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Energy company blaming me...

(29 Posts)
unhappyenergycustomer Wed 19-Mar-14 10:43:58

18 months ago British Gas installed smart metres for gas and electric. Shortly after that I switched energy supplier to a different company. This company it transpired could not read the metres installed by BG, went through long protracted process providing them with serial numbers, photos, engineer coming out to resolve this. Naively thought this was sorted and they could read the metres remotely (whole point of smart metres). Kept paying my direct debit.

A year on finally got round to checking my account online (yes I know should have done this), the gas bill is �1,000 in arrears, nobody has contacted me during this period to say my DD was insufficient. And they can't read my metre all my bills are based on estimated readings.

Contacted supplier to say why has this happened, and they have told me, they can't read the smart metres only the supplier who installs these (BG) can take remote readings from smart metre it operates as a normal metre for them. But I can't take a reading, there is no reading on the display. So unless they send someone out I have to rely on estimated reading.

They are making out this is my fault, I should have been checking my bills online....but they still can't read my metre....I can't read my metre so is this my fault?

I am so angry about this, as spent loads of time last year speaking to them and BG to get this all sorted and am back to square one but with a huge bill that I now owe (although that is based on estimate to could be more could be less).

How is it ok for an energy supplier to install a metre that only they can read, the whole point is that you are supposed to be able to use any energy supplier. Not sure what to do about this, engineer coming out to read my metre but I don't know how he is going to read it as there is nothing on the display....

pigsDOfly Wed 19-Mar-14 10:50:44

Not much help I know, but I do sympathise with you as my energy supplier went on charging me for gas and electricity at my previous address for a year to the tune of £900 - like you I didn't check thing thoroughly enough.

All I can say is keep on at both supplier's complaints' departments - it's no good talking to the general call centre people as they have no power to put anything right - and if you get nowhere you can take it to the energy ombudsman. It doesn't sound legal to put in a metre that you or no other company can read.

Good luck.

samandi Wed 19-Mar-14 11:08:50

Did British Gas not advise you that you wouldn't be able to switch over once the smart meters were installed? A quick Google and you would have known that.

If British Gas didn't tell you you wouldn't be able to switch, they were being unreasonable.

If your new energy company said there wouldn't be a problem with the new meter, they were/are being unreasonable.

But you were still being unreasonable not to look into it before having the smart meters installed.

unhappyenergycustomer Wed 19-Mar-14 11:13:39

Samandi - no-one told me this, BG just rang and said they were installing new smart metres for free. I had no reason to google as they said part of initiative to get everyone on smart metres, given existing metres can be read by anyone I didn't think it would only be able to be read by one energy supplier, after all the hassle with the new supplier last year I had no idea this was still a problem.

How are energy companies allowed to install a metre which means only they can read it....this removes competition and basically gives them a monopoly?

Am feeling I am going to be fighting a losing battle on this one...

samandi Wed 19-Mar-14 11:14:54

Did the new energy company say they could read it manually?

samandi Wed 19-Mar-14 11:16:47

Well, I definitely agree that was poor of British Gas. Not sure about legality.

I gather the government are looking to make sure smart meters can be read by any supplier, but because they're still quite new I don't know exactly where we're at with that.

unhappyenergycustomer Wed 19-Mar-14 11:18:02

When they came out to get someone to read it, he couldn't read it, the only metre reading they have had to date is one that BG gave them for February when we switched over. I can't remember exactly what our final converation was last year but the impression I was given was that it was all sorted.

samandi Wed 19-Mar-14 11:18:20

Up until now, those getting a smart meter installed ahead of the national roll-out in 2015 who later wanted to switch gas and electricity providers, may have had to have their meter switched to 'dumb' mode, in effect reversing their move to smart metering, or have their smart meter replaced with a traditional-style meter altogether.

more info here:

http://www.which.co.uk/energy/creating-an-energy-saving-home/guides/smart-meters-and-energy-monitors-explained/what-is-a-smart-meter/

samandi Wed 19-Mar-14 11:19:26

Hmm. Well in that case I really don't understand how it can be legal for them to provide you with electricity/gas when they haven't got a working meter at the property.

samandi Wed 19-Mar-14 11:21:43

Might be worth contacting Ofgem?

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/supporting-effective-switching-domestic-customers-smart-meters-modification-supply-licence-standard-conditions?docid=81&refer=Markets/sm/metering/sm

samandi Wed 19-Mar-14 11:24:50

http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk/ofgem-complaint-british-gas-misleading-customers-on-smart-meters/

unhappyenergycustomer Wed 19-Mar-14 11:26:15

Thanks Samandi, that is what BG told me when I was speaking to them last year, that if the new supplier can't read it they are supplying unregistered gas and electric which is illegal.

I am intending to report this to Ofgem but going to see what they say when they send someone out this week....

Many thanks

EverythingsDozy Wed 19-Mar-14 11:37:13

That seems really strange. Have I got this right?
Neither you or they can read it manually. They can't read it remotely?

Where are your gas readings? Are they just floating in the ether not knowing whether they are coming or going?

PartialFancy Wed 19-Mar-14 11:38:24

1) Make complaints IN WRITING to both utility companies, as they both sound at fault. Follow the complaints procedures for each, which you should find on their company websites.

2) If your complaint has not been finally resolved (not just started, but resolved) within 8 weeks, you can take it to the energy ombudsman: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/domestic-consumers/making-enquiry-or-complaint

If you state in your initial complaints to the companies that you intend to escalate to the ombudsman after 8 weeks, you will probably find they pull their fingers out and you don't have to.

But this sounds like an issue that may affect lots of people, so please do take it to the ombudsman if you're not completely satisfied all is resolved after 8 weeks. You'd be doing everyone a favour.

unhappyenergycustomer Wed 19-Mar-14 11:50:36

Everything....it is possible that they can now read this in person, they weren't able to read this a year ago when they first came out but then there were tooings and froings with BG and they said they could operate the metre, maybe what they meant is they can read it like a standard metre now but they haven't been out since.

I can't read it though...the display doesn't show me a reading.

Thanks Partial, I will do that.

Braganza Wed 19-Mar-14 11:52:21

So because of the mix up with meter readings, you haven't paid for any gas for 18 months - is that right?

They're unreasonable to blame you, but you would be unreasonable not to pay, or at least discuss some payment plan. What outcome do you want?

unhappyenergycustomer Wed 19-Mar-14 11:55:10

No Braganza I have been paying by DD for the past year but based on the estimated readings the DD was too low and so has clocked up �1,000 backlog of amount owed, I can't believe it is right as that would be an underpayment of nearly �100 a month (my DD is �60) so I think they have massively over-estimated (I hope) but it is the fact that I can't get an accurate bill at the moment as I can't read my metre (and I don't think they will be able to when they come out).

BreconBeBuggered Wed 19-Mar-14 11:57:47

So, if you've been continuing to pay the direct debit, and the new company can't read the meter, why do they think you owe them all that money? They can't expect you to cough up because of some wild estimate, surely?

unhappyenergycustomer Wed 19-Mar-14 12:00:27

That is exactly what it is at the moment Brecon - they have estimated readings for the last year and reckon I owe them �1k...they say they only have to read your metre once every 2 years and they have a reading from last February.

They are sending someone out. But if their estimates are correct I owe a shed load....and can they just expect me to cough up now?

PartialFancy Wed 19-Mar-14 12:04:58

The utilities may focus their replies to your complaints on "How to pay" or "We could amend the estimate."

Don't bite.

Keep them focussed on "Who is even reading my meters? How do you intend to read them?"

TheGirlFromIpanema Wed 19-Mar-14 12:14:31

I think you would need to demostrate that you couldn't be realistically expected to notice the difference between your payments and usage to get anywhere with an ofgem complaint.

Is the £1000 only a small percentage of your usage OP? If so I would be complaining loudly to both companies to try and get it reduced smile

unhappyenergycustomer Wed 19-Mar-14 12:17:56

TheGirl - the problem is I have no idea what my useage is because I can't read my metre as it is a smart metre and at the moment I am not even convinced I can. I pay �60 a month gas on DD so for last year it would be �720 but they reckon I owe another �1000 on top which would mean my useage has gone up by over 100% or the prices have....none of it stacks up.

PartialFancy Wed 19-Mar-14 12:20:07

Like that. ^^

The amount is secondary to the fact that no one has, or can take, a meter reading.

Time enough to haggle about amounts when there's a real reading.

PartialFancy Wed 19-Mar-14 12:20:44

(x-post)

GrandadGrumps Wed 19-Mar-14 12:22:29

I think you're missing something here.

If they've never read your meter and they're still unable to read it then they can only possibly be billing you based on estimated readings.

The direct debit payments your making are based on their initial estimate of your usage.

As they haven't read your meter then their current estimate of your usage can only be based on the same figures as their original estimate - in fact your usage should be lower because of the mild winter.

How then can they now estimate, based on no information whatsoever, that your actual usage is £1,000 more than they originally estimated it would be? If they're now estimating your usage at this higher level then why did they set your DD payments at a lower level?

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