Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has issued an apology after he accidentally gave millions of people the wrong advice about their energy bills.
Martin, who regularly appears on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and This Morning, says he previously issued advice to people on prepayment meters – but it may not be correct. Earlier this month he told people that they could ‘stock up’ on energy by buying as much as they can now, before the 54 per cent price increase hits on April 1.
However, Mr Lewis took to Twitter and his website to make a heartfelt apology and warned people that it might NOT work for ALL suppliers.
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Writing on MoneySavingExpert.com, Martin said: “I wanted to write this personally, as unfortunately information we were given by energy firms and the regulator no longer looks watertight and this is about prepayment meters, which many vulnerable customers have. That means even slight changes, amidst this cost of living crisis, are crucial.”
I have pointed out that the top-up tip will “NOT work with Scottish Power and E.on”, as the firms confirmed. Scottish Power said it will gather the money back if a customer tops up later and they will start paying the new rates from April 1, reports Glasgow Live.
Martin explained: “The regulator has told us there is likely to be nothing in the license conditions that prevents firms from doing this. So we must work on the assumption that it is correct.”
However, I have added that the ‘max top-up tip’ is likely to work for other major suppliers’ electricity meters but his team will be checking again and should be able to confirm it on Thursday.
British Gas has already announced on Twitter that the tip will work for its non-smart prepay customers. Martin said: “This is new technical information told to us today by the regulator, on the back of our Scottish Power complaint.
“Gas meters are made by Siemens, and while they don’t record what the date of usage is, the key or card that people use to top them up can be preloaded with both current and new prices in advance of 1 April. Which means that on 1 April, the rate the meter charges for gas can change even without them being topped up.
“So my current best guess is suppliers will do those arrangements. Therefore this won’t work for gas meters, even though firms haven’t told us this.”
He added: “My team and I have been rigorously researching this. And we checked the answers from suppliers and the regulator before giving the information out. We checked again before I gave it out in my show, asking suppliers to confirm it was correct, and asking the regulator to give us confirmation in writing.”
Apologizing again he said: “I’m gutted to have now discovered that in some cases that information was duff. On behalf of both me and MSE, I’m sorry. Diligent research is what we pride ourselves on.”
An update on this should be available by Thursday, March 24 on MoneySavingExpert.com and the Money Saving Expert founder will likely share the latest findings on his social media channels.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.