I love my new house, I really really do, it’s great, I love most everything about it. But there’s always a but and in this case there are two nasty little buts that every interaction with makes me want to claw my eyes out. Two little things that I’ve luckily gotten to avoid for the rest of my life, my prepayment gas and prepayment electricity meters. I miss bills!…It kinda hurts to say that that!
This is why my fiancée got frozen in the shower this morning, why the fridge started defrosting the first month we were here (when I didn’t realise that if I’m not here to press the emergency credit button all the power goes, yay!) and why I just had to go for a walk in the cold and dark to put money on the gas meter and oh get charged 50p for the privilege. I think there is actual steam coming from my ears!
Since the first time the electricity went off I usually go to the post office pretty regularly and put credit on there, but this week British gas sent us a £4 voucher for being duel fuel customers. So smiling, I headed to the post office earlier this week thinking yay free money, only to be told that I needed to go to a paypoint shop to use it. So refusing to get worked up I put my money on the electricity meter and knowing there was a few quid left on the gas meter I said I’d go to paypoint for that later in the week. However this is the first week we’ve had the heating on, so that credit didn’t go all that far and my poor fiancée had to jump out of a cold shower this morning to activate the emergency credit…ooops!
Folllowing this mornings debaukle, this evening myself and the boy said we’d go for a walk and top up the meter. We walked to the shop, we spoke to the nice man there, he credited the voucher and then I said stick another £16 on to make up the £20, all good, he then charged me £16.50!!!! Eh wait a minute that maths not right.
So tonight I learnt paypoint charge another 50p for me to use my debit card. Yay for learning something new every day! There was no atm and it’s pretty cold so wanting to be able to turn the heating on and have a shower in the morning I paid it, feeling my blood pressure rise as I typed in my pin.
On the walk home oh how I ranted,and I’m not about to stop now! These meters are a major stress, the bane of my exsistence! ..there’s no calming me down now! I am constantly aware of how much I have in them, using up important brain space. They get checked almost daily, and I have to go out of my way to top them up….apparently there is an online system but British Gas after a tortuously long phone call told me I could request it online, online said it would arrive in the post, it hasn’t and I can’t and I just don’t have it in me to ring them again, they beat me down. Aside from the inconvenience of course is the fact that we are prepaying for a service everyone else pays for after they use it. I’m a small business owner coming up to Christmas, cash flow is a major problem but I am going to have to sink money into the meters this side of Christmas rather than paying a bill in January when I have some money. Then add to that the fact that I have to pay extra to put the credit on my meter! Where is my sledge hammer!
I’m sure at this stage you’re saying pipe down and just get a normal credit meter, oh I tried that! But I’m a sensible person with money and apparently that means I can’t have nice things! I paid all our gas and electricity bills for the last five years, add to that my phone bill, council tax, rent etc etc but I never took out a credit card, because I never wanted to have debt hanging over me. And of course if it happened outside the UK it didn’t really happen, so prior to 5 years ago I don’t exist. So no new meter for us, we could get a mortgage, but not a gas or electricity meter??? We considered changing to another supplier and spoke to Swalec since we’d been good customers with them before. We could change but probably wouldn’t pass the credit check; since we failed British Gas’ check and even if we did, while British gas would replace it for free, Swalec would charge us (I think it was £50) so we stayed as is. I hope to pass the credit check next time we phone them, now that we have a few mortgage payments under our belt, but trying to talk to them is like travelling to the 9th level of hell, and I just can’t face it yet!
Until then I like probably thousands of poor people in Britain will trudge through the lovely winter weather to get charged to pre pay for a service that everyone else can pay off from a direct debit or a simple phone call in 3 months time. And I’ll scrape together extra money to put on just to make sure I don’t come home to a defrosted freezer in a house made of ice.