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Metric gas meters: are you due a refund?

Metric meter

The old metric vs. imperial debate is one that refuses to die down. It’s emerged yet again this week after it was revealed that E.on gas customers have been paying inaccurate bills due to misread metric gas meters…

Reading your meter is one of those annoying little tasks that crops up every few months. You get a short letter or email asking for your information so that your energy supplier can ‘provide you with an accurate bill’. So, off you go in search of the funny plastic key (if you have one) to open the box and take a look.

At least once you’ve put your reading in – something I now do via an app – that’s pretty much it. My energy supplier then turns my meter reading into a bill, and what I get is an accurate amount to pay. Job done.

Except this isn’t what’s been happening for thousands of energy customers.

Misread gas meters

Thousands of people have been over-charged for their gas because, unbelievably, the wrong units of measurement were being used. Customers had their old imperial measuring meters swapped out for metric ones, but E.on still read them as though they were in cubic feet rather than cubic metres.

One person had been overpaying for over 15 years without knowing it! On the flip side, others were found to have been underpaying by as much as 65%.

So far the mix up has been attributed to ‘human error’ on the part of the energy companies.

Ofgem has given all energy suppliers until Friday to identify other customers who may have been affected, calling on suppliers to issue refunds for overcharging.

Trust in the energy market

Whichever way you cut it, it’s not a boon for confidence in the energy market that expensive mistakes like this are getting made. It’s probably not surprising that Which? research has found people generally distrust energy suppliers.

That’s not to say the response has been all bad. E.on has announced that it will be offering a refund to those affected plus interest, and are waiving the extra charges for those who’ve underpaid.

This is exactly the kind of good treatment of customers that we’d like to see more of.

Following on from the Competition and Markets Authority’s two year energy inquiry, we think now’s time to start rebuilding trust in the energy market. Energy companies should improve their behaviour and deliver on the CMA’s remedies as quickly and effectively as possible.

Do you know if you’ve been affected by the metric gas meter misreadings? If so, how did you find out and what help have you been offered to fix the problem?

Comments
Judith Mitchell says:
23 August 2016

We have a gas meter installed in 2003 so I would think it is a modern style one. We are with First Utility and have been very satisfied with the service received. Downside is you are asked to read your meters every month and submit the reading. However, the company is holding quite a large credit balance supposedly to cover any deficit in the monthly payments in the winter period. However, like most other companies these balances are quite excessive and more than cover any likely deficit. Sometimes it pays to swap companies to get hold of the cash!

Reading your meter monthly is sensible and should, normally, ensure your direct debits are eventually adjusted so you don’t pay too much, or end up in significant deficit. My current supplier has a lower summer charge and a higher one in winter. Some might prefer this, others might prefer to build up a summer credit to avoid bigger winter payments.

Energy UK have investigated this problem and issued a statement including this:
“This is not a problem that affects one company in particular. Industry has worked hard to identify customers involved to make sure no-one is adversely affected by these unfortunate mistakes.
• People affected will be contacted directly by their supplier;
• Suppliers will repay any overcharging, including an appropriate interest payment;
• In some cases, it may also be appropriate to make an ex gratia payment;
• Energy companies will not seek repayment from customers who have been undercharged;
• Where appropriate, suppliers may provide support for undercharged customers in vulnerable circumstances to help ease the transition to accurate bills.
How are we putting things right?
Compensation
Where accounts are live on a supplier’s system this will be a straightforward process. People do not have to do anything and will be contacted and compensated by the end of October. However there will be closed accounts where it is more difficult to track down affected customers. Companies will use their best endeavours to make sure everyone who has been affected is compensated as quickly as possible.
If a customer is concerned, they should contact their energy provider or get in touch with Citizens Advice. ”

energy-uk.org.uk/publication.html?task=file.download&id=5862

Less than 11000 out of 23 million customers are affected.

“It’s probably not surprising that Which? research has found people generally distrust energy suppliers.”
“This is exactly the kind of good treatment of customers that we’d like to see more of.”
I prefer the latter comment in this case. From E.ON self-reporting on 15th Aug to Energy UK reaching a conclusion today seems OK to me.

anthony hall says:
24 August 2016

we went metric over 30 years ago. you mean the Gas Companies owe us thousands?

Loopy lou says:
1 September 2016

I switched suppliers 2 years ago and our first annual bill, where they make the adjustments to your monthly payment was very excessive compared to previous years. I rang to question this and they advised to have our boiler checked for any problems. No problems were found with the boiler or the meter and we had to accept the huge monthly price increase. The same thing happened this year so I rang to ask why and they said they would look in to it. 2 days later the news broke that companies had been using the wrong conversion rates. After doing a lot of research it turns out that my supplier has indeed been charging me as imperial when it should be metric. I contacted them and gave them all my workings out and they still haven’t provided me with a suitable reply. I shall be ringing them again tomorrow to demand my refund. I am appalled that they never picked up on this last year when I first raised the issue with them.

Geoff Butcher says:
3 November 2016

I’m changing energy supply from Co-operative energy and I’ve just discovered that our gas meter is recording in cu ft, but Co-op have been taking the readings as being cu metres. This has been going on for years so potentially I have a big deficit in my payments.
I’m not happy, to say the least.

Further to my previous comment: I was afraid that the Co-op’s error might delay the transfer of my account so I sent them an email to report it. As far as I know the changeover is going ahead on Monday but I have had an email back fro the Co-op asking me to email them a photo of my gas meter. My feeling is “It’s your mistake, if you want to see my meter send someone to look at it.” I don’t see why I should have to do their work for them – suppose I did not have the means to do this anyway?
Am I unreasonable?

You could email them the meter serial number if you can’t photograph it, but why not help them with the information they need. Just because it is an old meter that records in cubic feet does not mean you have been charged incorrectly. They a will do the appropriate conversion if they know what sort of meter you have. The problem was that some meters were not recorded properly with some energy companies.

Mohammed Shuaib Sheikh says:
29 December 2016

I felt that my gas bill was consistently high. So I paid for and had it checked. It turned out to be correct. Having read the confusion between Metric and Imperial meters I wonder if my high bills were due to the confusion between Imperial and Metric meters.

Christine says:
18 March 2017

WOW…Only just read this after email from Which about care homes..another story….I have been fighting BG for over 4 years now because I noticed my gas bills had more than trebled the electric,, gas was a qtr of electric bills 10 or 11 years ago when I left edf electric and had both gas/electric with BG…I am 68 live in my bedroom, upstairs, I never have heating on in bedroom for more than 1/2 hours a day in very cold, many days I just wrap up warm, with hot water bottle, to frightened to turn heating on because bills so high, I only shower maybe once a week, have no washing up to do, maybe only once a week, washing machine once fortnight and my bills are quarterly between £200 summer and nearly £400 winter…I have asked so many times for gas meter (outside) to be checked but told would cost me about £80!!!! 2 Meter readers have said needs “Callabrating” last year, even said he would read meter as it should be read, and my bill was only about £24 for gas…I have been pushing harder for this to be looked at in 18 months, had made complaints, given ref no’s…but they just email a load of nonsense, don’t reply to emails, takes hours on phone to try to get something done, then last year they said would put in smart meters and give me £20 goodwill gesture, (now £40) I refused, saying I didnt want smart meters but they turned up on 20/12/16 fitted outside gas smart meter, after I had emailed/phoned them saying I dont want smart meters,theytook away my old gas meter, installled electric smart meter downstairs, but left without telling me or showing me what to do, BG said can’t do anything now as old gas meter had been taken away!!!! The 3rd smart meter gas charges since 20/12/16 were , saying Units used over 56 days , 167 calorific value 39.1, then gas units converted into kHw = 1854.87 khw x 3.89…plus daily standing charge 24.77 per day plus VAT just for gas…Electric 393 khw x12.58 daily charge 24.77 plus vat £65.28…cheap…others were £256.44 14/1/17 …£190.99 20/12/16…£221.05…I have been watching this smart monitor, it has been saying I only use about £1.50 a day at the most gas and electric,,,then says gas daily cost £9.03 weekly, £60.03 monthly £107…electric the same, .said needs new smart meters upgrade as something wrong…. now had supposed email, 23/2/17, they now sent letter, saying my smart meters were now working correctly , they were getting my meter readings!!!!would close my complaint on 9/3/17 and so sorry for distress, time inconvenience, please accept £40 ….for my troubles…GGGrrrr…as you can see im not good with words or explaining things….then after 2 days and 8 hours on phone, finally a man rang and said, feet and cubic meters etc, don’t need my smart monitor, I could go online and read everything clearer!!!!said…not good with computers…hesaid …its easy and much better clearer for me to see what I am using….Sorry about rant…make any sense?? any advice?? Thank you x

I hope you received the long long post I made above….Thanks

There doesn’t seem to be a comment in your name, Cad, in this Conversation. Are you sure you posted it to this particular topic?

John, I think Cad might be Christine as the avatars are the same. Just part of the confusion when people don’t log in and use multiple names.

Yes, Alfa – well spotted. I agree about logging-in consistently.

darren says:
30 March 2018

Scottish Power have charged me £250 for a final bill of a property I moved out of in Feb 2016. Surely this can not be right? any views?

Its not so easy to answer you Darren , before you move out you take a FINAL meter reading and on that basis your bill should be based on. Are you talking about “back billing ” where they look up records from years ago and if they find THEY made a mistake then they bill you ? That can be challenged contact the Citizens Advice and if no joy the Energy Ombudsman. You are not alone many in the same boat. Trading Standards can also help , one guy sent a letter to them claiming persecution under the Protection from Harassment Act- 1997 and got a big reduction. The general consensus is dont pay up but challenge them.

darren, the recent ruling by Ofgem may help you: “Ofgem is banning suppliers from backbilling customers for energy used more than 12 months ago.” However, it doesn’t come into effect yet: “The new rule on backbilling will come into effect at the beginning of May for domestic consumers”.
https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/ofgem-bans-suppliers-backbilling-customers-beyond-12-months

I had to start laughing malcolm believe it or not but your GOVERNMENT URL has tracking on it , even they are “at it ” .

Myra L says:
24 May 2018

Today. Had a call from E.ON to say why was i leaving them. i had been called by Scots Power to see if they could beat my prices E.ON charged and was also informed that they had been voted the best Customer Services, by Which? I’d joined Which? but have only just been able to log in with the help of one of your Team as it didn’t recognise my email/password etc. I tried several times with Barry’s help and finally got online. Accessed E.ON to get my earlier Bills to get my Kwh usage only to find they are closing my account and I cannot access anything. Now I find they are going to charge me £30 per electricity and £30 gas for closing my account. Which I hadn’t agreed to yet. Scots Power had already informed them I would be changing over to them Yet I had insisted to Scots Power, I needed to check with Which?’s “Best supplier”. I have since found out that it would be Octopus Energy which is the one I would have been changing to. Now I don’t know what to do. As E.ON will be cutting me off in FIVE days. It’s bad enough not having any hot water at all due to my boiler being unrepairable. So much for Customer Service from E.ON and also Scots Power.

I left e.on last year because despite having smart meters they kept me with a significant credit balance. e.on has not closed my account and I can see bills back from 2016 when I started the contract. I think you will need to speak to e.on customer services. Incidentally, I used to be with Scottish Power and they were very disappointing, once nearly doubling my direct debit without even sending an email, and when my account was well in credit. I am now a happy customer with Ovo – a company that will pay me if my account is in credit. I hope you get sorted out soon, Myra.

Myra-Scottish Power will have a recording of your conversation , if you made it plain that you weren’t wanting to transfer to them until you had made up your mind then Scottish Power are legally liable for your trouble not E.ON . Ask SP to prove to you you wanted transferred to them as telephone calls can invoke a contract nowadays. If SP are under the assumption you are moving to them you better stop that quickly by speaking to somebody in authority there . If you are wanting to move to Octopus Energy have a word with them they might give you free advice on your situation because ,as it stands , you are now a SP customer. If you dont have a power supplier your power can be under threat .

Patricia Simmons says:
8 June 2018

Scottish Power say I owe them £327.81? I had to leave my home due to redevelopment in December 2015
and went into rented accommodation. I paid my bill by Direct Debit monthly and at the time of leaving property my 40 year old gas boiler had stopped working, so good timing to go. Whenever I received a text from Scottish Power saying it was time to read my meters, I would pop back to site, take photos of the meters and send in my readings always on time, yet the bills sent after moving out were always ESTIMATED? The readings did not move because the energy supplies were not used/disconnected by builder, for safety. On numerous occasions I have been in contact with Scottish Power, sent them contact details of my builder, council planning dept, architect, surveyor and pictures – but they have ignored all my attempts and in 2016 put a debt collector onto me. I sent the debt collector paperwork and they stopped pursuing me. A year has passed and last week I had a bill again stating I owed money and they are now again threatening me with sending my details to a debt collector and say it will affect my credit in the future. I have again sent them a ‘Recorded Delivery’ letter on 2 June with contacts and photos etc. In 2016 I also invited Scottish Power and the previous debt collector to come on site but neither replied? In my letter of the 2nd June I have now asked Scottish Power to reply with PROOF they have made contact with the companies I supplied. Please can someone kindly advise me what I need to do now, should I go to a small claims court?

I waited about three hours to see if other posters would answer you Patricia so I dont want criticised for lacking information . You have gone through all the correspondence between parties that are feasible to you, a small claims court action is usually for debt owed to you in one form or another not for fighting an action against you which would mean , if you are poor of making use of Legal Aid but at the very least its time to consult a lawyer even if its just for advice as a lawyers letter will force them to supply proof you owe them money. Remember , if you win your case court costs will be awarded to you against them , but at least get it started dont wait any longer.

Robert walker says:
1 July 2018

I pay by direct debit more than the supplier required and have always been in credit.The supplier said I was in debit and took £92 out of my bank account.I checked my account and calculated using my meter readings from the start and to the present time and found that I was in credit to quite a few hundred pounds.This is now in the hands of the Ombudsman.If I this supplier went bankrupt would I lose my money and would it be better to switch.

Read https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/claim-money-back-from-a-bankrupt-person-or-company-in-compulsory-liquidation-guidance-for-creditors/claim-money-back-from-a-bankrupt-person-or-company-in-compulsory-liquidation-guidance-for-creditors Robert . I went through two episodes by two different utilities who “were in the business ” of building up a large bank interest on over-payments taken from me , it took 2 years for one to refund me less than one half of what they had taken . They are “working the system ” – change suppliers AFTER you come to some sort of legal conclusion as leaving halfway through a dispute puts you in a bad position legally as you are no longer their customer.

gail says:
12 July 2018

Have just joined Solarplicity, start date was 1 july. they dont answer my emails/phone calls/FB. It was agreed that they would supply a meter. As i cant get intouch( or should i say they dont answer anything) i cant get the meter put in, so im being charged full pricefor my gas / electric. What can i do about this problem?

Switch a.s.a.p. There are better companies for customer service. You can also complain to the regulator [Ofgem]. Take meter readings every day and keep them.

David Wood says:
8 November 2018

Lucky escape. Try another supplier while you can. They are rubbish at administration. I had 2 letters confirming my switching suppliers but they have still blocked the switch. This is just the last of 3 months of miscommunication and poor customer service.
You are lucky – count your blessings and cut them out.
David Wood

Stuart says:
21 November 2018

E.on changed my meters from prepayment to credit when I opened the account without telling me sent me an estimated bill I despuited the amount as property was empty managing agent emailed them accurate readings asking for an accurate bill but wasn’t received 2 months later I have missed payments showing on my credit so contact E.on again gave readings over phone then they send 4 bills all in a week different amounts Then said ignore all as you owe nothing said they would remove data share but didn’t so back on phone then said your in credit by 5 pounds but we won’t remove the missed payments on your credit file so basically now I can’t get finance to operate my buisness and will be selling up

DDddd7 says:
16 January 2019

My current problem with E.ON is that their Directors are not getting anybody to resolve my issues with too many estimated readings applied to my gas and electric accounts from a previous address, these debts have gone into collection. When I lived at the gas and electric supply address for these accounts I kept having reason to complain to E.ON but E.ON kept sending me standard complaints printouts that didn’t resolve and the energy ombudsman ignored my issues as well.

Linda Percival says:
17 February 2019

I moved into this property in October 2017 and switched to EOn. They asked for £40 per month (it’s a 1 bed flat all electric) which I paid for a year and when my fixed tariff was up contacted them to get a bill which I never had one. They said there was a problem with my readings earlier on in the year when they put a smart meter in. They put me on a new contract and put my DD up to £180. 16 months from joining them I’ve not had a bill but paid what they asked for. When I was paying £40 I couldn’t pay any more money to top up the account “because your account is over £300 in credit”.

Forbury Lion says:
4 March 2019

Enstroga Ltd. gas and electricity supplier. Its phone number for contact is now unobtainable: 0115 857 2572. Has it gone bust?

I don’t know but it has changed its office once in January and twice in February: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09812700/filing-history Hopefully they are waiting for the phone to be connected.

I understand that Ofgem will be doing more to ensure that new energy companies will be vetted more carefully because of the number that have ceased trading and customers have had to move to alternative suppliers.

marie geary says:
21 October 2019

I joined EDF last Oct for my small cafe, I was told by them that my dd would be £324 a month which was fine. Then In January of this year I received a letter from them saying that my payments were going down to £222 a month. This amount carried out being taken until July this year when they sent me a bill informing me that they would be taking £3139 by dd the next week! Obviously I contacted them and to cut a long story short they have reduced by dd in error and set up the wrong dd to begin with however the only compensated me with knocking off £139 from the huge debt! I have contacted the ombudsman and have got nowhere with them as OFGEM state that as long as the correct dd was requested within the 12 months then effectively they have done nothing wrong! I have appealed the decision twice and now that is the end of it and the matter as far as the ombudsman is closed. Also my dd going forward has increased from £222 a month to £620! (£85 of this is to pay back the debt) does anyone have any experience of this happening to them? and what did they do about it.