City Power forces prepaid meters on residents
03 May 2011 | Amanda Watson
Bramley: “Almost nobody knows anything about it,” said ward councillor Ray Wolder. “On 25 April I had a call from a resident who was very irate with City Power.
Technicians had arrived at his house and said they were disconnecting his electricity supply and installing a prepaid meter. He said he was not interested, but they allegedly said they would cut off his power altogether if he didn’t allow them to install the meter. So he accepted and was given a cash power card. The whole lot was apparently free, but City Power really should have informed us about this.”
A City Power memorandum reads the ‘project is aimed at converting conventional electricity meters which are faulty and/or inaccessible for meter reading to prepaid electricity meters. The conversion to prepaid under this project is for free and customers are not required to pay anything’. It goes on to say, ‘... City Power is converting [certain] customers to prepaid so as to reduce estimations and improve meter reading performance’.
The project aims to install 60 000 prepaid meters by the end of June. The memo said residents whose meters were due for conversion would be notified by sms and pamphlet at least seven days before installation.
Finally, it adds that customers should give City Power contractors access to change the meter to pre-paid as they might be disconnected if they refuse. City Power spokesman Louis Pieterse said at this stage the utility was only targeting unread and damaged meters, and people were receiving correspondence. “At a later stage we hope to roll this out to the city.”
Contact 011-490-7484/87 (office hours) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The full contents of the memorandum:
Regional Directors in the City of Johannesburg
And City of Johannesburg Management
City Power Johannesburg would like to inform you on a project that we are currently running. This project is aimed at converting convertional electricity meters which are faulty and/or inaccessible for meter reading to prepaid electricity meters. The conversion to prepaid under this project is for free and customers are not required to pay anything.
As part of our continuous improvement, City Power Johannesburg has identified customers that are being estimated which results in negative contribution towards accurate billing, and thus City Power is converting the affected customers to prepaid so as to reduce estimations and improve meter reading performance.
City Power has selected customers whose meters have not been read for 6 months and more due to no access, and all meters that are reported faulty. The total number of meters expected to be converted by end of June 2011 is 60,000 meters.
The project is not for a specific area or suburban but will be in all regions within the City of Johannesburg who are supplied electricity by City Power Johannesburg.
City Power has communicated with the affected customers by dropping off the notifications at the customer’s property at least 7 days before installation. The notification is sent so that the customer can contact us to arrange for access. All customers who have confirmed the access are sent SMS’s 48 hours before the installation to ensure that someone is available at home.
Also when the meter is changed at the customer’s property a booklet on how to use the new meter and places to buy electricity is given to the customer.
A helpdesk has been established by the City Power where affected customers can call or email the times they will be available for their meters to be changed. The details are:
• 011 490 7484/87 (during office hours)
Any faults can be logged on the Joburg Connect call center and there are City Power personnel who are on standby to assist customer on prepaid related queries 24 hours.
Customers are requested to give City Power contractors access to change the meter to prepaid as they might be disconnected should they refuse.
Customers who are converted to prepaid will not be billed on electricity after the final bill has been processed. Billing will not stop for other service like water, sewer, rates, etc but only on electricity.
Customers who are interested to be on prepaid but are not scoped can contact us on the above said number and they will be considered should the fund be available in the new financial year.
Revenue Task Team
City Power Johannesburg