Meridian to transfer Power Manager customers to Mercury Energy

Our block of flats has Power Managers fitted throughout. It’s not a bad little system even though I have run out a few times in the nine months due to financial stringency. Now that my pay has risen to a level that compensates me for the rent increase when I moved here, I can afford to buy more credit without having to cut it so fine. One of the biggest issues with Meridian Power Manager is the limited top-up opportunities. There are just twelve retail outlets in Christchurch that are capable of topping up the cards. In my case the nearest such outlet is the nearest Mad Butcher branch about 1 km away. Since they close at 7 pm there have been a few times where I have missed out on top ups such as staying at work late. These days of course you should be able to top up on the Internet or something.
Well Meridian this week announced their Power Manager customers would be transferred to Mercury Energy. The new system will allow a much larger number of outlets to credit the cards, as well as being able to do it by phone, text or internet. Although I am quite in favour of the Power Manager system, Consumer NZ has come out against it. The issue from their point of view is that prepay customers don’t get the prompt payment discount that on account customers get and so are charged more for power. Whilst that is reasonably significant, in my view it is balanced by the convenience of not having to pay the account all at once and also having better control over power expenditure particularly in winter, that could well make it easy to recoup the difference. It is certainly better for situations where tenants haven’t got an account or perhaps have a bad credit history. Here we didn’t have a choice as the landlord had them installed. Certainly it is a convenient system in a lot of ways and I have found it to be very good for managing my use of power to the extent I have probably saved a significant amount in the time I lived here. Generally I do agree with the idea that prepay customers should get some sort of recognition for the fact we pay in advance and don’t incur credit and payment processing costs for the power company. Maybe the added cost of the meters and topup systems is significant enough to use up the difference.
The main difference for the GLO-BUG system is that the meter itself doesn’t actually display instantaneous usage or remaining credit like Meridian’s one does. The first feature is quite useful on the Power Manager for telling how much power a particular appliance is using, if most other things in your house are off. The credit balance can be texted or emailed to you daily. The unit display uses a bar graph to give some idea of the credit remaining plus it changes colour as well. It is claimed that the earlier GLO-BUG display that gave out the same information as Power Manager cost too much. Another issue I see is the minimum topup amount of $20.00. This is definitely going to be an issue for people on tight budgets who might only have $10 (the Power Manager minimum) to top up their phone until their next pay or benefit day. The GLO-BUG sits inside your house and is just plugged into a power outlet, so it can be put anywhere rather than being fixed in one place like a Power Manager.