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Extra charge on pay-as-you-go electricity in some shops

St Vincent de Paul has criticised retailers who add on the charge.
Aug 19th 2014, 3:24 PM 14,026 37

ST VINCENT DE Paul (SVP) has called on retailers to drop surcharges on energy top-ups for users of the pay-as-you-go scheme.

This came as a response to a survey carried out by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) that found retailers to be adding a surcharge to top-ups of between 20c  and 50c.

These cards are currently in use by 150,000 customers and are supplied by ESB and Bord Gais.

On the issue, SVP said:

 A fixed surcharge is adding further pressure on many people who are making the effort to budget properly and avoid falling into arrears with their energy bills.

“Once again people struggling on lower incomes are expected to pay more for essential goods and services; in this case energy.”

In the short survey conducted by MABS in one area of Dublin, it was found that some branches of Supervalu and Centra stores have been placing a surcharge on the top-up service.

Speaking to today, communications officer with MABS Michael Culloty said:

We were asked to promote these PAYG meters to avoid people being disconnected. Further burdens are being put on people who can ill afford those charges.

“If you are on basic welfare, you will be watching every 50 cent. If you can only top up a fiver a time, that is 50 cent a time”.

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The flexibility in the pay-as-you-go system of paying for electricity is thought to serve as a mechanism preventing people going into arrears and having their service cut off.

Electricity companies have previously expressed dissatisfaction with the surcharges being placed on the service. Despite this, Culloty feels that a withdrawal from stores is unlikely.

The agents of the electricity companies haven’t done anything about it. They have a problem because if they withdraw their services from the shops, the area could be left without a provider.

The Musgrave Group, who own Supervalu and Centra, have been contacted for a comment.

Read: Postmasters say that moving motor tax to post offices would save €27 million

Also: Expect (some) good news at the fuel pumps later this year

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Michael Sheils McNamee


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