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Smart meter issue

posted by Glenmornan | 3 months ago

In November 2018 we responded to an e-mail request to have a Smart Meter installed (Electricity only), and this was duly done by a sub contractor. The Smart meter display gave clear indication that our usage was within budget and we felt we had made the right choice.

However, a fortnight ago we got a visit from a friendly Scottish Power operative who indicated that he would require to check the Smart Meter installation. He confided in us that the sub-contractor had failed to install the meter correctly, in particular with regard to failing to correctly fit seals to the cables, and also that an internal screw head had been sheared, which was potentially dangerous.   

He was apologetic about the inconvenience and said he would have to file a report with regard to the quality of the subcontractor's work.  What a nice man we thought. He had made our new meter nice and safe. 

However, after a week of the new "safer" meter we noted that our electricity usage has gone up by about 10% per week. We're now wondering whether the Scottish Power official had actually been sent to alter the meter, so that it possibly put us on another tariff. 

Sorry, but these days we tend to trust nobody at all, and just wondered if anybody could comment on a similar experience. We never had any issues with our old meter over the last 22 years, but are now wondering whether the sub-contractor had actually tampered with the meter during installation in some way. Most expensive reading  per week was £10.70 before we had it "fixed".  We're now up to £12.77 and possibly rising, and there are only two of us (pensioners) in the house. We're hoping it will sort itself out over the coming weeks otherwise it's complaint time

If it was the case that we had been on a wrong tariff, that would not have been a problem if it had been explained to us, but we now both have a "bad taste" about this whole experience. 

14 comments

posted by Davc | 3 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue
Yes a worry for you. The meters only record units of gas and electricity. These are converted to £ according to what tariff you are on, this conversion is done at SP the meters have nothing to do with tariffs. It is possible the meter was measuring slow and has been changed, but certainly not your tariff which you can check on your bills. Your IHD has tariff terms on it but it is iften set wrongly and does not influence your actual bill.

posted by Glenmornan | 3 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the info re this. We had never heard of Scottish Power operatives calling to "check" installations, and from the time he spent working on the meter he could have installed it properly himself and still had half an hour to spare. 

I'm reading this as something was wrong with the meter setting and he was sent out to correct it. It just so happened that the installation "engineer" had made a bit of a botched job of it, and that was used as a "smoke screen" to disguise the fact that Scottish Power's operative was actually there to adjust the meter setting. 

All he had to do was tell us that the meter was reading slow and we would have understood, although I suppose that approach may have caused difficulties with customers in the past, refusing access to the meter etc. 

Unfortunately people from our generation can remember the days when our utilities were supplied  by  whichever "empire" was our local provider, and complaining was useless, as in their eyes the customer was always trying to avoid a way of paying the correct bill. 

This whole issue has taken us back to those days when utility providers used devious tactics to alter meters in an effort to reclaim unpaid revenue. 

I could be wrong of course, but this has not been a very good advert for smart meters. We were considering having a similar meter fitted by British Gas for our gas supply, but now reckon that it would be "smarter" not to bother, as we pay enough for our gas as it is, and don't want to pay 10% on top of that as well for a nice little display to tell us. How do we now know that our electricity smart meter is reading correctly?  Before our recent visit we were just within our projected monthly budget. Now we are constantly running over it. The amount will probably not be very much, but 10% on an annual electricity bill is 10%. No point in blaming sub contractors for shoddy workmanship. I'm not really buying that one.

Change provider? We've tried that twice in the last 20 years, and if you live where we do (TD9 9JP) by the time they got around to doing the paperwork the offers of inducement to change provider had expired. 

Thanks again, Dave. 

posted by Glenmornan | 3 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue

Sorry,

It just occurred to me that the Scottish Power operative mentioned that some "seals" hadn't been applied during the installation. I at first presumed those were electrical safety concerns, but am now starting to wonder if he was referring to any security seals designed to make the meter tamper proof.  He worked on the meter for well over an hour and mentioned "seals" on several occasions. 

If it was the case that the sub contractor deliberately "doctored" the meter or failed to fit security seals then that puts us straight into the "them v us" situation involving lack of mutual trust between supplier and customer. When you then add a third party to the equation you increase that element of mistrust considerably. Had there been cases of the meter fitters accepting some sort of bribe to alter the meter's speed? 

I'll probably never know, but what I do know is that somebody needs to pay for people to go around checking up on the sub contractors, and we all know who ultimately fits the bill for that. I think just about every householder in the UK has had a "run in" with their utility providers over the years, and in my opinion smart meters will only tend to increase the amount of such disputes. 

I'm now seriously considering making an official complaint (and be accused of being party to having a domestic meter with no tamperproof seals fitted).

posted by Davc | 3 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue

Hi Glen. If you are basing your comments on what the IHD is telling you then relax they are notoriously unreliable. The only true measure of cost is your kWh consumption and the calculation on your bills. 

I don’t think it is possible to alter the ‘speed’ of a meter and your fitter was probably telling the truth. 

The IHD gets its settings from SP remotely but they very often have the wrong tariff and do not react if you change your tariff. As I said the IHD has no influence on your bills it is just to give a local approximation of costs. You can turn off the IHD and the smart system continues to work normally. 

Top answer

posted by Glenmornan | 3 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue

Hi,

The whole issue is that people my age simply don't trust the suppliers of any metered goods, and we can remember the days when there was no choice of supplier. At that time we weren't "customers" but "users", and the user was always wrong.  It was always a case of "pay up or be cut off", even if you were right and they were wrong. The truth was that there were so many dodges invented by "users" to avoid paying the correct tariff, particulary meter tampering, that the suppliers just assumed that everybody was at it. Their attitude and telephone manner of their staff reflected on the situation, and things like that tend to stick in your mind. 

Our account is currently in credit by about three months worth of direct debit payments, so we wouldn't have expected to  see an increase in the cash value of our usage. The fact that the SP engineer "cold called" on us sort of threw us a bit. We thought it may have been etiquette to contact us by e-mail, text, or telephone, to advise us, and the fact that they never did that tainted the whole experience with suspicion. 

posted by Wombat | 2 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue
We have a situation where our smart meter just doesn't work AT ALL And has been stuck on the same amount for 2 months plus. When contacted Scottish Power staff just don't seem to understand our problem and the fact that we are both disabled and cannot read our meters as in not a chance that we can read our meters as we can not bend enough to do so. Our other complaint is that we wernt left any paperwork regarding our smart meter so we can't work out if there's anything we can do to reboot it or actually get any information from it!!

posted by Davc | 2 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue

Hi Wombat, it is your IHD display that is not working. The meters are probably doing their thing quietly in the background, check your bills to make sure your readings are labelled Smart and not Estimated.

A lot of people had blank IHDs recently, it is a computer problem at SP and hopefully they will solve it and reboot everything before long.

If you are getting estimates, what you could do with is an agile youngster to go and take readings for you, I know the problem.

posted by lynx63 | 2 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue
SP are hopeless and seem to assume that a customer or user, could not possibly know better than they do if a meter isn’t working. We’ve had one for about 18 moths, my choice, but it’s never picked up our gas readings. Electric meter is at back of the house, gas outside front. We have thick sandstone walls and have been trying to tell them that may be the problem but they dismissed it as impossible and don’t be stupid it is working. Despite no gas being charged for and their phone app being all wrong too😡 they eventually called to say they had a problem because of the house build because it was happening to others! They said I need to read the meters, I refused. Said I’ve got a smart meter and if they can’t get their equipment to work they can come and read the meters. Added problem is the engineer who fitted smart meter moved out electric one to ceiling height, we have 3 meter high ceilings, so now I can’t read it !!

posted by Davc | 2 months ago
Re: Smart meter issue
Hi Lynx. Refusing to read your gas meter is not going to help. Read it and send in the reading to get a realistic correct bill.

Your smart meter has not been installed correctly and should not have been left like that. The answer is to move the electric meter closer to the gas meter so they can communicate. The electric meter does all the data reporting so at least that should not need a manual reading for now.
Remember your gas meter normally has a blank screen and you need to press a button to see a reading. Please send in a reading.