Boost issues top up customers coronavirus advice
As the coronavirus continues to spread, elderly and vulnerable prepay energy customers across the country are facing the prospect of being left without power in their homes if they’re unable to leave the house to top up. Along with the government’s advice on self-isolating and social distancing during a lockdown of the country, many are also facing the reality of an uncertain financial future due to the economic blow the COVID-19 outbreak has dealt the country.
We take a look at special measures Boost has put in place for its prepay customers and delve into other ways you can avoid being stuck without power during the coronavirus pandemic.
Will my Boost service be affected during the lockdown?
Boost has reassured its customers that it will try to continue providing the same service with minimum disruption during this time, with the majority of its staff working remotely. However, the provider is seeing a lot more call traffic at the present moment, with increased waiting times.
Therefore, Boost has requested that its customers only phone as a matter of urgency, to help prioritise its most vulnerable users and those that are self-isolating. The supplier has suggested getting in touch on social media for non-urgent matters.
For those on Smart PAYG+, Boost has requested that, where possible, customers top-up using their online account via desktop or the app, which is available from both the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android. This way you can avoid putting yourself at risk of exposure to the coronavirus by making unnecessary trips to the shops to top up your energy.
If you’re in self-isolation and unable to use the app to top up your account, we recommend getting in touch with relatives or a trusted neighbour who may be able to go to the shop and top up your key or card on your behalf. Remember to take the recommended measures by remaining between one and three meters away when you’re dealing with others, even if neither person is showing any coronavirus symptoms.
I need to top up my power but don’t have anybody to help me
If you are unable to seek assistance from a neighbour or relative, Boost recommends calling its customer care team on 0117 332 3728 or 0330 102 7517 (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday 9am-1pm) to walk you through other options. If you have a smart prepay meter, Boost may be able to remotely switch your power supply back on, should it be required.
The supplier has set up a dedicated team to assist those who are self-isolating or struggling to pay for their energy, given the current situation. As mentioned above, Boost is experiencing a spike in call demand at the moment, so you may face a longer wait than usual to speak to someone.
I already have an appointment booked - will it still go ahead?
Boost has said that it aims to honour previously booked meter installations and other home visits, as well as continue to accept new bookings where possible - and safe - to do so. This means that at present it will not take new non-emergency appointments from those who are over 70 or in other high-risk groups. If somebody in your household becomes ill and you are due to have a Boost technician visit, please let the provider know, so you can cancel your appointment and rebook it is safe to do so.
The supplier has put some measures in place to protect its customers.
- Boost will call you prior to your appointment, to check that nobody in your household has come down with symptoms related to the coronavirus.
- If a Boost engineer does visit, they will wash their hands before entering your home and also wear safety equipment.
- Once inside your home, engineers will try to keep 2 metres from others at all times, as per the government’s coronavirus advice and ask that windows and doors where they are working are kept open.
What alternative options are there to topping up my prepay energy account?
One way to avoid having to leave the home to top up your energy is either by switching to a smart prepay meter or to a standard meter.
With a smart prepay tariff you are able to top up online, meaning no need to leave the house or rely on somebody else to run to the shops for you. Your energy provider can also switch your power back on remotely, in case of any emergencies.
With a standard meter, you can arrange to pay for your energy by Direct Debit, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be left without energy if you’re housebound for the time being. You’ll also benefit from being able to manage your account online, often through an app on your smartphone or tablet.
In fact, switching from a prepay meter to a standard meter will also save you money, with the cheapest standard meter tariff coming in at just over £200 less for the average household than the lowest prepay tariff. Of course, this won’t be the same for everyone, so we recommend you compare tariffs to see how much you can save.
It’s often those in vulnerable circumstances who are on prepayment plans. A prepayment meter may be good for budgeting, but it can also negatively affect those most at risk of fuel poverty by paying over the odds for their energy.
No matter your situation, we would recommend heeding the government’s coronavirus advice by trying to stay at home whenever possible. If you do need to leave the house to top up your prepay account, we would suggest topping up more credit than usual, meaning fewer trips outside.
Government schemesIf your household is at risk of fuel poverty, there are a number of government schemes and grants available to help with energy bills, such as the Warm Home Discount, the Winter Fuel Payment and the Energy Company Obligation