One of the less likeable parts of my job, going around to the houses of people that have not paid their power accounts for a while (some up to 6 months), and remove the mains fuse, until the said account has been paid. I absolutely hate this aspect of my job, but business is business,however, I was asked by an elderly man the other day,"How would I like it if I was in his position, with Dinner half-cooked,and the power is about to be turned off?". I really feel for the people that cannot pay the exorbitant prices(Line Charges+kWh charges), that power companies charge. How would you feel if you were in my shoes?. Although we should all pay our power accounts,the pension system over here is a shocker, leaving the elderly to perform a balancing act with thier fortnightly allowance, some of them go without food and some of the essentials of life, just to pay the power bill. Have any of you been in the same boat as me?, We just get a Permit To Disconnect, no questions, just do it!. Your thoughts on this regime?. P.S, In the senario that I put forward, I came back the next day, it would be a shame to ruin a good roast!!.
I didn't realize that disconnections were part of your job in NZ.
In the U.K. only a PoCo employee would do this, and I certainly don't envy you having to turn up at somebody's house to pull the service fuse.
I think that disconnections here aren't all that common, unless all attempts to contact the person or make arrangements have failed. If bills start to get high/unpaid here, most utilities will suggest that they install a prepaid card meter. Quite a few people around here are on that scheme (voluntarily, in most cases) to help budget the costs.
The cards are generally available as £5, £10, and £20. It works as a modern, cash-less version of the old "shilling in the slot" meters.
The modern meters have an "emergency credit" button on them which gives about £5 or £10 of extra credit, just in case somebody runs out of cards at an awkward time. (If that runs out too, they'll have to insert cards of a high enough value to cover the emergency credit and the next minimum payment before the contactor will close again.)
The meter's LCD display can be cycled through kWh normal/low rates etc., but usually displays the amount of credit remaining (in pounds/pence) so that people can see how much they're using.
[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 01-30-2003).]
Re: How would you like it?#135726 01/30/0309:57 AM01/30/0309:57 AM
Same in Ireland the ESB is very slow to disconnect customers it's an absolute last resort.
They'll usually suggest:
1) changing your payment so that you spread costs over the year based on average consumption rather than paying heavy bi-monthly bills during peak usage seasons (autumn/spring and especially winter here)
2) they'll suggest energy saving measures.
3) Install a card meter as above. You just purchase prepaid units either on magnetic cards or on a rechargable smart card. The long-term plan is to have meters that can accept Visa Cash/Equivilant (Electronic Purse) so you won't have to buy them in an ESB shop. These meters regularly appear in student and shared apartments and holiday accomodation or where disputes over the ESB bill might occur.
Before a domestic supply was cut off here they'd also suggest that you talk to the department of social welfare about getting income support and budgeting advice.
Same with the main telephone company, eircom. They'll usually phone up and ask why and bar all chargable calls until some sollution is found or install a small payphone/cardphone (less common since pre-paid mobile phones are so popular) They also provide student/shared apartments with pin access. So if you make a chargable call you must dial a pin number unique to you and calls are attributed to the people who made them on seperate pages of the bi-monthly bill.
Cable television companies are the only ppl who go around cutting people off on a regular basis. Vodafone Ireland are also very trigger happy!
Re: How would you like it?#135728 01/30/0301:09 PM01/30/0301:09 PM
I've never heard of card meter. It sounds like a good solution. (Relatively speaking)
Here, the social authorities are (should be) notified before water or electricity is disconnected. In many cases electricity is part of the rent, and therefore not disconnected. (In my case both electricity and cable TV. I cancelled my the phone about two years ago, as it didn't fit my budget.)
Re: How would you like it?#135730 01/30/0301:39 PM01/30/0301:39 PM
Trumpy, Thankfully electrical contractors do not have to disconnect consumers here. As Paul said, only PoCo officials can disconnect supplies for non payment. Nowadays such disconnections are extremely rare. I think most UK PoCo's have a policy of not disconnecting elderly consumers during the winter months. If you have difficulty paying a bill our local PoCo (Scottish Hydro Electric) will instal a card (token) operated pre-payment meter, like the type described by Paul. These meters can be programmed to recover any debt owed at a set rate every week from the cards inserted, while paying for all current usage as you go.
During the 1990's card meters became very popular up here, even for those not having difficulty paying, as Hydro Electric were offering discounts for prepayment customers with no additional charge for a card meter, unlike some regions. These meters are still very common but are starting to fall out of favour, except for those on tight budgets. Many customers now pay by monthly direct debit, as you get bigger discounts and spread the cost evenly over the whole year. Some of these card meters can simply be re-programmed (by the PoCo) to operate as a standard credit meter if a customer changes to direct debit or quarterly billing. I should be able to get a picture of one in the near future.
Re: How would you like it?#135733 01/31/0307:10 AM01/31/0307:10 AM