Self isolate due to conviris

Hi I been wounded if I could able to get up top 3 weeks emergency credit on gas and electric,

Hi @chantellerowe26 ,

We can send you a preloaded key and card which you can pay to add credit to and we’ll post out. We can also add discretionary credit to these keys and cards. If you chat to one of us here we will be able to get this sorted for you.

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I paid online for a preloaded electricity key and preloaded gas card on 23rd March.
I have only just received Electricity key today (31st March).
However, the information with the key is exactly the same as if you had just joined Bulb.

It says insert the key to register the card and then go to shop to topup the card.
When I received my original key from Bulb (when I Joined) it said exactly the same thing but it turned off my electricity as if it had been turned off at the mains and I had no electricity until I topped up the card.

Now I am afraid that if I use this preloaded key the same thing might happen.
Only now I will be unable to top up at the shop. I Need to use public transport and I am in the very vulnerable group.

My question:
Will this prepaid top up key turn off my electricity?
And if not, why does it send information as if I had just joined Bulb?

I have asked the same question at the emergency@bulb email address but am yet to receive an answer.


Hi @mickyd3d :wave:,

A new key or card shouldn’t turn off anything at the mains, this shouldn’t have happened when you used your original key and card either.

If you have used up current credit on the meter you should be fine to use to the new key and card and the meters will pick up the preloaded credit straight away and keep you on supply.

I said “as if” it had been turned off at the mains.
My original electricity key (when I joined Bulb) most certainly did turn off all my electric when I inserted it. And did not come on again until I had topped up and inserted topped up key.

I notice you say “should be fine” which leaves open the option that I may not be…

The information I received with the prepaid key is EXACTLY the same as I got with my first key (when I joined).
Very misleading and if ever we needed clear and unambiguous information, It is now.

Perhaps, as you work for Bulb you could advise them to send out clear information with the prepaid keys and cards?
People who are isolating do not want the additional stress that this misleading information causes.

If my prepaid key and card work properly I will be ordering more online during isolation so hopefully the next ones will come with updated clear information?

Watch this space.


I have raised this internally as I agree the wording should be clearer as these keys and cards are different to change of supplier keys and cards. It is partly a case of learning along the way so it’s really useful to hear your feedback.

If there are problems with the key and card and you are left without gas or electricity you can call our emergency line on 0300 30 30 635.

Thanks for that.

And what can the emergency line offer that the emergency email can’t?
I ordered my preloaded key and card from them.

Perhaps you can answer a question that has been bothering me?
Can they arrange to have credit put on my meter remotely should for whatever reason the electricity/gas goes off? Either running out of credit or in the above mentioned situation


It can often be easier to discuss these issues over the phone and if you are without gas or electricity we would like to find a solution as quickly as possible.

I’m afraid we can’t arrange to put credit on your meter remotely, we aren’t able to accommodate smart prepay meters yet which is where you can top up on an app. It’s something we hope to do soon. :crossed_fingers:

Without wishing to labour the point.
It seems that the only option there would be then is to send a preloaded card/key.
When I ordered mine I asked for them to be sent first class but they were sent in the usual (slow) way.
See my original post. Ordered on the 23rd received on 31st.

Do you agree that this is unacceptable if you are expected to be without energy for that length of time?
And they don’t even send first class.

Would be nice for someone from Bulb to admit a failing when it is patently obvious to most people?

Here’s hoping.


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This is a learning curve for us to adapt to as well, there has been some delay in posting out the preloaded keys and cards due to the high demand which I apologise for.

A preloaded key or card should be a last resort if you are unable to top up or ask someone to top up on your behalf. There are lots of volunteer groups who you can contact through who are happy to help people in these situations.

We understand this is a challenging time for our members and are doing all we can to help.

Maybe a delay but that doesn’t stop you sending them first class does it?

You are not doing all you can because to repeat, you could send them out first class!

That would at least show you were taking the issue seriously.

The link you sent (covidmutualaid) was sent by Bulb’s emergency email address and I have already explained to them how it is of no use to me and many other people.

Seems to me you are repeating the same old political script.

And I don’t apologise for labouring this point.
When vulnerable people are having trouble getting their energy when they are told by the government to stay at home. Bulb can’t even change their mode of operation to send cards/keys first class and when they do receive them they get very misleading information with them. Seems to me that Bulb are not trying very hard.

Step up and instead of sending unhelpful links from other organisations (passing the buck) do something positive for your ‘members’.


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Amongst the various things this epidemic is proving, is that prepayment meters need to die.

If it’s not acceptable to cut off a property on credit meters due to non-payment, why is it considered acceptable to allow prepayment customers to be cut off? Especially when those customers with prepayment meters are usually more vulnerable in one way or another.

Smart prepayment meters with an app aren’t the answer. Getting rid of the damn things completely is the answer.


Well said, sir.
This crisis has shown up many defects in our society, and PP meters is one of them.


Before this pandemic I would have disagreed with getting rid of prepayment meters, although now, as sadly, this may not be the last one, I’m coming round to agreeing.
I have had prepayment meters for years for no other reason than they were here when I moved in and have been quite happy with them.
I just topped up when I did my shopping.

I am not trying to pick on Bulb but I am a Bulb customer and can only speak of my experience with them.
I would not be surprised if the other energy companies were as bad/good, depending on your point of view.
The ‘emergency’ telephone number and email address offer the same help for prepayment customers.
Having ‘emergency’ in the title may sound good but again is misleading.
Emergency means immediate assistance needed.
You wouldn’t expect to phone the fire brigade in an emergency and expect them to respond by saying we’ll be along in about a week.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions.
Let us not forget that many people working in the NHS and other essential services are prepayment customers and they especially can do without this added stress.

I don’t think I am asking for much when I say send out these preloaded keys by first class post and with the correct information.

I would ask anybody reading this topic whether they think these preloaded keys should be sent out by first class post.
Please reply with a simple yes or no?


I’m sure you’re already aware of this, but just for those that aren’t - prepayment meters cost you more. Both for the energy used and the daily standing charges. Even if I didn’t consider it to be a hassle to top up, I wouldn’t be happy with the costs being higher. I’d get prepayment meters removed as soon as I could. As ever, the poor pay more.

People misusing words and not being specific is a constant source of frustration in my life.

As you said above, things like “you should be fine to use to the new key” are useless phases because it leaves open the option that it may not be fine. What sort of customer support is that? You need to know the actual answer.

And as for emergency contact numbers that don’t actually offer an emergency service. Well that can go in the bin too, along with unlimited (it’s limited) and all the other useless marketing phrases.

Yes. Of course.


Affirmative. Definitely.

Apologies for verbosity, but posts apparently have to be at least 20 characters.

Hi @Hooloovoo Our emergency phone service is helping out members in emergency situations, whether that’s with booking emergency metering exchanges, or getting members credit in the quickest way possible. We’re advising members who are self isolating to find someone who can top up for them if possible as this is preferable & quicker than a preloaded key/card. You can see more on our advice here.

Regarding @Chloe_at_Bulb 's choice of language, it was the first feedback we’d heard of the default instructions, and also keys can occasionally error when adding credit to the meter, so there is always a slight possibility, especially as the preloaded key / card process is a new one for us as well.

I must be thick but I fail to see how sending preloaded keys/cards second class post is helping customers in the quickest way possible. Surely a much faster and more effective way wopuld be for BULB to remove their digit and update their system to offer online top-ups

I would agree with that but with a couple of caveats, such as student accomodation, people that rent bedsits or similar, if you changed these to credit meters you have the possiblity of a somebody not paying and leaving a large bill for the next tennant,unless you made it encumbant on the landlord to include the leccy/gas in the rent or ask for a very large refundable deposit to cover this eventuality

I don’t see why. That’s the reason you take your opening meter readings on the day you move in, with photos, so that you don’t pay for anything prior to those meter readings. Anything that happens before that is not your problem. In fact I’d argue it the other way around, anecdotally from reading on here there often seems to be problems with people complaining about debts left on prepayment meters from past tenants.