We're working on supplying prepay meters

We’ll start supporting prepaid meters from January 2018. We think it’s so unfair that some suppliers are charging the poorest households more for their energy by increasing prices for prepaid customers.

We’ll make our prepay tariff as close to our credit tariff as possible, which means it will be a lot cheaper than other suppliers.

Members who have used prepay and anyone who is currently on prepay with another supplier; what do you like and what do you dislike about the way other suppliers manage prepay?

One of the things that would have made a big difference to me back when I was on prepay is a functioning web portal to check how much credit you have - mobile as well as desktop. I was with BG who have a web portal which presumably works under Netscape on Windows 98, because it certainly doesn’t work on any other platform.

It would have been very useful to be able to check my remaining credit while I was out, so I could top up the key/card on my way home instead of having to make a separate trip - even more so for people who didn’t have a PP shop just round the corner. And it would have saved me getting dressed and going outside in the snow twice a day in midwinter too (after a few instances of everything shutting off unexpectedly when the shops were closed, bonus points if the gas went off while the boiler was running and it just sat there making an alarming grinding noise all night, I got serious anxiety about keeping track of what was on my meters.)

I don’t know if smart prepay meters are going to be a thing, but if so you should be able to top-up online as well. With immediate effect, so the boiler doesn’t just sit there making an alarming grinding noise all night.

(It’s been years since I was on prepay so I may have mixed up details, such as what features that pointless web portal was supposed to have)

I don't know if smart prepay meters are going to be a thing, but if so you should be able to top-up online as well. With immediate effect, so the boiler doesn't just sit there making an alarming grinding noise all night.

Great thoughts @eoibm6g and yes smart prepay all the way! Being able to top up from the MyBulb app without leaving the house seems like the best and simplest way to do prepay.

Smart meters will be a good idea. And top up in the app if possible. I am for the first time in 5 years lived in UK on prepay with one suplier. I have tried today to switch on Bulb but due to the fact that the company do not support prepay meters I will have to switch for another company as my current suplier is overcharging us. Hopefully I will not be tight up in long contracts and I will be able to switch at a point next week when Bulb will support prepay meters.

@Alexandra89, hopefully you can join us soon!

Remember that (at least at the moment) Bulb pay any contract termination fees (up to £120) so I wouldn’t worry too much about going into a contract with a new supplier as a temporary measure.


On a related note, the card on the roadmap for the Prepay Meters is here.

@Alexandra89 do you want to be on our prepayment meter trial, i.e. amongst the first in line to get signed up with us on pre-pay?

@Alexandra89 do you want to be on our prepayment meter trial, i.e. amongst the first in line to get signed up with us on pre-pay?

I know someone who’ is very interested in joining you and has pre-pay, they’d be up for the trial!

@Y_A Cool! Could you get them to send an email to help@bulb.co.uk and then we can add them to the trial?

We'll make our prepay tariff as close to our credit tariff as possible, which means it will be a lot cheaper than other suppliers.
What are the additional costs involved in supplying prepay meters? Is it mostly just down to the higher risk or are there other reasons why prepay tariffs are more expensive than credit tariffs?

Is it likely that both the standing charge and unit cost will be higher? A set monetary amount above the (variable) credit tariff?

We'll make our prepay tariff as close to our credit tariff as possible, which means it will be a lot cheaper than other suppliers.
What are the additional costs involved in supplying prepay meters? Is it mostly just down to the higher risk or are there other reasons why prepay tariffs are more expensive than credit tariffs?

Is it likely that both the standing charge and unit cost will be higher? A set monetary amount above the (variable) credit tariff?

Most of the costs are in supplying a niche and low tech segment. Most of them standing charge related. The biggest single cost is processing payments. On a credit tariff, we pay a few pence exactly 12 times a year. Direct Debits and card payments are nice and cheap, so this is a minimal cost for a credit member. Unfortunately, a prepay payment costs us about 40p a time, and prepay homes top up about 40 times a year on average. This makes prepayment about £16 more expensive for payment processing.

Other than that, meter management costs are higher, we have to send out physical keys and cards, and there are a few other things in the long tail too.

Fortunately, smart meters will help us reduce these, so fingers crossed we’ll be able to bring the tariffs closer together in future.

@“Will at Bulb”, thanks for the information, that’s helpful.

Any update on when you will be supplying pre payment meters? I’m literally just moving and want to switch. I don’t mind trialling it if that’s possible :slight_smile:

@MichaElle We should be over the few months, we first have to trial some initial members first.

Hi any update on when you’re rolling this out? Or can I be added to the trial?
Thanks

Can I be added to the trial, We are currently having work done to another house which has a prepayment meter and the charges are nearly double the rate we get from bulb.

@pjg and @BenM I’ve added you both to the list of members we may contact regarding the trial. For now, we are taking things really gradually to make sure we have a great product for everyone we take on.

Have these trials started yet, as I am interested in going on prepayment…

@angiegethin76, you can sign up with Bulb now if you have a pre-pay meter, from the normal quote page (https://quote.bulb.co.uk/join/quote). It’ll ask you part way through how you currently pay (top-up or direct debit).

If you’re currently on a credit meter and you’d rather be on a pre-pay meter, you’d probably be best giving them a ring on Monday to discuss changing.

Hi all,

As @mowicus has very helpfully said (thanks!) we now do take on prepay signups. Just go through https://quote.bulb.co.uk/join/quote

All the best,
Caspar.