Prepayment meter qualitative research, September 2023

Reports, plans and updates

Publication date

Industry sector

Supply and Retail Market

Findings on prepayment meter (PPM) consumer experiences.

Main points

  • Prepayment meters can have some benefits including increased visibility and control over energy usage and spend.
  • Participants like the flexibility around payment and being able to choose when to top up and how much by, however, there are a number of pain points that could cause them harm.
  • Participants often reported getting little information about the installation process or how to use the PPM.
  • Some participants faced challenges with topping up their PPM, both remotely and physically, and getting their supplier to resolve these issues.
  • Participants wanting to move away from this payment method reported various difficulties such as unwillingness from their supplier. 
  • Participants reported various perceived failings in supplier communications around debt and options available to customers if and when they get into debt, including inflexibility with repayment plans and affordability.


We commissioned Savanta to undertake consumer research to build a more in-depth evidence base on the experiences, journey, and challenges that different types of PPM customers face. 

The research consisted of 50 depth interviews conducted between April to June 2023 with participants who had acquired a PPM within the previous three years and a reconvened deliberative workshop in June 2023.

The objective of this research was to build a more in-depth understanding of the potential harms a PPM consumer may experience with a PPM. Ofgem wanted to gain deeper insight around:-

  • the start of the consumer journey: how consumers came to be on a PPM
  • the consumer experience of living with a PPM
  • supplier interactions and experiences
  • experiences of affordability challenges

Further information

The findings from this research engaging directly with PPM consumers, along with consulting industry, consumer groups, wider stakeholders and other data sources have helped to inform the development of the decision about involuntary PPM.