Thursday, 12 September 2013

Held to Ransom by Power Company!

Beware! Rant about Power Company!



I live in a lovely little rural street. We aren't on a bus route, I don't have a car and the nearest shop and post office are about 7 miles round trip on foot or by bicycle, which I don't mind when it suits me and the weather is fine.
 
But here's the problem - we bought this fixy-up house complete with power supply by ScottishPower pre-payment meter. After resolving all the issues of replacing old wires, fuse boxes, sockets and switches, we could do no more - the main source of power and meter are the responsibility of the power supply company. But what do you do when said power company refuses to replace the meter for free when asked? We must pay to have it changed from pre-payment to standard metering system. Not a problem, we'll make do until they come along and do the compulsory change to Smart Meters - seeing as our Government has decided it's for the best that every household in Britain has a Smart meter fitted. I'm certainly not paying to replace the old prepayment meter with a standard one only to have it replaced again within a year or two. But this still means topping up the existing meter with credit.
 
Normally, this would be a straightforward thing to do, just take the electronic key to your local store or post office and hand it over along with some cash. But what if you don't have a local store or post office? We had to give up our car late last year, it was scrapped and we aren't in a financial position to throw money at a replacement. So, what of the electricity meter top-ups now? What if you can't drive, walk or cycle the 7 miles and what if there is no public transport? It's OK for me to walk or cycle in good weather but it can be very hazardous walking along narrow, twisting roads and then along the main shore road, which has rough verges and no foot paths, during bad weather!
 
Solution - invest in a computer module that allows you to top up your meter online.
 
Great! Here it is! The super duper Scottish Power 'In Home' pay as you go PowerPod, which you need to pay for the privilege of being able to pay your electricity! So, we forked out the £13.99 for said gadget - much cheaper than the £65 or whatever they asked for to replace the meter. Problem solved!
 
Except, my computer, along with probably thousands of others, gets automatic updates to Internet Explorer - the ONLY browser that is compatible with ScottishPower's wonderful PowerPod. Result - the pod is no longer compatible with the latest browser updates. It's pretty much been £13.99 down the drain unless I can resolve this problem. I am not technically minded nor do I know any computer tech people who will resolve the issues for free. I know, ask Scottish Power what to do about it...
 
Suffice to say, since making two different attempts at asking Scottish Power for their help in this matter, I have come to the conclusion that this is an issue for Consumer Watchdog. It feels like I'm being held to ransom by Scottish Power - I pay extra for the 'privilege' of having a ridiculously expensive pre-payment meter, I pay extra for the 'privilege' of having a, 'In Home' prepayment system that DOESN'T WORK, I pay extra by way of having to travel 7 miles every time I want to top up my meter, and I hav the option to pay even more for the 'privilege' of being changed to a normal electricity meter that will then need to be changed yet again when the Smart meters are introduced, which, by the way, we are all going to be charged for when they get here. 
 
I apologise for my ranty post today but this really has got to me again, it is a clear-cut case of punching the little people in the guts and forcing us to pay at least 25% more for out power than those folks who can afford not to care how much energy their households burn. The more I try to cut down on energy use, the higher each unit becomes!
 
  • If I cut to the barest minimum of, say, 5 kWh units of electricity per day, each unit would cost me about 19p
  • If I use 10 units each day, each unit would cost me about 16p which is roughly what I am paying, as we are entirely reliant on electricity for everything at the moment.
  • If I heat the house to the Government's recommendations to avoid fuel poverty and provide us with daily hot water, I would need to burn at least 75 units per day during winter, a whopping great £70 a week, but those units would cost me about 13p each.
Where is the fairness in this system?
 
As reward for trying to use as little electricity as possible, wrapping up in extra blankets at night, wearing extra clothes by day, collecting sticks for burning and doing without the luxury of warm rooms and hot water, we get charged over 30% more than those who don't care! And worse still, no allowances are ever made for how far north anyone lives. I know how much colder it is here to the south coast of England, I know what it cost to heat a previous house in the north eastern corner of Scotland. So please, can someone give me an answer to my question...
 
Why are rural dwelling, frugal living households who care about good health, lifestyle and the environment in which they live?

23 comments:

  1. It really is an an unfair money grabbing system.

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    1. We're finding our way around our reliance on electricity and I have a very good source of information in @SolarKev on Twitter. You can tell him @Frugaldom sent you - I would LOVE his set up in my garden and I even have the stream that could drive some power for me, too. How great would that be?

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  2. Couldn't agree more, it's always the little people who suffer.

    Can you not change supplier?

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    1. Unfortunately, I can't find any companies that will remove the meter free of charge. When I do the like-for-like comparisons, Scottish Power comes out cheapest for this area. I do tend to grumble a great deal about this issue and it isn't because it's a serious problem for me. I'm fit and healthy enough to walk or cycle the 7 miles, I can drag out the old laptop and use that or I can ask a friend or neighbour to top up the key when they visit the post office. It's more the principle of the thing - the fact that these massive companies have us over a barrel and no matter which way we look at it, the savers are being penalised at every turn. My personal view is that the first x number of units should be free (or at least much cheaper) if we're paying a standing charge, then it's up to us to control our own usage according to finances and ethics.

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  3. No wonder you're having a rant! So would I! They're quite blatantly taking the p... :(

    Lordy NYK is there really nothing they will do? I can't believe they are just leaving you in this situation! (Well, I mean I can believe it, but it makes me mad:( )

    So sorry about you not going on your trip too... Grrr, not a good week all round dear lady.

    I hope you have a better weekend NYK. Take care.
    Rw

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    1. On the plus side - I have a whole lot of new pipes in the house and the new solid fuel boiler almost installed - builder should have that done by tomorrow. This winter, I won't need to rely on electricity to heat the house. Yeah! :)

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  4. that is enough to drive anyone insane. How frustrating! I would definitely complain to Comsumer Watchdog - is there a power ombudsman too? Or, is that it?

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    1. Hi Carol, I'm currently finding out about how to check all the settings on my computer to see if I can download whatever is needed to make this pod work. Time ran away with me tonight, so it will need to wait until tomorrow, now. Not sure about who keeps an eye on the ethics and trading standards of utilities companies.

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  5. I would get in touch with my MP and the local news people quite frankly. They think because they are a big company they can do what they want but I think a little bit of adverse advertising about them might do the trick. Also, try the telephone number below and ask for their customer complaints department. I once did this with a Scottish Power shop that refused to change a damaged new television. Within 2 hours of my phone call, I had the store manager on line apologising profusely and my new tv was ready to collect as soon as! Here is their corporate (Glasgow) office telephone number, you could try it 0141 568 2000

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    1. Their take on this is that no damaged item was purchased, it's down to Internet Explorer & Windows updates rendering the USB device incompatible. I'm trying to resolve the problem but am a bit of a technophobe. I haven't a clue how someone like my mum would cope with this, she'd probably cave and just pay the £60 or whatever for them to change the meter but then they can ask for a deposit for the new one, too! I'll try the number during free call time over the weekend. I'm on minimum BT package and they just dropped the inclusive calls to weekend only! Ho hum... that's another story.

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  6. Just as an email from approved foods and their doing fresh fruit n veg! Couldn't help but think of you and hope it helps!
    Rw

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    1. Thanks, RW, I already had the news of the fruit & veg from Approved, after I placed an order last night (but didn't need veggies). I was making the most of their coffee beans offer. :)

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  7. OK, so I can't solve the inequality or ridiculous-ness of the system (or even begin to tell you how angry it makes me), but I might just possibly be able to help. If Scottish power told you which version of IE you need then you should be able to uninstall the current version and install the old version. Now of course this comes with a health warning, as we are all told on a daily basis that keeping software up to date is in our best interests from a cyber security point of view, which is of course fairly accurate. What i would say is that IE is just about the worst and most hackable browser out there! I would suggest that you install something like Firefox or Chrome, then uninstall IE, reverting to the version that works for Scottish Power, but setting your default browser to something else.

    All a lot of hassle I know, but it might solve the problem and will certainly make browsing a whole lot safer.

    Sources:
    Firefox download - http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/
    Chrome download - https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/
    Once you have installed a new browser to change your default browser, search for 'Default Programs', which should open a Default programs window. Click 'Set your default programs', then select your desired browser from the list of programs (unclick IE if it is still there).

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    1. Hi Tonia, I already use Chrome but the pod only works in Explorer. Had discussion with them about it when this first happened and they said pretty much what you're saying - mess about with computer - but I am not prepared to do that. I work from home, online, relying on computer every day. No way am I going to start trying to mess with uninstalling, reinstalling etc. I'll try to download the necessary add-ons again but as far as I'm concerned, Scottish Power should be replacing the USB pods. In fact, I don't even think they should be charging for them in the first place, as pre-payment meter holders are charged a premium for not running up bills in the first place. Scottish Power doesn't seem to give a stuff about it's low-level customers and the sooner I can reduce reliance on them, the better. They don't deserve my money! (Rant over again, sorry. LOL)

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  8. If you're still having these issues (personally i dont use explorer at all for any browsing other than topping up electric) click start in bottom left corner of screen, control panel, programs and then view installed updates. Scroll down until you find internet explorer (you'll prob be using 11 which stopped my powerpod from working) click install than you'll be asked to restart. All problems should be sorted then if not message back. PS the view installed updates takes between 2-15 minutes depending on computer. Good luck hope this helps you.

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    1. Did rolling back to a previous version of Internet Explorer allow you to use your home top up? If it didnt all i can say is either ring Scottish Power IT dept or Microsoft (not the Indian call centre cause theyre renouned for selling products that are useless and usually free along with getting you to give them full access of your computer anytime stealing credit card/banking details. Thats the main reason why sensitive websites dont display passwords unless you click to allow it instead making it appear as *s so anyone with remote access without malware to display key presses) keep it frugal instead of trecking to the shop only to be told you need to make a £5 purchase to top your key up, multiple shops have told me.

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    2. Hi Mark, I did contact Scottish Power on several occasions, including via Twitter, which seems to get the fastest response, I might add. I haven't touched anything on this computer. Instead, we set up old laptop and it successfully completed the top ups, SP allows you to pre-pay a maximum £249, so that's what we did. SP are pretty much avoiding the question of how this works when the top-up occurs before a price increase, saying the rates will automatically reset at next top up. This, however, won't be until spring, as there's still about £170 credit in the meter ticking round at the old rates.

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  9. No probs im not a tech geek only discovered this when my SP powerpod started saying only IE 6 and above was compatable even though my laptop was running 11? Let me know if it works for you although im positive it will do as sorted mine out.

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  10. Bit late to the party, but the SP Powerpod will work if you rollback IE Explorer but only on Windows 7 or less - totally refuses to work in Windows 8 as that operating system is also unsupported.
    I'm forced to keep an old version of Windows running on a spare laptop just to get their crap product/site working in order for me to pay them money!

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    1. Better late than never. :) As you';; have guessed (This post being 18 months old) the old laptop and preventing any windows updates has been the only way to top up the meter from home. I stand by my believe that this is an outrage and that SP should be made upgrade all the 'pods' so they are compatible, or else offer the option of a free meter exchange. Now they are rolling out Smart meters, but our area still has no mobile telephone signals of any description, so we still won't be getting a replacement.

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  11. Hi Everybody Try This My Computer runs ie 10 , If You Open Up The Page And Press F12 A Bar Will Appear In Ie Settings At The Bottom Of The Page , Scroll Down To Ie 7 And Then Connect Your Account To Sp That Way Works A treat For Me, Jimmy

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    1. Thanks for this tip, Jimmy, I'll try it when we next need to top up the meter. :)

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