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  1. #1
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    The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Not so long ago, I made the idiotic decision to have smart meters installed as I assumed I needed to keep up with technology and that the transition would be 'seamless'. All seemed well back in May when a Utility Warehouse engineer came out and hey presto I had clever meters. I was issued with a quaint but rather clunky 'in house' display that would be the answer to all my prayers apparently.

    Though in reality, it merely told me what I already knew. That appliances that generate heat i.e tumble dryers, kettles etc use more electric. Anyway fast forward to me allowing the gas meter to run down to zero credit. The resultant engineer duly called and advised me not to let this happen, as a device inside the gas meter shuts off the gas supply. This requires an engineer to attend as I can confirm.

    Anyway, this replacement gas smart meter seemed to do the trick and the credit I'd had on the original one was transferred. This credit lasted a couple of weeks and when I saw it getting low, I went on to the very handy app to top up straight from my bank account. However, while the top ups were exiting my bank account, they were not appearing on my gas meter.

    So I got onto British Gas (who I'd gone over to from UW) to ask why my gas meter wasn't topping up. The agent in chat said my meter wasn't being recognised by their system because it hadn't been commissioned, and that once it had, I would be able to top up. 'But what if it gets down to zero?' I asked, 'the meter will cut off my supply'. 'Oh no it won't' said the advisor, 'your gas supply will be uninterrupted'.

    Cue the next day and we had no gas. So out came another engineer who fitted a dumb meter because it was the only one he had. I said 'Can I keep it dumb?' and told him about all the trouble. He said it was fine.

    So today I went to the shop and asked for credit to be put on my dumb card. Back home, in the slot and all done. End of story? Not quite, as the electric meter is now not registering the credit I put on there via the app. So will try to speak to a human tomorrow at British Gas, a challenge in itself as I'm constantly pointed towards either 'chat' or FAQs.

    I'm wondering if the problem is being on prepayment meters rather than quarterly, though being financially challenged we find them more convenient. When they work of course.
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  2. #2
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Dumb means no smart features so your tops ups aren't going to work and the meter is operating like a credit meter (in a sense).

    Commissioning will set it up on the network. This means it will work with your monitor as well as the supplier and their features such as the top up app.

    Your payments will hit the supplier end but just sit there. They will pay your gas usage to them so your account at their end looks fine but because your meter can't communicate to anything they can't send your payments back.

    There is a possibility that by 'dumb' he fitted an old style pre smart meter. Those won't shut off unless done manually. What make & model is it? Was it prepayment before updating to smart? If so, I would have to check on shutdown (can't remember). Certainly in elec that never happened and a new tenant meant a new charging device was issued but with gas there is a safety concern too.

    As to the previous issues, if you are topping up to the supplier but the meter isn't updating it could be things ranging from hardware fault to the supplier not linking the correct customer ID.

    Edit: if you use a top device that is inserted into a shop device the supplier can send the credit back that way but you would need to access the shop device again to then take it back to your meter and swipe it. But I'm thinking he's fit a non smart meter and not commissioned it. This will mean another engineer coming out.

    Will credit from the shop hit the meter? If it will you can carry on and the supplier can sort the missed payments and update it to your end. Bare in mind to do this they have to update your account on their billing system with the meter change, usage and payments or else it will still be messed up at their end. They will have Bern informed of the meter change but if a billing system can't update it automatically it goes off to admin teams which may mean a time delay due to backlogs.
    Last edited by MyNameIsTerry; 13-09-21 at 23:05.
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  3. #3
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Emergency credit:

    https://www.britishgas.co.uk/help-an...ergency-credit

    How to start your PP meter if it shuts down due to running out of credit:

    https://www.britishgas.co.uk/help-an...-pay-as-you-go

    Also see this the part lower down about transferring credit.
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  4. #4
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Terry, thank you so much for going to all that trouble on my behalf. You really are a top bloke. I have been on to them again today and it turns out my smart meters are different to BG ones. Those prepayment meters in the pictures there have A and B buttons, mine don't, only 'OK' and what I think is a return key. So I think the problems have come via changing from UW over to BG but not entirely.

    Anyway I've asked to get rid of the prepayment meters altogether and go with regular meters and pay fortnightly or monthly. My Dad has smart meters and hasn't had any problems. With prepayment you don't get any kind of buffer zone if something goes wrong, unless you put large amounts of credit on. I had asked for an engineer and it was going to be 19th October when there is 13 on the meter.
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  5. #5
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Why is everything so complicated these days? So frustrating for you, Fishman..I really don't like British Gas.

  6. #6
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Quote Originally Posted by pulisa View Post
    Why is everything so complicated these days? So frustrating for you, Fishman..I really don't like British Gas.
    You want to see it from the other side, it's such a complicated industry. Things go wrong in large volumes daily. Armies of staff in backbilling depts struggling to keep up.

    BGas were dreadful when they entered the elec industry as they had no experience. It was so much different to gas. They caused tons of industry problems with messy data that passed onto new suppliers when people switched. Elec metering is far more complex than gas.
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  7. #7
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    No problem, it's the industry I used to work in so I'll help if I can.

    If that dumb gas meter is a non smart meter (the old meters we always had before smart came along) then they will have to change that to a smart meter via a visit. Basically, they have to do it all again.

    One thing to be very careful with here is that your bills match what they have done. Each meter change has to show on your bills or they will never line up. So many meter changes in close succession can cause problems due to automation errors (it will error out to a report if something won't go through e.g. estimated readings are higher than meter removal readings. Then it's in the staff backlog) and manual errors (like the person you spoke to who didn't understand the basics of smart PP gas metering) can mean people mess things up.

    So, check your bills show each meter change and make sure your money paid in cancels it out. If not, something is wrong.

    You should have a change in meter with closing/start readings showing on a bill before you left UW. It will look like when they change your tariff but you will notice the meter number has changed. Then on your first BGas bill it should show that meter you left UW on. If that all looks ok it shows that meter change was done on your account. Then do the same looking for the dumb meter change and then again later to check the new meters you are having are showing.

    Because there are a couple of meter changes in play it can slow things down. However, you changed supplier so that one should have been done by UW staff on your account with them. BGas just would have been told of the current meter at the property when you switched. Now BGas will update that dumb meter and go from there with your request to change.

    Changing your meter shouldn't affect then doing their job. They can book it all in and once done by the engineer they will receive the details to close the old meter and open the new one on your account.

    If you want to be safe, check the reading on the meter the day the guy comes. That way you can make a note of the end reading of the meter coming out and start reading of the one going in. A photo would be even better. Meter change readings go wrong a lot in these industries.

    Is it the first time you have tried to top up your elec meter? Therefore the same problem as with the gas one? If so either UW didn't commission the meters (I'm assuming you had a PP with credit on before and the engineer transferred that over for you and you didn't need to top up until you switched?) or if you could top up on UW with the new meters, just not BGas, then BGas have messed something up in the set up. They have to update the meter with the new tariff info and their supplier info.

    For years smart meters defaulted to dumb metering when you switched but the move from SMETSI to SMETSII has solved that problem. So, I would think your meters were the latter and supportable by other suppliers.
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  8. #8
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Quote Originally Posted by pulisa View Post
    Why is everything so complicated these days? So frustrating for you, Fishman..I really don't like British Gas.
    My dad believes that sometimes these things might be deliberately engineered to cause people maximum inconvenience and/or to deliberately rip people off.

    He believes it's all about profiteering and self-interests.

  9. #9
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Quote Originally Posted by Lencoboy View Post
    My dad believes that sometimes these things might be deliberately engineered to cause people maximum inconvenience and/or to deliberately rip people off.

    He believes it's all about profiteering and self-interests.
    Too right Lenco - these organisations don't do anything for the benefit of paying customers - more like for their own convenience and money-raking.

    I refuse to have a Smart Meter - don't want them monitoring what/when/how I am using gas or elec and having the power to arbitrarily shut down supply for whatever nefarious reasons they cook up. Also an excuse to stop issuing quarterly bills, firing the old guys that used to come round to do meter reading, and forcing people to open yet another online user account giving them access to more of one's private details than they should have!

    Just more 'data-gathering' at their convenience ... and the public are unwittingly doing their work for them!
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  10. #10
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    Re: The Continuing Saga of the Smart Meters

    Quote Originally Posted by dorabella View Post
    Too right Lenco - these organisations don't do anything for the benefit of paying customers - more like for their own convenience and money-raking.

    I refuse to have a Smart Meter - don't want them monitoring what/when/how I am using gas or elec and having the power to arbitrarily shut down supply for whatever nefarious reasons they cook up. Also an excuse to stop issuing quarterly bills, firing the old guys that used to come round to do meter reading, and forcing people to open yet another online user account giving them access to more of one's private details than they should have!

    Just more 'data-gathering' at their convenience ... and the public are unwittingly doing their work for them!
    That started happening out of the 1998 project. Some of this isn't really new.

    For instance, there were already some meters that could remote change but signals were sent via the shop tills to your key, card, etc. Meter readers were cut down through privatisation.

    It's just that smart takes it a step further.

    Something to consider is the months you might wait for your billing problems to be sorted out by your supplier. They might have to send engineers out (separate companies) to bring back details of the label which the industry dictates can't be provided by customers. Or maybe more readings. One of many problems caused by not being able to see what is physically on site. Smart resolves lots of this. But people want to keep being inconvenienced and make complaints over delays & backlogs?

    I think smart is a good thing. Anyone who has ever worked in this industry would say the same. The exception being how it will cut down on jobs for staff who visit sites. The ability to shutdown will save suppliers money (And customers) but reduce engineer visits. It's not all about clamping down on unpaid bills. Another loss is meter readers, both scheduled and booked, to make checks on meters (that goes for engineers too as suppliers send tons out every year just to read a label...you pay for that you know). There will still be engineers and meter readers but just like any automation some poor sods will lose out.

    But then why complain your bills are too high and refuse Smart? It's not all about wholesale prices. I've worked on efficiency programmes ranging into the hundreds of millions of pounds. Smart provides extra data to save more money. Of course, suppliers will always try to hide that from you but it won't be as easy since smart quite glaringly points to certain benefits e.g. saving a fortune on sending expensive engineers just to read a label.

    Business have been using meters that do some of this for many years. Ever heard of half hourly metering? Readings every half hour.

    Quarterly billing has developed further e.g. monthly billing which was previously reserved for business customers, but it still means readings. If you disagree with not sending a meter reader out, and do you know just how many can't get in to read them (customers don't want to take a day off work unless it's really needed), the issue isn't with smart but privatisation where that all stopped in favour if industry rules that relaxed this.

    These companies already existed. They just split from each other in 1998 which meant a load more processes to send data between them. It was such a mess, I remember my years dealing with the fallout, and much of that came from nationalisation before it. New companies came in bringing untrained new staff to an industry with staff not understanding the new processes, many of them involved in the big change.

    Suppliers will also lose staff from smart since billing issues will be more resolvable in quicker times.

    One big customer complaint was switching between quarterly billed (DD or receipt of bill payment) to prepayment and vice versa. Suppliers started charging. But the got charged per visit. The con was suppliers adding profit on. I hated this as I knew just how little the work cost to the supplier. No excuse for this with smart when a few button presses will do it remotely.
    Last edited by MyNameIsTerry; 21-09-21 at 06:34.
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    For free Mindfulness resources, please see this thread I have created to compile many sources together http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=168689

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