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Energy customers are warned if they refuse to pay bills, companies will put them on prepayment meters

Energy customers are warned that if they refuse to pay skyrocketing bills, companies will put them on prepayment meters that will gobble up 90% of top-ups to reduce debt rather than heat homes

  • DebtBuffer.com calls on households to ignore any bill boycotts they see
  • Those who do not pay their direct debits may have to use a prepaid meter
  • Prepayment meters leave families with less money for their energy needs
  • Emergency credit users could have all their electric top-ups used to clear debt

Debt experts have warned that households risk being placed on prepayment meters if they stop paying their bills.

Data collected from debt relief website DebtBuffer.com shows that households using prepayment meters are seeing up to 90% of their gas refills continue to pay off their debt rather than heating their homes with electricity. winter months are approaching.

This suggests that prepayment meters left households with “even less money for their energy needs and a spiral of debt that many will find difficult to escape”.

Heather Rose, Head of Debt Relief at DebtBuffer, said: “We urge people to ignore any calls for mass boycotts promoted through social media that you may see.

Customers who use the “emergency credit” face 100% of their electricity refills and 90% of their gas refills used to settle their bills before they can heat their homes

“This will be the quickest way to default on your credit report, followed by legal action with a county court judgment for payment, which means bailiffs at your door and also legal action for forcibly install a prepayment meter.”

The group found that there had been a 43% increase in the number of gas prepaid customers whose meters were set to pay off their debts, while there had been a 30% increase in the number of electricity prepayment.

Customers who use the “emergency credit” face 100% of their electricity refills and 90% of their gas refills used to settle their bills before they can heat their homes.

Ms Rose said: ‘This analysis shows how incredibly harsh prepayment meters can be for customers who end up falling behind on agreed weekly payments for debts or getting further into debt by having to use credit on a regular basis. emergency.

“Automatically deducting 100% of any electricity arrears and up to 90% of any gas arrears before a credit can be used to heat or power households is simply not good enough. In fact, he borders on insensitivity.

“According to Ofgem data, the average repayment term for prepaid customers whose meters are set to collect debt is 247 weeks.

“Ofgem must take firm action to prevent these affected households from being spiraling into permanent debt due to these high recoveries and being completely unable to afford energy.”

Debt experts have warned households risk being placed on prepayment meters if they stop paying their bills

Debt experts have warned households risk being placed on prepayment meters if they stop paying their bills

Bulb’s website shows that it takes 30% of gas refills and 100% of electricity refills from customers with prepayment meters set up to collect debt, while British Gas takes 90% of gas refills and 100 % of electricity recharges from indebted customer prepayment.

EDF, Octopus, Scottish Power, SSE and E.On all take 70% of gas refills and 100% of electricity refills.

Energy UK, which represents energy suppliers, said: ‘Suppliers need to make decisions about how they collect debt from prepaid customers whilst being mindful of the need for them to stay supplied.

“They have a duty to try to prevent customers from continuing to fall into arrears, but must also consider their ability to pay.

“So if customers are having a hard time clearing any existing debt, providers can take that into account when setting repayment plans – and any customer in that situation should get in touch.

“Ultimately, if the debt is not repaid, these costs must be recovered elsewhere.”

‘The industry is very aware that many customers are already struggling to pay their bills and with further increases around the corner it is inevitable that more will fall behind which is why we have asked the Government to increase the support it provides to customers over the coming months.

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Energy customers are warned if they refuse to pay bills, companies will put them on prepayment meters

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