An energy company has been forced to apologise and offer compensation to smart meter customers who’ve reportedly been suffering “nightmare” scenarios as a consequence of issues with their devices which have left some on different payment plans, and others without power for weeks. OVO Energy has said it “sincerely apologises” for the problems which have left its customers in disarray amid the associated fee of living crisis.
Several distraught smart meter customers belonging to OVO Energy got in contact with the BBC to share their horror stories.
Audrey Risdon explained said that she feels as if she resides in a nightmare ever since being switched from a sensible meter to a prepayment system while she was in hospital. The 81-year-old Hampshire resident has since come out of hospital and been returned to “credit mode” – a less expensive plan – and has been offered £327 in compensation.
But her story inspired many more smart meter customers to get in contact with the BBC. 83year-old Robert Hutchinson, also from Hampshire, paid his bill quarterly by cheque but sent by chance sent his bill to the flawed address.
This resulted in his electricity getting cut off for 23 days. While OVO has “sincerely apologised” and offered £150 in compensation, the 83-year-old said his fridge has not worked since power was restored. Mr Hutchinson can also be now on a pre-payment meter and is relies on his neighbour to buy top-up cards.
This all comes amid an energy crisis that has forced most households to fork out double the quantity to pay their bills compared with last 12 months as wholesale gas costs have surged, having an enormous knock-on impact on billpayers.
This can also be set to worsen as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that the Energy Price Guarantee – which caps bills at £2,500 for typical households – will go as much as £3000 from April.
While smart meters are devices which might be geared toward helping customers soften the blow as they permit you to closely monitor your energy activity in real-time, they’ve been host to a complete heap of problems amid the crisis.
In a letter sent to The Guardian over the summer, one consumer complained that her meter, run through Shell Energy, had stopped working. She reported that her smart meter became “strangely uncommunicative” shortly before the April 1 tariff increase on gas.
When the publication asked other consumers to send of their complaints about their very own smart meters, a whole lot of letters began flooding in.
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John Curtis, the manager of a residential estate, said: “Smart meters are an absolute scandal – tens of millions were spent, yet the bulk listed here are now useless.
“Now we have to read just about all of them and are steadily required to offer dated photographs for all phases plus the entire, on each meter – sometimes 4 photos for every reading – because the power firms don’t trust customers to offer accurate readings.
“One other example of taxpayers’ money wasted on a government fantasy, with unproven technology rolled out nationwide with an almost entirely negative result. The cash would have been higher spent continuing to employ meter readers as a substitute of devolving this increasingly irksome task to customers.”
One other issue with smart meters is that energy firms are capable of switch smart meter customers on to prepayment meter plans remotely.
Energy industry regulator Ofgem warned that this could be done at a moments notice and at the straightforward switch of the button. With prepayment meter plans typically costing more, several energy charities have called for moratorium on all prepayment meter installs this winter.
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Matt Copeland, from the NEA, said: “National Energy Motion would love to see a moratorium on all prepayment meter installs this winter. Whether traditional or smart, the foundations and safeguards that govern prepayment meter installs are equivalent. Suppliers must be certain that they follow them.”
Neil Lawrence, director of retail at Ofgem sent energy firms a stern warning: “Smart meter pre-payment switches are on the rise, and we do monitor that data.
“This could only be when it’s protected and practical to accomplish that, and smart meters shouldn’t be switched without those appropriate assessments going down, including identifying vulnerability.
“Ofgem has written to all suppliers to urgently remind them of their obligations. Where they fail to accomplish that, we’ll take motion against them.”
Express.co.uk has contacted OVO Energy for comment.
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