In this article, we unpack three questions you should be asking your prepaid meter provider for added peace of mind that you are not being taken advantage of through hidden costs and inflated pricing.
It should be easier to be smart and responsible about utilities. The media attention around hidden costs and inflated pricing of prepaid meters together with Eskom’s proposed tariff changes makes it feel like it never will be easier.
Right now, if prepaid meter users want peace of mind that they are being billed fairly, they need to understand different tariff charges across different municipalities, they need to understand channel fees and they need to unpack management fees and services fees. It is not easy, but it is easier if you choose the right prepaid meter provider. Here are three questions you should be asking about prepaid meter providers.
Let’s unpack what these questions uncover.
Is the provider registered with ERASA?
Legally, electricity resellers cannot charge higher prices than the licensee (Eskom or municipalities) but there are no regulations in place to control what resellers charge as service or vending fees. The Electricity Resellers Association of South Africa (ERASA) exists to establish a code of conduct and best practices to which joining members must subscribe. Membership is voluntary so those electricity reseller members who choose to join the organisation actively support the principles of transparency. You can access a list of members by visiting their website www.erasa.org.za
Are they willing and able to explain the charges on a prepaid transaction?
Prepaid meter providers should be as transparent as possible when it comes to what is being billed for your prepaid meter usage. An example of this is a help centre with FAQs as well as useful articles that guide you on understanding how to calculate your fees, the different tariff structures and how to make sense of your prepaid transaction.
Are they actively looking for products and services that can reduce costs (and increase peace of mind)?
The best prepaid meter provider for you will also be able to offer value-add services that are meaningful to you. An example of this is the SaaS (software-as-a-service) that prepaid meter providers like Enbaya Prepaid Meters are able to offer. One way that Enbaya makes their software available to buyers is through auto-utility where users can set up recurring payments for their electricity and have their vouchers sent automatically at the same time every month saving them time and money because of the reduced channel fee. The software also allows real-time and transparent access to financial records which is especially useful for those that manage multiple properties. For example, property developers, housing managers, and property investors.
If your prepaid meter provider isn’t invested in moving forward with you to smart and responsible utility sub-metering then it may be time to switch.