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Energy firms 'profit from poor'

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Energy firms 'profit from poor'

By Sarah Pennells

BBC News

 

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Energy firms are making more money from customers on pre-paid meters.

 

Energy suppliers make some of their biggest profits from their poorest customers, a watchdog has said.

 

Firms make about half a billion pounds a year in extra charges from prepayment meters, Consumer Focus estimates.

 

About 1,000 prepayment meters a day are being installed in households where people have got into debt over their energy bills, it says.

 

Industry body the Energy Retail Association says many people like the meters because they help them budget.

 

But the industry is now under pressure from the regulator, Ofgem, to cut the prepayment tariffs.

 

 

They're being pushed onto prepayment meters

Tony Herbert, Citizens Advice

Consumer Focus says some customers are being forced to use prepayment meters.

 

It said energy firms are using customers who pay by prepayment meter to subsidise customers who can get the cheapest deals.

 

"Companies could be making up to £550m a year from extra charges they charge on prepayment meters," said the watchdog's Jonathan Stearn.

 

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

 

Rules broken

 

Tony Herbert, Social Policy Officer at Citizens Advice, says its offices have seen a small number of cases where companies have pushed customers onto prepayment meters when they have not given them other options to pay any outstanding debt.

 

This is against the companies' own rules, he says.

 

"These people have built up debt but they are not being offered a range of payment methods and they're not being offered affordable repayment rates," he said.

 

"They're being pushed onto prepayment meters."

 

Samira Naji, who lives in North London, had a prepayment meter fitted by E.ON after the firm said she owed over £700.

 

The problem was that she had been paying another supplier - EDF - for her electricity and didn't think she owed a penny.

 

Because of a mix-up, she was paying the wrong company.

 

'Shocked and confused'

 

After weeks of disagreement E.ON got a court warrant to fit a prepayment meter, and - while she was on holiday - removed the locks to gain access to her flat.

 

When Ms Naji returned from holiday, she thought she had been burgled.

 

"I was really, really shocked and confused. I didn't realise they could come into my property, especially if I was away on holiday."

 

When contacted by the BBC EDF, the company Ms Naji had been paying for the last six years, said it would refund the disputed energy bill.

 

E.ON said it would write off the court costs and try to agree terms with Ms Naji to remove the prepayment meter.

 

 

 

Loads of people like to pay more for the same stuff, because it helps them budget better. :angry:

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Wasn't there a report on this a couple of years ago which said the exact same thing? Hardly a shocker.

 

Next thing they'll be telling us that pay as you go mobile users are paying more for their calls.

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Its pretty disgusting, but not surprising. No doubt they will reduce the cost of these and take more of everyone else....

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I had two of these and the fuckers wanted to charge me £100 a metre to change them back to non pre-payment ones. Fuckers.

 

Expensive that, just how big were they?

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I had two of these and the fuckers wanted to charge me £100 a metre to change them back to non pre-payment ones. Fuckers.

 

I can more or less understand that (although it's not like they wouldn't swallow any cost in the first bill), but I can't believe they've got away with the rate differences for so long (and I suspect neither can they).

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I had two of these and the fuckers wanted to charge me £100 a metre to change them back to non pre-payment ones. Fuckers.

 

They changed mine for free. Have you tried threatening to switch?

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MP criticises energy firm charges

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The big six energy providers all raised prices twice this year

 

A senior MP has said he believes energy companies are boosting their cash flow by increasing customers' direct debit payments even when they are in credit.

 

Conservative Peter Luff, chairman of the business and enterprise select committee, is calling on the energy regulator Ofgem to launch an inquiry.

 

Energy suppliers have denied profiting by increasing direct debit payments.

 

The trade body, the Energy Retail Association, said companies were acting in customers' best interests.

 

Millions of people pay their gas and electricity bills by direct debit but two price rises this year alone mean many consumers are unclear how much they should be paying each month to ensure they clear the amount due on their bills.

 

 

There will be people in fuel poverty who are paying by direct debit who can't afford these huge increases

Peter Luff MP

 

Mr Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, believes firms have been raising direct debit payments even when customers' accounts are in credit and warns this practice may be widespread.

 

"There's a real temptation for the companies to boost their cash flow at a time of economic recession," he said.

 

"I think things are getting worse and there will be people in fuel poverty who are paying by direct debit who can't afford these huge increases.

 

"So I think Ofgem need to investigate urgently to see if they think this is correct - that the fuel companies are using this quite a lot. And we need to do something about it."

 

Ofgem said it has not received any evidence of the misuse of the direct debit scheme.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7743272.stm

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"Ofgem said it has not received any evidence of the misuse of the direct debit scheme"

 

In other words a politician who is surprised by how much he's had to pay for his electricity starting a rumour

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The company, Element Four, has developed a machine that it hopes will become the first mainstream household appliance to have been invented since the microwave. Their creation, the WaterMill, uses the electricity of about three light bulbs to condense moisture from the air and purify it into clean drinking water.

 

The machine went on display this weekend in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, hosted by Wired magazine at its annual showcase of the latest gizmos its editors believe could change the world. From the outside, the mill looks like a giant golf ball that has been chopped in half: it is about 3ft in diameter, made of white plastic, and is attached to the wall.

 

It works by drawing air through filters to remove dust and particles, then cooling it to just below the temperature at which dew forms. The condensed water is passed through a self-sterilising chamber that uses microbe-busting UV light to eradicate any possibility of Legionnaires' disease or other infections. Finally, it is filtered and passed through a pipe to the owner's fridge or kitchen tap.

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The company, Element Four, has developed a machine that it hopes will become the first mainstream household appliance to have been invented since the microwave. Their creation, the WaterMill, uses the electricity of about three light bulbs to condense moisture from the air and purify it into clean drinking water.

 

The machine went on display this weekend in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, hosted by Wired magazine at its annual showcase of the latest gizmos its editors believe could change the world. From the outside, the mill looks like a giant golf ball that has been chopped in half: it is about 3ft in diameter, made of white plastic, and is attached to the wall.

 

It works by drawing air through filters to remove dust and particles, then cooling it to just below the temperature at which dew forms. The condensed water is passed through a self-sterilising chamber that uses microbe-busting UV light to eradicate any possibility of Legionnaires' disease or other infections. Finally, it is filtered and passed through a pipe to the owner's fridge or kitchen tap.

 

Have they just invented an electric tree and a bucket?

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The company, Element Four, has developed a machine that it hopes will become the first mainstream household appliance to have been invented since the microwave. Their creation, the WaterMill, uses the electricity of about three light bulbs to condense moisture from the air and purify it into clean drinking water.

 

The machine went on display this weekend in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, hosted by Wired magazine at its annual showcase of the latest gizmos its editors believe could change the world. From the outside, the mill looks like a giant golf ball that has been chopped in half: it is about 3ft in diameter, made of white plastic, and is attached to the wall.

 

It works by drawing air through filters to remove dust and particles, then cooling it to just below the temperature at which dew forms. The condensed water is passed through a self-sterilising chamber that uses microbe-busting UV light to eradicate any possibility of Legionnaires' disease or other infections. Finally, it is filtered and passed through a pipe to the owner's fridge or kitchen tap.

 

They had a very similar machine on Dragons Den. They all rejected it of course.

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Heads up that Ovo are disgrace and should be avoided

 

Disabled brother (with memory loss) moved in in August 2015 and provided a meter reading, which they have on record.  Never got another thing from them for over a year.  Late 2016 they sent him a bill covering 15 months based on estimates, it was full of apologies and acceptance they's screwed up by not sending any bills (but no account credit), so I rang them up and telt them to do one.  Can't charge more than 12 months if they haven't sent bills.  Gave them proper readings and told them to try again with those.

 

March 24 2017, he moved out a month ago and sent them final meter readings. They send him a £1400 bill stretching back to August 2015 ignoring what was previously discussed.

 

I've been meaning to ring and sort it out, but now less than a month later, no second bill, no follow up, they're sending texts threatening debt collectors in 14 days.

 

On hold now.

 

Will they do the right thing, wipe it and get at least a little positive word of mouth, or dig their heels in acting the twats?

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He'll be communicating via the medium of passive-aggressive avatar changes before we know it.

 

Energy companies are a pack of shysters. Corbyn would sort them out. Probably.

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They're ringing me back tomorrow. Tried telling me I should have just ignored the bill... And the threatening texts. They always planned to sort it out.

 

Useless.

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They're ringing me back tomorrow. Tried telling me I should have just ignored the bill... And the threatening texts. They always planned to sort it out.

 

Useless.

For those that have been worrying about this all week. They dropped the bill to £1100 for 12 month.

 

Told them I still wasn't happy paying full whack for that, given they've accepted blame we should get a discount.

 

Ended up paying half that. 2 years energy for £550. They didn't profit from these poor :)

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At least your brother has you fighting his corner. It goes to show how they'd steamroller someone more vulnerable and on their own.

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