Criticism of back-charging continues


energywatchLondon, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — March 16, 2007 – Consumer organizations and energy watchdogs continue to criticize some U.K. utilities for back-charging – the practice of charging customers with prepayment meters the difference between the old and the new tariffs at the time the meter is adjusted to take account of the new rate.

npower, Powergen and ScottishPower have been identified as the three major utilities who have continued to back-charge their customers. The problem has been exacerbated by the frequent price rises over the last few years, and consumers can find themselves in debt when the supplier finally sends an engineer to adjust the meter to charge at the correct rate – something that users of prepayment meters have not anticipated.

Together the three utilities have over 700,000 customers on token prepayment meters, all potentially liable to finding themselves hundreds of pounds in debt.

Now consumer organizations are wondering why these three utilities have not followed the practice of EDF Energy, Scottish and Southern Energy and – most recently – British Gas, who only introduce the new tariff at the time they re-set the meters manually.

Adam Scorer, director of campaigns for energywatch, said: “Three energy suppliers are creating instant misery for hundreds of thousands of consumers. People with these ancient token meters think they are paying upfront for their electricity only to find themselves in debt when the meter is recalibrated. npower, Powergen and Scottish Power should simply stop penalizing some of their poorest consumers now.”