Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)

Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
Prepayment Meters
(“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Page 1
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Introduction
This charter tells you what you need
to know about using a prepayment
meter to pay for your electricity or gas.
Section
Contents
1
What You Can Expect From Us
2
2
What You Can Do to Help
3
3
Things You Need to Know About Prepayment (“Pay As You Go”)
4
4
3.1 What is Prepayment?
4
3.2 What are the Pros and Cons of Prepayment?
5
3.3 How do I get a Prepayment Meter?
6
3.4 What Happens During Installation
7
Operating Your Prepayment Meter
8
4.1 Where to Buy Credit
5
6
9
4.2 How to Credit Your Meter
10
Special Circumstances
11
5.1 Paying off Debt Through Prepayment Meters
11
5.2 Emergency Credit Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
12
5.3 What to Do if Your Supply Has Stopped
12
5.4 Moving House
13
5.5 Self Disconnection
14
5.6 Payment Difficulties
15
Leaving the Prepayment System
6.1 Refunds
7
Page
Faults and Emergencies
16
17
18
7.1 Lost Keys and Cards
18
7.2 Faults & Emergencies
19
8
Some Sources of Independent Advice
20
9
What to Do If We Get It Wrong
21
Page 2
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 1
What You Can Expect From Us
1.What You Can Expect From Us
As a prepayment customer, you can expect us to:
• P
rovide impartial information on the advantages and disadvantages
of prepayment.
• Give you help or advice if your prepayment meter or payment device is faulty.
• P
rovide you with information on procedures, conditions and timescales for
removing or resetting your prepayment meter.
• Take steps to reset your prepayment meter within a reasonable period of time
after a price change, or a change to the instalments you pay. Some meters
can be re-set remotely, but to adjust others we need to visit your home. You
should let us have access to your meter when we visit. If you do not, you may
be paying more than you need to or incurring a debt, which you will later have
to repay.
• Fit a prepayment meter, if you ask us, provided we can put the meter in a safe
and suitable place.
• Provide you with a list of outlets where you can buy credit for your
prepayment meter if you ask us.
Prepayment can also be useful if you have been finding it difficult to pay
your energy bills. If this applies to you, here are some other things we can do:
• If you owe us money, we may offer to collect payments towards the debt
through a prepayment meter at a rate agreed between us and you.
• If you owe us money and agree to have a prepayment meter installed, we will
not disconnect your energy supply.
• If you have a poor payment history with us, we will provide you with an energy
supply, provided you use a prepayment meter.
• W
e will give you emergency credit on your prepayment meter that you can
use in genuine emergencies and pay back later.
• W
e will give you free advice on how to use energy more efficiently to try and
reduce your energy bills.
Page 3
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 2
What You Can Do to Help
2.What You Can Do to Help
As a Prepayment customer, you can help us keep your account in order by:
• B
uying credit for your prepayment meter at selected Post Offices and PayPoint
outlets, which include a range of shops and some petrol stations.
• L ooking after the key or card for your prepayment meter and only using your
personal key or card to buy credit.
• Contacting us right away if your key or card is lost, stolen or damaged.
• M
aking sure your prepayment meter stays in credit and repaying any
emergency credit you use.
• P
utting enough credit into your prepayment meter to cover the cost of your
energy, the service charge, plus any debt repayments you agree with us.
• L etting our meter readers or agents into your home at all reasonable times to
check, read, recalibrate or maintain your prepayment meter.
• Ensuring your prepayment meter is not damaged or tampered with in any way.
• C
alling us right away if you suspect your meter or other equipment has been
damaged or tampered with.
• Calling us as soon as possible if you think your meter has developed a fault.
• Telling us if you are planning to move home.
Page 4
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 3
Things You Need to Know About Prepayment (“Pay As You Go”)
3Things You Need to Know About
Prepayment (“Pay As You Go”)
3.1What is Prepayment?
Prepayment lets you pay for your electricity
or gas as you go instead of paying monthly
or quarterly bills.
You get a key or card that is unique to you and your meter, which
you top up with credit at selected Post Offices and PayPoint outlets,
including a range of shops and service stations.
Many customers find prepayment makes it easier to budget for
their energy needs alongside other household bills.
When you credit your meter, you pay for:
• Your electricity or gas; and
• A
small daily service charge for the provision of your meter –
this is equivalent to the standing charge paid by quarterly cash
and direct debit customers and is also known as the “daily
charge” and the “fixed charge”.
• A
prepayment meter can also be set to collect money you
owe from previous bills, at a rate agreed between you and
ScottishPower.
Page 5
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 3
Things You Need to Know About Prepayment (“Pay As You Go”)
3.2What are the Pros and Cons
of Prepayment?
Some of the advantages of prepayment include:
• Using a prepayment meter allows you to “Pay As You Go”. It could help you
budget for your gas or electricity and keep track of how much you’re spending
on energy.
• If you are having difficulty paying for an electricity bill, a prepayment meter can
be set to pay the money you owe at a fixed amount each week.
• If you can’t get an energy supply due to a poor payment record, a prepayment
meter can be installed to provide you with a supply of electricity or gas.
• Y
ou will have an emergency credit facility to use in genuine emergencies when
you can’t get to the shops to buy credit, but remember – if this runs out you have
to pay it back AND top up with normal credit to get the supply back on.
• Y
ou can build up credit on your prepayment meter over the summer to try and
reduce the amount you have to spend in winter.
Page 6
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 3
Things You Need to Know About Prepayment (“Pay As You Go”)
The potential disadvantages of prepayment include:
• You have to be able to visit a retail outlet to buy credit and you must keep your
prepayment meter in credit, or your supply will stop.
• Y
ou can request the removal of a prepayment meter at any time. We may carry
out a credit search when you request a meter exchange. You will need to pay
any outstanding arrears as well as the cost of the meter exchange. In some
circumstances a security deposit may also be required.
• You are likely to need to buy more credit in winter – when it is colder and
darker your energy use is expected to be higher. If you’re on a low income,
spreading payments evenly through the year on an instalment scheme may
be more suitable for you.
• If your meter is not re-set following a price increase or change in your
instalments, debt can build up, which you will have to repay. You must allow
us access to the meter to reset it at all reasonable times.
• If you have sight difficulties or other special needs you might find a
prepayment meter difficult to use.
• Paying by prepayment can be more expensive than other payment methods,
such as Direct Debit. Check with us and we’ll tell you whether you’re on our
best deal possible for your circumstances.
3.3How Do I Get a Prepayment Meter?
If you want to have a prepayment meter fitted, simply contact us on
0845 2700 700 (lines open Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm, Saturday 8.30am
to 1pm) and we’ll arrange to visit you. We need to check if there’s enough
space in your home to fit a prepayment meter safely and in a place that allows
easy access.
It may not be possible to fit a prepayment meter if your existing meter is too
high, in a very confined space, or inside a unit.
If your meter is in an awkward place that makes it difficult for you to read, please
tell us. We will look at your meter and see if it is possible to move it to a more
suitable place. However, unless this is fairly close to the original location, there
may be a charge.
When we fit a prepayment meter, we will make sure there is some ‘start up’
credit – which you pay back later – to give you time to go and buy credit.
Page 7
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 3
Things You Need to Know About Prepayment (“Pay As You Go”)
3.4What Happens During Installation?
We will contact you to arrange a suitable time to install your prepayment meter.
A meter engineer will then visit you at home to carry out the work. He or she will
show their identity card, check your details and examine your existing meter to
decide if it is safe and practical to fit a prepayment meter in the same place.
Installation usually takes about 20 minutes, but this can vary depending on the
position of your existing meter and the type of meter being installed. Before
installing the prepayment meter, the meter engineer will turn off your energy
supply. He or she will ask you to switch off any sensitive electrical equipment
that could be affected by sudden loss of power, such as a personal computer
or satellite decoder.
The meter engineer will fit the prepayment meter following strict safety
and quality regulations and your energy supply will be switched back on.
The engineer will then carry out some tests to make sure the meter is working
properly and show you how to use it.
You may also get a booklet telling you all about your prepayment meter – this
may be given to you by the meter engineer, or posted out to you. Please keep it
in a safe place to look at in future, as it contains the information you will need to
operate your meter and advice on what to do if you encounter a problem.
After the job has been completed, we will send you a letter that gives you details
about the various payments we will be collecting from your prepayment meter
and what they are for.
Page 8
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 4
Operating Your Prepayment Meter
4.Operating Your Prepayment Meter
There are several different kinds of prepayment
meter and the information in this Charter is intended
as a general guide only. For specific information on
your meter, please refer to your operating booklet
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”).
Page 9
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 4
Operating Your Prepayment Meter
4.1Where to Buy Credit
After your prepayment meter has been installed,
you need to go to an authorised outlet to buy
credit to charge your key or payment card and
feed that into your meter.
We always provide a small amount of emergency credit to start you off,
but remember you have to pay this back.
You can buy credit for your prepayment meter at a range of local retail
outlets, including:
• Anywhere you see the yellow and purple PayPoint sign (shops and service
stations).
• Selected Post Offices.
If you are not sure where to go, please contact us on 0845 2700 700 (lines
open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm, Saturday 8.30am to 1pm) and we will
tell you which outlets are nearest your home.
To buy credit:
• Hand your key or card over to the assistant and ask for the amount of
credit you want to buy. Please note there is a minimum charge of £1 for
gas. The minimum amount of electricity credit you can buy is £5.
• A
lways ask for a receipt and if you have a key meter, check that it says:
“Credit Accepted” before leaving the outlet.
• Keep your receipt as proof of purchase. We recommend that you keep
your receipts until after you have received and checked your next
statement from us, in case of any dispute.
Page 10
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 4
Operating Your Prepayment Meter
4.2How to Credit Your Meter
After you have topped up the credit on your key or card, you should transfer this
to your meter as soon as possible.
Simply insert the key or card into the meter and leave it in place until the display
on the meter changes. It should show the amount of credit you are adding to
your account and then the total amount of credit that is in the meter. You can
then remove the key or card and put it in a safe place. You should only use the
key/card provided to you by ScottishPower. If you use anything else, for
example, a card belonging to someone else, the money will not reach your
account and you will build up debt that you will have to repay.
If your meter needs a key or card and you have not received it by the date your
meter is due to be installed, or your supply transferred, please contact us and we
will send you one or direct you to an outlet to collect one.
Reading and Re-setting Your Prepayment Meter
For a key meter, we can re-set it remotely and we will normally only visit you once
every two years to read the meter. We also have to reset some types of key
meter. You must allow access to the meter to reset it at all reasonable times. We
may also change the settings on your meter if the readings show there is an
outstanding debt to clear.
After we have read your meter we will normally send you a statement that shows:
• All the prepayment meter charges.
• The amount you owe (if anything) and how we have worked it out.
• The fixed daily service charge for your meter.
• A contact telephone number for advice and emergencies.
Page 11
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 5
Special Circumstances
5Special Circumstances
5.1Paying Off Debt Through
Prepayment Meters
A prepayment meter can be set to collect a weekly
amount towards any debt you owe as well as the
ongoing costs of the electricity or gas you use and
the daily service charge.
When we set the prepayment meter to collect debt repayments we will
consider how much you can afford to pay and whether you are paying off
other debts.
Sometimes if customers owe us money and have been unable to clear the
debt through other payment plans, we may insist on installing a prepayment
meter to avoid cutting off your energy supply. In this case we will contact you
beforehand to explain that we want to change your meter.
If you are paying off debt through the prepayment system you will need to
make sure you buy enough credit every week to cover the repayment
amount as well as ongoing usage.
If you owe us money but do not want a prepayment meter, you must call us
to discuss alternative options.
Page 12
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 5
Special Circumstances
5.2Emergency Credit Prepayment Meters
(“Pay As You Go”)
While you are responsible for remembering to top up your key or card to ensure
you remain in credit and on supply, we know that emergencies can and do
happen, so we build in a certain amount of emergency credit to your meter to
tide you over until you can top up your key or card.
Your instruction booklet explains how to activate emergency credit and how to
return your prepayment meter to normal use.
Remember, when your meter is in emergency credit mode, you are using
electricity or gas that you have not paid for and you will have to pay it back.
5.3What To Do If Your Supply Has Stopped
If you run out of emergency credit, your electricity
supply will go off. Press the blue button once and
the meter will display the minimum amount of
credit top up you need on your key or card to return
the meter to normal. Please note that the colour of
the main button can vary depending on the type of
meter you have.
Sometimes the key or card needs to be in the meter to activate the displays
and with some meters the amount of credit required is not always the first
screen displayed.
Remember that even when your supply is off, your meter will continue to
collect the service charge and any debt repayments, so you will need to top up
the credit on your key or card by more than the minimum amount shown to
get your account back into credit. For gas meters the amount used while off
supply will be deducted when credit is added to the meter.
Page 13
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 5
Special Circumstances
5.4Moving House
Moving Out
If you plan to move house, please tell us at least two working days
before you move. If you are writing to us, allow 10 working days.
You can call our Homemover team on 0845 2700 700 (lines open Monday
to Friday, 8am to 7pm, Saturday 8.30am to 1pm) with your final meter
readings. In some cases we may be able to visit you to read your meter
on the day you move.
If you don’t tell us you are moving, before you move, you could have to
pay for energy that is used after you move. This could be up to two days
after you tell us, or if you still haven’t told us, up to the date of the next
meter reading, or the date someone else enters into an energy supply
agreement at your old address.
Do not leave your payment card for the next occupant, as these are
personal to your account. However, do leave your prepayment key, if
you have one, as it cannot be used in any other meter.
Moving In
Contact us seven working days before you move in to your new home,
so we can make sure your electricity or gas supply is connected. If you are
writing to us, allow 10 working days. If you haven’t made an arrangement
with us before you move, you must tell us when you start using energy at
your new home. You can contact us on 0845 2700 700 (lines open
Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm, Saturday 8.30am to 1pm).
If your new home has a prepayment meter that you want to use and we
are the supplier, please contact us. If the prepayment meter in your new
property is off supply we will send you a new key or card by first class
post. We can arrange a next day delivery for a fee.
Tell us right away if you receive a bill with the wrong name or address on
it – you are not responsible for paying a bill for energy consumed by a
previous tenant at your address.
Page 14
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 5
Special Circumstances
5.5Self Disconnection
If you don’t buy enough credit to cover the gas and
electricity you use, the service charge and repayments
towards any debt you owe, your supply will be cut off.
This is called ‘self-disconnection’.
Please tell us if you are self-disconnecting as we may be able to help you.
For example:
• We can tell you about alternative payment schemes.
• We may be able to change the amount you are paying every week towards
debt repayment.
• We can give you advice on how you could reduce the amount of energy
you use.
• We can refer you to another organisation who could help with managing debt
and maximising benefits income.
We want to avoid cutting off your electricity or gas supply where possible.
Please tell us if:
• Y
ou or anyone in your household has a long-term illness or severe disability
which means you or they need a constant supply of electricity.
• Anyone in the house is of pensionable age, is chronically sick or has a disability.
• You have special needs or are facing particular financial difficulties.
• If you will be away from home for a long time - on holiday, in hospital or
because of work, for example.
• In these cases we will try to make arrangements that avoid cutting off your
electricity or gas supply. Your supply may be cut off, however, if you can
afford to pay but won’t.
Page 15
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 5
Special Circumstances
5.6Payment Difficulties
If you are having trouble paying for your
electricity or gas, please tell us and we will do
our best to help. You may find our Warmth
Without the Worry booklet useful.
This booklet is available in the Customer Services section of our
website at www.scottishpower.co.uk and we could help you
reduce the amount of energy you use. We can also refer you to
organisations that offer independent money advice. Please see our
Charter on Your Gas and Electricity Billing available on our website at
www.scottishpower.co.uk/customer-charters
Further reference to independent sources of help and advice are
available on our website: www.scottishpower.co.uk/usefulcontacts
Page 16
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 6
Leaving the Prepayment System
6Leaving the Prepayment System
The conditions for removing a prepayment meter
will depend on individual circumstances.
You can request the removal of a prepayment meter at any time. We may
carry out a credit search when you request a meter exchange. However,
we may ask you for a cash deposit from you before we let you change the
way you pay. The amount we ask for will not be unreasonable and will be
refunded in full (plus interest and minus tax) after you have made all
payments on time over a year. For more information, please call us on
0845 2700 700 (lines open Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm, Saturday,
8.30am to 1pm).
You may also be required to pay the costs of the job to remove the
prepayment meter. This cost will not be unreasonable and will only cover
the cost of the visit to change your meter. We will advise you of this cost
before we agree to remove the prepayment meter.
You can also opt out of prepayment if:
• Y
ou want to change to paying through the Fuel Direct scheme and are
accepted for this by the Department for Work and Pensions.
• You have special needs and prepayment is unsuitable for you.
• Y
ou are changing to a different supplier. If you have no outstanding
debt, you should contact them for a new card or key and use your old
one until it arrives. However, if you owe us money, we may object to
you changing supplier until after the debt has been cleared.
Page 17
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 6
Leaving the Prepayment System
6.1Refunds
Before you leave the prepayment system we will
need a final meter reading to balance your account.
We will tell you whether you have anything to pay, or
if we owe you a refund. If you are owed a refund, we
normally use this to reduce your next bill. However,
if you would like the money refunded to you, please
contact us. If you are changing supplier the money
will be refunded to you automatically.
Removing the Prepayment Meter
We will try to change your meter from prepayment to a credit meter within
10 working days of agreeing the change.
Page 18
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 7
Faults and Emergencies
7Faults and Emergencies
7.1 Lost Keys or Cards
If you lose or damage your prepayment key
or card you will need to contact us to arrange
a replacement. To do this, please telephone
us on 0845 2700 700 (lines open Monday to
Friday, 8am to 7pm, Saturday 8.30am to
1pm). We will discuss delivery arrangements
or for you to pick up a card/key at an outlet.
There may be a fee to pay for a new key or card. However, if your
card or key is faulty and you return this to us, we’ll reimburse the fee.
If you are off supply due to a lost card and you have special needs or
are elderly and are unable to visit an outlet or wait for a delivery, tell
us right away and we will try to arrange a visit to get you back on
supply. When we visit we will give you a small amount of emergency
credit, which you pay back through your meter.
Page 19
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 7
Faults and Emergencies
7.2 Faults & Emergencies
If your prepayment meter develops a fault,
please contact us on 0845 2700 700 (lines
open Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm, Saturday
8.30am to 1pm).
If your meter is not operating effectively, and affecting your supply,
we will arrange to visit you within the following timescales:
Electricity
If you call us between 7am and 7pm from Monday to Friday, or
between 9am and 5pm on a Saturday or Sunday, we can normally
visit you within three hours on week days and four hours at
weekends.
Gas
If you call us between 8am and 8pm from Monday to Friday, or
between 9am and 5pm on a Saturday or Sunday, we can normally
visit you within four hours.
However, if you smell gas or think you have a gas leak:
• Call the 24-hour Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.
• Turn off the gas immediately at the emergency control valve by
the meter.
• Open all windows and doors.
• Do not use electrical appliances or naked flames.
If you have special needs, we will arrange to visit you as soon as we can.
You will not have to pay for our visit if your meter is faulty, but we
will charge you if you have simply not bought credit for your meter.
We can arrange to collect this charge through your prepayment meter.
Note: Interfering with metering equipment is a criminal offence and can kill.
If you tamper with your electricity or gas meter you will not be covered by
the conditions explained in this charter.
Page 20
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 8
Some Sources of Independent Advice
8. Some Sources of Independent Advice
Citizens Advice Bureau - Scotland
Telephone: 0808 800 9060
Lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 3pm
Website: www.cas.org.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau – England
Telephone: 0844 411 1444
Lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 3pm
Website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau – Wales
Telephone: 0844 477 2020
Lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 3pm
Website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
National Debtline
Telephone: 0808 808 4000
Lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm, Saturday 9.30am to 1pm
Website: www.nationaldebtline.co.uk
Consumer Credit Counselling Service
Telephone: 0800 138 1111
Lines open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 3pm
Website: www.cccs.co.uk
Page 21
Prepayment Meters (“Pay As You Go”)
A ScottishPower Charter
Section 9
What to Do if We Get it Wrong
9. What to Do if We Get it Wrong
We want to provide you with the best possible service at all times.
However, if we have made a mistake, or you are unhappy with any
aspect of our service, please tell us – we will try to put things right.
You can email, telephone or write to us.
Phone: 0845 2700 700
Minicom: 0800 027 8899
Lines open Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm, Saturday 8.30am to 1pm.
E-mail: [email protected]
Write to us at:
ScottishPower Customer Services,
Cathcart Business Park, Spean Street,
Glasgow, G44 4BE
For further details on our complaints process, please see our Charter
on Handling Your Enquiry or Complaint available on our website at
www.scottishpower.co.uk/customer-charters
If you would like more information
about this charter contact our
Customer Service team on:
0845 2700 700
ScottishPower Customer Services,
Cathcart Business Park, Spean Street,
Glasgow, G44 4BE
www.scottishpower.co.uk
SCP3734 AUGUST 2012
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