Consumer Focus said it estimated power suppliers were making up to £550 million a year in extra charges from people on pre-payment meters. Typical customers using the devices were often those on the lowest incomes . Energy firms were using customers who pay for their gas or electricity through pre-payment meters to help subsidise cheaper deals for others.
"The energy companies are making the most money out of those on pre-payment meters and often those are the people on the very lowest incomes." said CF spokesperson
Energy awareness group National Energy Action said pre-payment metered customers paid on average £359 more a year than those with normal meters. This contrasts with the extra annual cost of between £85 and £100 to maintain the pre-payment boxes - a sum estimated by energy industry regulator Ofgem.
An NEA spokeswoman also added: "Once you are in debt you are effectively blocked from switching to cheaper deals."
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