Energylinx News

September 2016 Monthly Archive

September 23, 2016

ScottishPower is changing the way we buy energy

scottishpower_launches_powerup.jpg In a response to customer feedback calling for more transparency, simpler billing and greater convenience, ScottishPower are using new technology to put customers in control of their energy spend.

Simplifying the way customers purchase gas and electricity, the energy supplier will be launching 'PowerUp'. Using a model similar to how people fill up their cars at the petrol station, for the first-time ever, consumers will be able to purchase 'days' of gas and electricity, with an app that allows them to keep an eye on their gauge, to manage their usage.

PowerUp allows customers to buy fuel in packages from one day to a month, up to 180 days, upfront at a set price. Customers will track their usage via a new app, allowing them to easily understand their total spend in relation to what they use and how much they pay on a daily basis. There will be no 'standing charges' for customers paying via PowerUp, so if no energy is used on a given day, no charges will be applied.

PowerUp will initially be exclusively available to ScottishPower customers, from early October 2016.

Neil Clitheroe, Global Retail Director said:

"Energy bills can be complicated, with customer research showing that 6 in 10 people don't fully understand how their bill is calculated. Kilowatt hours, therms and calorific values are not terms that are easy to understand. Energy bills have consistently been voted the most confusing bills that consumers receive.

Currently most people either pay a flat amount each month by direct debit or receive a quarterly bill in arrears. Either way there is very little connection between actual energy usage and how much a customer pays. Both of these factors have helped contribute to many customers feeling disengaged from their energy usage and indeed their energy supplier.

But filling up a car at the petrol station is different. When we top up, we don't tend to think about the 40 litres of unleaded in the tank - instead we think about the £50 that it has cost and how long it will last. Yet we all know that if we travel a bit further or faster than usual, that it will last a bit less than usual. Our fuel gauge then keeps us right in terms of when we next need to top up. Customers are far more engaged with efficiently managing their petrol consumption, and we think that will work for gas and electricity at home.

PowerUp is the start of the age of personalised tariffs, and will use real consumption data to calculate a personal daily price. We believe it will encourage customers to be more conscious of their energy usage, because they will want to make their days last longer."

The launch of PowerUp reinforces ScottishPower's commitment to ensuring that existing customers get access to the best tariffs and products. PowerUp packages will include ScottishPower's most competitive prices, and the 'Big Six' supplier will consider when PowerUp will be launched to the wider market.

Posted on September 23, 2016 at 11:25 AM

September 14, 2016

Prepayment Meter Installation Charges Should be Capped

Prepayment Meter UK.jpgWhen a customer falls in to debt with their energy supplier, the supplier can force them on to a pre-payment meter and then charge them up to £900 for the installation.

Energy regulator, OFGEM, has now said that customers who are forced to install prepayment energy meters should be charged a maximum fee of £150. A proposal that has been welcomed by consumer charity, Citizens Advice.

Who does this apply to

As many as 4.5 million people use prepayment meters for electricity, while 3.5 million use them for gas.
Prepayment customers also face higher energy bills. Earlier this year the Competition and Markets Authority recommended that customers on prepayment meters should have their energy prices capped. This will come in to effect in April 2017 and households are expected to save £75 a year as a result.

At the moment, energy suppliers must come to an agreement with a customers that fall into debt. If no arrangement is sorted, then the energy supplier can apply to a magistrate's court for a warrant to install a prepayment meter. If given permission to install the meter then, by law, they can charge for the cost of putting it in. Some suppliers don't charge anything but others can charge as much as £900 when the court costs are included.

The New OFGEM Proposal

OFGEM have suggested that customers who've had a repayment meter forced upon them, should only pay between £100 and £150. The most vulnerable customers, many of whom this applies to, should not pay anything.

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice said of the announcement
"Capping the warrant charges and ending them altogether for vulnerable customers will help to stop people being pushed further into debt when they are already struggling to manage their costs"

Rachel Fletcher, OFGEM's senior partner for consumers and competition comments:

"It's deeply unfair that struggling customers get hit with high warrant costs when they're already grappling with debt, doubly penalising them. Ofgem's role is to protect every consumer, including the most vulnerable. Suppliers need to help customers manage their debts.

Suppliers need to ensure that PPMs are only installed under warrant as an absolute last resort. Where they are needed, our proposals will protect customers by limiting PPM warrant charges for all customers and removing them for the most vulnerable."

You should be aware that if you're in debt with your current supplier then you can still switch energy suppliers, as long as the debt in less than £500. To find out more about your options call one of our advisers on: 01259 220000. You can also arrange a switch online. Energylinx offer a free and impartial comparison and switching service.

Posted on September 14, 2016 at 02:55 PM