7833 2181
Telephone: 0808 808 4000
Energy Saving Trust
Telephone: 020 7222 0101
Ombudsman Services: Energy
Telephone: 0330 440 1624
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