The “GloBug” prepay power system is used in conjunction with a smart meter. In NZ, it is currently being marketed to low-income families with large billboards at a number of Auckland locations.
There were reports a few years ago that one of the companies using the GloBug had tried to bully customers into accepting this system.
You can read about the issues with GloBug at this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/do-you-have-a-globug-prepay-power-system/
Below is a photo of a meter and an aerial that was installed inside a family home to facilitate the use of the GloBug system.
Do you (or does someone you know) have a GloBug prepay power system?
Mercury Energy is busily marketing its “GloBug” prepay power system to low income families. This year GloBug is one of the sponsors of the annual Pasifika festival in Auckland and it has least one billboard advertisement in Auckland marketing the GloBug system. (The billboard features a very pretty little girl of Maori or Polynesian ethnicity.)
(Note to overseas readers: In New Zealand, statistically, Maori and Pasifika families are more likely to be impoverished than New Zealanders of Asian or European descent.)
Mercury is probably keen to improve the public profile of the GloBug system which has been the subject of quite a lot of coverage in the mainstream media, much of which is not complimentary.
For example a complaint was made to the popular consumer affairs TV show FairGo in 2010 – see http://tvnz.co.nz/fair-go/power-struggle-3736876 ) and a report by the NZ Herald’s health reporter Simon Collins about how families using prepay meters have been “shivering” from cold due to the expense of keeping the power on (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10839079)
Consumer NZ also expressed concerns about Mercury’s prepay power system in 2012. (See: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/6595787/Pre-pay-power-plans-unfair)
There have also been reports of Mercury Energy bullying customers to accept the GloBug prepay system (see: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10744327) and NZ Herald columnist Brian Rudman also excoriated Mercury Energy after the company threatened to move him to the GloBug system after he did not pay a bill that he had no recollection of ever receiving. (See http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10744518)
(Note to overseas readers: The NZ postal service is not that efficient; bills get lost in the mail from time to time!)
What Mercury Energy keeps very quiet is that the GloBug system relies on smart metering technology. (See; http://www.epaynz.co.nz/product-range/prepaid-electricity) This technology, which allows remote disconnection when people’s prepaid credit gets too low, has transformed low income households (which were previously considered a financial liability by the company) into a “cash cow”.
Mercury Energy’s parent company, Mighty River Power, has boasted:
“It [the GloBug prepay power system] has also turned some accounts, traditionally regarded by the industry as the worst customers, into some of Mighty River’s most-valued customers.
So, while Mercury Energy is being paid in advance for supplying electricity, the GloBug system relies on microwave radiation producing “smart” metering technology that may put its customer’s health at risk. And many of its customers will not even realise that opting for (or being forced to accept) a GloBug system means increased exposure to potentially carcinogenic microwave radiation.
The traditional analogue (Ferraris) meters installed in NZ when electricity was considered an essential public service (and was supplied by local authorities,rather than greedy corporations) do not produce any microwave radiation. Analogue (Ferraris meters) are still on the NZ market but many electricity retailers are trying to force their customers to accept smart meters.
NB: While Mercury Energy pioneered the use of GloBug in NZ, the company is not alone in using the GloBug system for prepay electricity; Meridian is also reportedly using this system.
A friend created a new logo for Mercury Energy to reflect the company’s reported bullying of its customers to try to get them to accept “smart” metering technology.
For a photo of a type of smart meter used in conjunction with a GloBug, please see this link: http://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/aerial-installed-inside-family-home-as-part-of-a-globug-set-up/
NB: If you are concerned about the financial, health or other risks of smart meters, please sign up to the free email list at www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz Thank you.