No power to the people: some Ottery customers unable to use British Gas's electricity pre-payment machines
PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:40 14 January 2020
British Gas and the Post Office have apologised after users of pre-payment electricity meters in Ottery St Mary were unable to top up the credit on their payment keys.
Until the end of December, customers used PayPoint outlets to buy credit for their British Gas electricity keys.
But British Gas has now switched to Payzone, part of the Post Office, and there has been a problem with some of its machines in Ottery not accepting the keys.
One of the machines is in Pearson's News in Silver Street, and the other at the Ottery Service Station in Hind Street.
On Thursday, January 9, residents took to social media to complain about the problem, which they blamed on British Gas and Payzone failing to make adequate preparation for the changeover.
Some expressed concern that people who could not drive to the nearest working Payzone point would be left without electricity.
The pre-payment meters are used by many people on low incomes who find them the best way to manage their electricity costs, enabling them to make small payments as and when needed.
The Post Office said on Tuesday, (January 14) that Pearson's News has an older terminal that allows people to do some transactions, but not all.
The shop needs a new, more up-to-date terminal and Payzone are in discussion about how and when this could happen.
The terminal at Ottery Service Station is not working, and Payzone are hoping to send an engineer there 'soon' to fix it.
The Payzone terminal at the Post Office counter in McColl's, in Yonder Street, is now fully operational.
A British Gas spokesperson said: "We would like to apologise to any customer that has experienced issues topping up at their new terminal and we are working with Payzone to fix any problems as an absolute priority.
"We'd ask any customer impacted to contact us so we can advise on where their next nearest terminal is or provide additional assistance."
A Post Office spokesperson said: "British Gas customers should be reassured that, in the vast majority of cases, we are successfully handling bill payment and top up transactions with around 200,000 being performed every per day across our network.
"However, we are very sorry that a small number of British Gas customers are experiencing difficulties when trying to top up their pre-paid keys or cards at one of our Payzone retailers.
"Any disruption to service is taken extremely seriously and we are, of course, working as quickly as possible to resolve the issues. "We have significantly boosted the number of engineers working on the ground, and the staff in our call centres to provide support to customers and retailers.
"Customers can visit the Post Office on Yonder Street to top up whilst we resolve the issues at the Payzone retailers in the area."
"Any customers experiencing issues should contact British Gas, who will be able to provide assistance for customers facing any difficulty or disruption to their service."