A couple of clients have requested me lately about prepayment; how we glance after prepay clients, and if prepayment meters are ever utilized in instances the place a buyer is in critical debt.
Many purchasers choose prepayment meters and realizing precisely what they’re ‘placing on’ the meter at anyone time. We’ve labored onerous to make prepayment an awesome choice for them: we do not cost for putting in a prepayment meter (most suppliers cost as much as £150), and the charges a prepayment buyer pays are not any dearer than the charges clients pay on our commonplace Versatile tariff (uncommon within the vitality trade, the place when you’ve got a prepayment meter you’ll typically pay extra on your vitality).
And in terms of individuals who can’t carry on high of vitality payments, we consider there are normally simpler, higher methods to assist than putting in a prepayment meter.
Greg Jackson, Founder and CEO
Our message to clients struggling to pay has at all times been: so long as you’re speaking to us, we are able to work with you – connecting you to further help and discovering different methods to assist.
If we see a buyer starting to construct up critical debt, lacking common funds and never responding to our regular emails, we’ll begin attempting to succeed in out to speak about how we may also help. We strive onerous – there are sometimes over 20 makes an attempt to contact you earlier than we get to the stage of putting in prepay meters – we’ll get to that later.
There’s lots we are able to do, together with:
- Personalised account assist. Our group is at all times readily available to offer individualised assist to go well with our clients’ wants (issues like returning any constructed up credit score, giving fee holidays, ensuring you might be on the most affordable tariff or providing a wise meter improve so you possibly can keep in management and profit from schemes like Saving Periods).
- Help from our Octo Help fund. Our devoted fund has £15 million earmarked to offer direct invoice help to these struggling to pay. It’s helped 60,000+ folks up to now.
- Join you to current help schemes from the federal government and different organisations. These schemes embrace vitality effectivity measures to assist scale back your payments whereas nonetheless retaining you cosy, and even direct monetary help such because the Heat Residence Low cost and particular authorities help within the vitality disaster.
- Give tailor-made in-home vitality saving recommendation to assist clients make easy changes to save cash on their vitality payments (e.g. decreasing the stream temperature of a gasoline boiler can save the everyday residence round £112 with out feeling any distinction in heat). We’re even sending educated Vitality Helpers round 500,000 houses to offer this recommendation in individual this Winter.
- Free electrical blankets to probably the most susceptible clients, significantly folks with critical medical want, because it’s less expensive to warmth a human than a house – our evaluation reveals a typical residence can save round £300 a 12 months. We’ve despatched out round 40,000 this 12 months already.
We do not set up conventional ‘dumb’ prepayment meters (the place you possibly can solely pay by high up) and in reality are actively attempting to take these out and change them for good prepay meters to offer a greater expertise for our prepay clients.
We do suppose that folks ought to discuss to us in the event that they’re struggling to pay their payments, and that it is not honest if some clients must cowl the price of others who do not pay. However we predict there are a lot better methods of taking care of clients who aren’t paying than becoming a prepayment meter.
Actually, we’ve involuntarily switched fewer than 100 clients to a wise prepayment meter within the historical past of our enterprise. That’s 0.00006% of our whole buyer base. That’s much less total than some suppliers do in a single day. And the place we ever do, we cost them a particular low charge to assist them get on again of their payments.
Earlier than we ever get near taking place the route of involuntary prepayment, we undergo an in depth plan to try to attain the shopper. Over 6 months of calls, emails, texts, letters and even visits in individual. If we uncover at any level that they’ve a medical dependency or different issue meaning a prepay meter shouldn’t be appropriate, all the course of is suspended and we’ll goal to supply different help as a substitute.
Our Director of Laws, Rachel Fletcher, explains extra right here:
We don’t cost good prepayment clients extra
Beneath Ofgem’s worth cap, vitality suppliers are allowed to cost £59 a 12 months extra on prepayment tariffs. We do the other. In these very uncommon eventualities the place we could change a buyer to good prepayment perform, they obtain a particular charge beneath the value cap. At the moment, it’s our least expensive commonplace tariff and these clients get extra care with monitoring of off-supply intervals and welfare checks. We’ve additionally not charged for set up of the prepay meter (whereas most different suppliers cost £150).
Pleasant credit score
Clients on good prepayment with Octopus even have entry to our beneficiant pleasant credit score hours. This can imply ought to your credit score run out you may mechanically roll onto pleasant credit score to maintain you on provide till 10am the subsequent working day. We’re accessible by way of e mail and social media till 10pm day-after-day of the week, and we have emergency help evenings and weekends together with the power to go away a message and ebook a callback with our emergency group.