Thursday, 6 March 2008

Meter customers 'forced to pay more for energy'

Customers who use prepayment meters to buy their gas and electricity are being charged up to £328 a year more than those with online tariffs who pay by direct debit, the energy watchdog said today.

Some energy providers, including EDF Energy, have started to charge prepayment customers the same as those on standard tariffs, but all of the big six energy firms offer their lowest rates to those who manage their accounts online and pay by direct debit.

Energywatch said that on average, prepayment energy customers were paying £255 more than those with an online direct debit tariff.

The watchdog said the price difference was "scandalous" and penalised poorer families and pensioners who often have no choice but to pay by meter.

It called on energy firms to end discriminatory pricing.

The biggest differential was between tariffs at British Gas, where prepayment meter customers pay an average of £1,127 while dual fuel customers who operate their accounts online and use direct debit pay just £795.

by Hilary Osborne
full article

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