/ Home & Energy

Have any utility providers ever overcharged you?

smart meter

Earlier this week, some SSE customers found their smart meters were overestimating their bills by up to £33,000 for a day’s power. Thousands is laughable, but would you notice if you were overcharged by a few pounds here and there?

When I started to rent a new flat early last year, I went through the usual process of setting up new direct debits and payments for utilities.

Council tax was dizzingly cheaper in this London borough than it had been in my last, energy seemed reasonable enough, and broadband offered a great deal through a ‘refer a friend’ promotion.

But establishing our water bill didn’t run so smoothly.

High water rates

When we moved in, we got sent a water bill for £552 for the year.

This struck us as higher than normal, but we weren’t immediately confident it was incorrect.

We were doing a bit of digging into what we had paid in other rented accommodation to make sure when, shortly after we got the first bill, a second arrived through our letter box.

That stated that our bill was £630.24 for the year.

We called the next day to query what was going on.

The water company conceded that this was quite a lot of water. Turns out it was being measured at 15 times more than a six-person household!

For the amount water used, the water company said there was either a fault somewhere its side or a sizeable leak.

It added that someone in our block of flats would have also reported a leak that size by now and that it had actually tried to contact the previous tenant of our flat, to no avail.

Solving the riddle

We arranged to have a technician visit the property to investigate and, in the meantime, started paying £46 per month for the £552 per year bill.

Our water meter is located on the high street, together with the meter of the flat above, and an Italian café.

Upon inspection (we had to turn the taps on and off in the flat several times while the technician observed the meters), it transpired what had happened: we’d been paying our water bill for the café and they’d been paying ours.

The technician took out a marker pen and wrote down the flat numbers on each of the pipes, leaving the café’s free, so that the mistake couldn’t be made again.

Eventually, we got a revised bill for our flat of £225, in nine £25 monthly payments.

And, because we’d already paid £92 and have a goodwill gesture of £50 on our account for the inconvenience, we’re currently £66.67 in credit.

Getting smart

As the technology to record our utilities use gets smarter, would you have the confidence to challenge it if you thought it was wrong?

Of course, the thousands of pounds’ worth of energy that some SSE customers were estimated as using is so clearly an error. But what about if it’s between a few pounds and, say, £30? Would you notice?

Have you ever challenged a utilities bill? What happened?

Comments
Member

I am glad Which has made this a Convo , I have stated at length on another convo what is happening in the USA as regards “smart meters ” of both energy and water and that it is occurring in this country now due to government policy , as per the US , of the whole of Britain being supplied with these meters . You are told – they are “perfect ” -they never lie/go wrong Rubbish ! you are being led up the garden path but they wont admit they are liable to infiltration of various sorts , but the truth will out . This is part of the ongoing “future world ” project of total Internet communication, the problem is , as the latest Wikileaks report states , everybody and the their dog can access “smart ” Internet connected equipment and make changes to it and use it to extract data on you so this isn’t a few “faulty ” meters this is a worldwide problem encompassing the IoT , beloved by Globalists.

Member

Unfortunately we cannot rely on the news media for accurate information. From what I saw, the device showing the inflated bill was not the smart meter, it was the separate In-Home Display. The IHD gets its consumption and price data from the meter, but it does not generate the bill. You can still read the kWh from the meter just as with an analogue one.
“Everybody and the their dog can access “smart ” Internet connected equipment”. As regards smart meters, that is true if you know how to crack the military-grade AES128 encryption system between the meter and the IHD. Smart metering is far more secure than normal smart home systems and usually uses a mobile phone link between the house and the billing company, not the internet.

Member

Duncan helped me find this article about a problem encountered in the Netherlands: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170303180139.htm

There is a technical explanation for serious errors in recording energy use. Essentially, they cannot cope with household products that contain electronics that control power. Everything from a phone charger to a LED light bulb does and I remember first encountering this sort of circuitry in a TV back in 1974. I wonder modern electronic electricity meters and smart meters share the same problem. Please could you ask someone to look into this, Melissa?

Anyone with a good old fashioned electricity meter – the large ones with a horizontal rotating disc – should not be a problem.

Member

I’ve known of meters running backwards when solar panels are connected, I wonder if there’s similar reason for that.

I wonder how much everyone has paid for the smart meter development and roll out and was it money well spent.

Member

Stop Smart Meters.org say -£11 Billion -savings = 3%. William .This is money .co.uk say the same . Just checked up -OFCOM state the old revolving disc meters do run backwards with solar panels BUT they confirmed the new digital ones increased the reading. This was also published in the Telegraph with angry solar panel users quoted -Tony Beginn -quote I have been overcharged for Two years.

Member

And this expenditure is being recouped across energy bills irrespective of consumers’ circumstances, so pensioners and benefit recipients are paying for the smart meter roll-out alongside those who have been wealthy enough to install solar panels and who get significantly more money back for what they feed-in to the grid than they would pay if they were buying the same number of units through the grid.

Member

William – The meters that ran backwards were the old electromagnetic type, which could not differentiate between whether electricity was being used or fed in. A friend with a large solar installation had to use electricity heating water to prevent his consumption being negative during the summer months. The fact that meters were not changed to modern electronic ones capable of handling use and feed-in illustrates that our energy companies and the regulator were not on the ball.

Edit: I had not seen Duncan’s post about meters running backwards.

Member

Wavechange – I have a friend who put solar panels on all his rental properties, during the holiday he has to use electric heater (during the summer), had the oven on while he’s in the house etc. to avoid a negative reading.