So for those of you who have yet to have a smart meter my advice today is to make sure you do read meters regularly. In the past we would have our meters read few times a year by our energy suppliers -no longer the case. Most of us have the budget accounts and the onus is on us to read meters to raise bills. I am still surprised how few people realise that the energy suppliers are not entitled to keep large build up of credit and should refund monies to customers.
OK I hold my hands up; whereas we used to read meters religiously/quarterly I left mine longer this time -though mindful due to this lovely weather and longer colder period all our winter heating bills will be heavier this year as will electricity with so many of us working from home. I was surprised however when I submitted my readings on line that the usual online system of a bill being produced hadn’t happened. I kept checking for a few days and eventually entered into the realms of the ‘online chat room’ wherein I had to insist that a bill be raised. I was advised ‘we only do them once a year now!’ Reluctance was the order of the day but I persisted being told it would take 24 hours to be available.
OK -next part of the saga. When I printed off the six months bill it had been split into two parts both for Gas and Electricity as I had changed tariff -fair enough. I hold my hands up again as I perhaps should have read my meters at the end of the old tariff….an error on my part I now see. (Hey I don’t think I have ever done that and looking back should have). In the circumstances my energy supplier have decided to guess my usage for both periods and opting to use the higher previous tariff to bill me for a higher percentage of the bill. I can see that there is no way they can know what my actual usage is nor neither can I prove otherwise. (OK except roughly based on previous years usage if one had submitted quarterly)
So my advice, and after, reporting this strange/unfair practice to Which to investigate and the Ombudsman we can all agree that perhaps many consumers may open themselves up to being overcharged in this way. I am choosing my words carefully here as I am in the middle of a continued complaint. Even the Ombudsman suggested companies will use the onus on customers reading meters as their get out clause.
So please be aware, check and submit readings regularly and definitely read meters as one tariff ends and another starts especially if the newer tariff is a better deal. I did take time to report this as I fear there are many elderly/vulnerable people who may not have access to the internet and may find the new practices of energy suppliers daunting and confusing to say the least. I am sure Martin the money man would be questioning some of these new practices being used with energy suppliers. Maybe smart meters is the safer bet.