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Consumers slam electricity providers

Three of Britain's biggest electricity providers are under attack over what consumer organisations have called the "indefensible" practice of back-charging.Powergen, Scottish Power and npower have been criticised by Citizens Advice and energywatch for allegedly driving customers into debt â€" by failing to promptly adjust pre-payment electricity meters.They argue that thousands of vulnerable consumers, unaware of energy price hikes, suddenly find themselves facing a bill of hundreds of pounds when the meter is finally read and adjusted.Teresa Pritchard, director of policy for Citizens Advice, said that around 700,000 consumers were potentially suffering under the debt."This injustice caused by the reprehensible policies of three major energy suppliers is unacceptable," she said."We urge the three suppliers whose policies are pushing some of the most vulnerable members of society into debt to follow the good practice of the other suppliers and act responsibly towards their customers by only implementing price rises when they manually reset meters."British Gas, EDF Energy and Scottish and Southern Energy are spared the wrath of the campaigners because, responding to pressure, they have already renounced the practice of back-charging.The campaign has attracted significant parliamentary support. An early day motion tabled by Labour MP Brian Donohoe has been signed by 131 MPs.Mr Donohoe said: "It is simply unacceptable that these three huge companies still insist on penalising low income consumers by forcing them into debt."What is even worse is that it is the outdated technology, poor practice and inaction of these very companies that is causing this, yet they still insist on hammering their own customers."None of the three companies were immediately available for comment.

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