Smart Meters; a continuing tale of woe…

The cost of electricity and gas is a hot topic and, unsurprisingly, it came up in recent conversations with a busy millennial with a well-paid job, a 82-year-old widow living in social housing, and a 96-year-old widower still living independently in his own property. Apart from energy prices, a common theme ran through all these conversations, namely a bad experience with their energy provider and smart meters.

The millennial is rarely at home and uses a small amount of energy. Their smart meter stopped functioning a year ago when their supplier moved their account to a new IT system and messed up the transfer. The disgruntled millennial has thus reverted to entering manual meter readings online as regular contact with their provider to resolve the meter problem has proved fruitless. Last week the provider emailed an energy forecast which is 3x the current level and recommended tripling the millennial’s monthly direct debit immediately. With a very healthy credit balance, and checking their historic usage, the believe the provider’s forecast is wide of the mark. Accordingly, they’ve refused to accept the recommended direct debit increase and are once again trying to get the provider to return their smart meter to normal function.

The two pensioners were apparently persuaded by their energy provider to ‘trial’ a smart meter many years ago. About three years ago, however, their meters stopped working and estimated bills have been issued and paid ever since. For a couple of years both pensioners have regularly received letters from their provider threatening legal action because they haven’t submitted a real meter reading. Both regularly telephone their supplier to explain that they cannot submit readings because the LCD displays on their meters no longer work! After every call, the provider has sent someone to read the meter, only for that person to find they cannot take a reading because the LCD isn’t working! The meter readers say an engineer is needed, and when the pensioners have diligently reported this back to their providers, another meter reader turns up to read the meter! The two elders now hate their supplier, hate smart meters, and feel trapped in a Groundhog Day! The 96-year-old has, however, now sought assistance from Citizen’s Advice.

Long before current energy price issues, these individuals have developed a deep distrust of energy providers and smart meters, compounded by media reports like this, this, and this.  They think smart meters are over-hyped, irrelevant to consumers, and already obsolete. The 96-year-old wryly tells anyone who will listen when they hear smart meters mentioned that they are a ‘tale of woe’! A look at  the most recent UK smart meter rollout metrics, suggests they are hardly a success after 11 years and billions in expenditure. The Badger senses that more rollout delay and cost to the consumer on the horizon, and if that’s the case then the 96-year-old has called it right – the whole thing really is ‘a tale of woe’.

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