The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has called on retailers to stop adding surcharges when providing top-ups for electricity and gas pay-as-you-go or pre-payment cards.
Pay-as-you-go or pre-payment meters, supplied by the Network companies of ESB and Bord Gais, are currently used by over 150,000 people, as a way of managing their energy bills and paying off arrears.
A survey of shops in one Dublin area by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) found that the majority of the shops were adding surcharges to the service.
The SVP believes that the practice also happens in other parts of the country.
Louth county councillor Liam Reilly, Area President of St Vincent de Paul , said a fixed surcharge is adding further pressure on many people who are making the effort to budget properly and avoid falling into arrears with their energy bills.
“It is no right that people struggling on lower incomes are expected to pay more for essential goods and services,” he said.
“We have consistently said that pay-as-you-go or pre-payment customers should not be disadvantaged by using these meters.
This is something the energy companies agree with.
“Retailers have willingly entered into an agreement to provide this service.
“And if people are coming in to top-up regularly, they will be buying items in the shops.
“So the practice of retailers adding surcharges when providing top-ups for electricity and gas is unacceptable and should end,” he said.