My prediction for 2019 – smart meter issues will come to a head.

8th Jan 2019

 

Firstly, Happy New Year and I hope you all had a good festive break. For those who kept the gas flowing, the lights on and worked throughout the holidays, our thanks.

I was going to start my 2019 series of blogs talking about utilities and the consumer (I’ve recently moved house so have some interesting insights to share) but instead, I’m going to make my prediction for 2019, smart meter issues will come to a head this year. The media will run stories about the roll-out and Ministers will be on the frontline (and the back foot).

I’m basing my prediction on two pieces of anecdotal evidence, from a small sample. I won’t name the energy suppliers or meter providers, yet, but reserve my right to at a later date.

Case study 1, involves a homeowner being billed over £1200 for six months of electricity (around 10,000 units), used in an empty property that is on a pre-payment meter. When the homeowner challenged the reading, the supplier couldn’t see the problem. What was even more galling for the homeowner, was the little graph on the bill which stated that the annual usage was just 600 units, despite a bill being issued for 10,000. The company’s inability to see things through the lens of the bill payer, I’m afraid speaks volumes about their attitude towards consumers. And it is a lesson our industry needs to pay heed to.

Case study 2 involves an 83 year-old pensioner who switched electricity supplier. The new supplier insisted a smart meter was fitted. The problem was, (and the north of England beware) wireless reception was poor. When the signal dropped out, the meter switched to pre-payment mode and because the consumer paid by direct debit did not top-up her meter, and was cut off. Here’s the twist, one solution offered to this 83 year-old lady, was to switch to a pre-payment meter (with its higher unit prices and inconvenience). My message to this supplier (and others) is simple – if this is your practice then stop now before you incur the wrath of Ministers, the regulator and the press.

 Best Wishes

Mike Foster, CEO