Tuesday, 26 November 2013


I'm guessing regular posting won't resume for quite a while as I am struggling to cope with everything at the moment.

However, I got a spare chunk of time so I thought I'd rant about what the electricity company has been up to.

I first noticed something odd was going on when I got back from holiday.  I have a pre-pay key meter and when I left for holiday I was sure I had about £35 on it and when I got back it was more like £20.  Given there was nobody there for that week this seemed odd, but I put it down to miss-remembering the amount on it when I left.

However, over the next few weeks I seemed to have to feed a hell of a lot more into it than usual (£110 over the course of about 5 weeks).  I therefore started to pay closer attention and specifically noting down the amount left when I when to work and when I got back.

This showed me that, during the 10 hours I was out it was still getting through 70-odd pence of electricity.  Even when I turned everything off bar the fridge-freezer, it still said I was apparently using 60-odd p of Elecy when I was at work.  Now when you consider that 1 kilowatt hour was about 16.5p, that's a hell of a power-hungry freezer!

Except it wasn't - to cut a long story short, what was actually eating up my money turned out to be a mysterious debt that they'd assigned to the meter.  Without telling us.

The meter is actually in the landlord's name and they hadn't received any letters about this supposed debt, yet they'd still assigned it and decided to take it out at a rate of £10.00 per week.  We're still not clear on how much debt they assigned, but given it was done via the key at the paypoint, that means it was put on some way before my holiday, so I reckon it was over £200.  Certainly when I worked it out there was £140 left and it had been 4 weeks since I'd topped the meter up after my holiday, so it was at least £180.

At this point my landlord basically stepped in and had to go through a tortuous process phoning them, but the end result is that they sent an electrician around and installed a new meter.  Interestingly according to this the rate of usage seems much lower.

I therefore suspect the meter was faulty - certainly it didn't seem to be doing things in line with what they said it should (they supposedly assigned a credit to it, but nothing happened when they put it in the paypoint machine).

However, I also suspect I know what might have caused them to think there might be a debt.  They obviously put the prices up at ever chance they can (electricity company profits have increased 5-fold in recent years) but a few years ago I decided I was going to put a load of money on the meter and therefore delay the need to get more.  this meant that my key didn't go into the paypoint machine for months, so it couldn't update the per-unit information.

That meant I had several months at the old rate after it changed.  Now my understanding is that they can't retrospectively apply the new charge, because it is a pre-pay meter.  I effectively pre-bought lots of electricity at the old rate.  Think of it like buying a load of toilet rolls when they're on offer: Andrex can't turn up at your door once the offer is over, demanding you have to pay 2p extra every time you wipe your arse.

However, the maths also doesn't work.  They put the price up by about 10%, which equated to about 3p per unit.  IF you do the maths it therefore only works out to be a debt of about £40, which is why I think the amount of debt is due to a faulty meter, but the period they think it occurred was during that period where I pre-bought.

Why ever did people fall for this bullshit about privatisation being a good thing?

I really wish the labour party would grow some balls and promise to re-nationalise them.

The basic services should be in state hands - that's the point of them.  Power generation and distribution has a basic cost and must be done at a national level for the benefit of the entire nation, not a handful of shareholders.