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Two more energy firms allowed to return to forcibly fitting prepayment meters

22 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Photo Nicholas.T. Ansell PA Images

E.On and Tru Energy have been given permission to return to forcibly fitting prepayment meters (PPMs) after they were temporarily banned following a scandal around the practice.

Ofgem said the two firms had met its “strict” conditions, which include conducting internal audits to identify PPMs wrongfully installed before the February 2023 moratorium and offering compensation and a return to a non-prepayment payment method to any affected customers.

They follow EDF, Octopus and Scottish Power, who were granted the same permissions in January.

Restart

Once suppliers meet the conditions and restart “involuntary” PPM installations, they must also provide regular monitoring data to Ofgem to identify any concerning practices.

The firms must still make at least 10 attempts to contact a customer before a prepayment meter is installed and carry out a site welfare visit before proceeding.

They are not allowed to forcibly fit a PPM if the household is considered to include “highest risk” customers, including those which require a continuous energy supply for health reasons, have an older occupant aged 75 and over without support, or those with children under two years old.

Customers and consumer groups will be able to check energy suppliers that can install prepayment meters without a household’s permission on the Ofgem website.

Code of practice

A code of practice governing the installation of prepayment meters, which all energy companies signed up to last April, was put in place after an investigation by The Times revealed evidence of bad behaviour by suppliers severely affecting struggling customers.

An Ofgem spokesman said: “Protecting consumers is our number one priority. We’ve made clear that suppliers must exhaust all other options before considering forced installation of a prepayment meter, and consumers can help themselves by reaching out to their supplier as soon as possible if they think they won’t be able to pay their bill, so payment options can be discussed.

“Our rules on when, and how, a prepayment meter can be installed are clear and we won’t hesitate to take action if suppliers act irresponsibly.

“We will continue to work closely with consumer groups and suppliers to make sure households understand their rights when it comes to prepayment meters and will regularly review our rules to make sure they are working to protect the most vulnerable.

“We would also strongly encourage consumers to make sure their personal details and circumstances are up to date with their supplier, so they can be taken into consideration if or when payment problems arise.”


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