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Electricity readings

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 magma 16 Sep 2022

another bumbling meter reader seems to have misread my analogue meter.  an overestimation - so may as well pay current prices (27p/kwh) rather than correcting them and paying higher prices in future?

 Hooo 16 Sep 2022
In reply to magma:

I actually pondered this myself. My gas company asked me to take my own reading, so I was wondering if I should bump it up a bit as gas isn't going to get any cheaper.

 Arcturus 16 Sep 2022
In reply to Hooo:

Yes. Another reason not to have a smart meter 

 Nigel Coe 16 Sep 2022
In reply to magma:

So there are still meter readers, eh? We've not had one for at least 6 years.

 Baz P 16 Sep 2022
In reply to magma:

I always put in manual readings online but for the last 9 months they have shown estimated readings on my account. Six months ago they estimated a silly reading which put me £7000 in debit. Four months ago they estimated at around the correct reading which put me at £8400 in credit. Last month I asked for them to refund £9200 to my bank but after a lot of spluttering they told me it would be referred to the tech department. Not heard anything since but I am now £9850 in credit. Looking forward to the winter. 

 birdie num num 16 Sep 2022
In reply to magma:

You need to be quite careful to keep a log of readings each time you put your black box on your meter. With prudent use it's doubtful that you will get caught. Normally it's the folk that get excited and wind it back too far that come a cropper. Don't be to greedy, softly softly 

In reply to Baz P:

I don’t quite have that level of credit, but Octopus pay 3% interest on your money they hold, which is pretty bloody good so am in no rush to reduce my credit level.

In reply to Dr.S at work:

What tariff is that? I don’t get any in credit interest from Octopus Energy and always had credit year round.  Never seen any reference on their website to any interest.

 Pedro50 17 Sep 2022
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Yes I'm curious, overpay and get a better rate than many saver accounts!

 henwardian 17 Sep 2022
In reply to Dr.S at work:

Really? I'm with Octopus and they certainly didn't pay me any interest on the monies they held... are you sure? Maybe it's only for residential customers that they do this...

In reply to henwardian:

Sorry, Ovo not octopus, begins with O….,

 HB1 17 Sep 2022
In reply to Dr.S at work:

and I'd already started writing a letter of protest!

 charliesdad 17 Sep 2022
In reply to magma:

To make a £significant difference to your bill, surely you'd need to over-estimate very significantly indeed; several thousand kwh, not a few hundred. And there's a risk that they believe you, and bump up your direct debit to match this very high level of consumption; my supplier, British Gas, sets the DD and won't allow you to lower it. Cue lots of emails and arguments?

 Moacs 17 Sep 2022
In reply to magma:

True story.  I got a water bill.  I was bit surprised as it's normally about £200 and this one was over £70,000.  I wasn't worried, because it was so clearly an error.

I wandered out into the front garden and read the meter - sure enough it was massively different to the reading they supplied.

Things became less rosy and reassuring when I called them to straighten it out.  I'll spare you the queueing and general difficulty in getting to a person.  Bottom line was "The bill is based on reading by one of our meter readers; it is not possible for it to be incorrect".  The person went on to helpfully advise I check for dripping taps or a leak somewhere.  I pointed out that I could have every tap in the house running full pelt 24/7 and still use only a tiny fraction of the 50,000 m3 they were trying to charge me for 5 months' water.  This cut no ice.  No they couldn't take my reading.  No they wouldn't send another reader out, they had a valid reading.  No there wasn't an escalation route.

After a bit more to-ing and fro-ing I was advised to write a letter of complaint.  This had to be done by post; e-mail or phone complaints aren't, apparently, complaints.

I wrote a letter explaining and sent a photo of the meter.

A while later I got a letter ... a red bill demand.  I called again and asked that they put the chasing process on hold.  Not possible.  But they had my complaint and I should expect a response in a few weeks.

The final demand before legal action prompted me to call again.  No, they had no record of a complaint, nor my previous calls.  I explained the issue once more and resent the complaint recorded delivery.  I also paid the correct amount based on the actual reading.

The next ~six months were spent writing roughly monthly.  The legal threat developed into talk of a court date.  I didn't dare look at my credit rating.  My faith in common sense prevailing was getting eroded a bit.

Finally someone, presumably in their legal team, must have reviewed the file.  They called me.  I explained an nth time; a bit shirtily now.  They wouldn't accept my reading or photo as "the sum is so large".  But, in a breakthrough, we agreed they'd send a new reader out.  I'll cut the fact that they didn't show up first time.  The second time, my neighbour knocked on my door asking if I'd mislaid a meter reader chappie - who was very insistently wanting to read my neighbour's meter but asking neighbour to confirm his name as mine.

I showed the bloke my passport, my bill and my meter - in my front garden, not the neighbour's.  He said, with surprise, that it explained why he couldn't match the serial number on the account.

I got a letter cancelling the legal action and a corrected bill.  No apology, no recompense, no assistance with repairing credit rating...and, of course, no way of chosing an alternate supplier.

"Computer says no" is a very black witchcraft.

 ExiledScot 17 Sep 2022
In reply to magma:

If price is set to rise, over read it. If they are due to fall under read them.

In reply to Moacs:

I used to work replying to billing complaints for a water company. Never phone the call centres, they are useless and have no power to do anything. Find the managing director of your water company’s email address. Send him a long, angry email demanding an apology and compensation for your wasted time. Even an invoice if you’re feeling saucy. I‘ll be *amazed* if they don’t reply with something. Failing to respond to a (written) complaint is something they can get fined for by the regulator. Sounds like that’s already happened to you.

 Jenny C 18 Sep 2022
In reply to magma:

I remember getting an estimated electric bill at work many years ago, that was about £1k less than expected.

Unable to contact by phone and their online system wouldn't accept a postcode that was less than 6 characters. Ended up going through their gas complaints department in the end to speak to a human.

OP magma 18 Sep 2022
In reply to Moacs:

shocking incompetence- make you wonder if it was intentional..

OP magma 18 Sep 2022
In reply to charliesdad:

> To make a £significant difference to your bill, surely you'd need to over-estimate very significantly indeed; several thousand kwh, not a few hundred. And there's a risk that they believe you, and bump up your direct debit to match this very high level of consumption; my supplier, British Gas, sets the DD and won't allow you to lower it. Cue lots of emails and arguments?

well it was 1000kWh misread this time. previous meter reader last year also misread but by a smaller amount so estimates since then have been over as well. if next reader reads correctly, he will find the meter has gone back since last reading. hmm..

Post edited at 11:46
In reply to magma:

Years ago when I lived in a flat with economy 7, the meter reader came and wrote the readings for day and night units the wrong way round. I got a huge bill for the positive difference, but no comment that one of the readings was now suspiciously negative. 

It took quite some time of performing monitoring and regular repeat readings at Npower's request to see that the day time reading only increased during the day and the night time ones at night and all the previous readings going back several years were in fact self consistent.

As has been already commented on, meter readers are infallible therefore I'm not quite sure how they reconciled it internally when a second reader came and swapped the numbers back again. 

I just kept at them on the phone and it got resolved in the end with a credit to the bill. I hope yours is as well.

OP magma 18 Sep 2022
In reply to richard_hopkins:

with me, think it's dials going in different directions in old meters that confuses professional meter readers

Post edited at 12:16
In reply to magma:

I read somewhere that with over/under reading discrepancies and/or payments over a wide time period, that once they find out, whenever that will be, the energy companies will take historical known readings, historical usage and expected typical usage of similar property into account in their recalculation from the last known accurate reading. That will mean they will attempt to charge based on their re-calculation of units expected to have been used at the various prices applicable over time period of reading errors. 

If that is indeed the case they are not likely to accept that you keep the current price for the next 1000 units even though they have made the error. If as you say the next reading is correctly read it will be less than the previous known correct one, they will be investigating I would have thought.

As a minimum, you should keep time stamped photographic evidence of what the meter readings were at the time of their errors and price changes as your evidence.

I guess it will be a hassle to deal with at any time, however, personally, I would try to and get it dealt with it now. Yes you will pay the new prices when they change, but it would avoid a possible fraud/theft accusation investigation once they take a correct reading at some unknown point in the future.

I would probably go straight to a formal complaint with a 1000 unit error so that you have it properly recorded in writing that they have made the errors (and as a plus you will be starting the clock for going to the Ombudsman if things get nasty later without any further delay). 

OP magma 18 Sep 2022
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

> I read somewhere that with over/under reading discrepancies and/or payments over a wide time period, that once they find out, whenever that will be, the energy companies will take historical known readings, historical usage and expected typical usage of similar property into account in their recalculation from the last known accurate reading. That will mean they will attempt to charge based on their re-calculation of units expected to have been used at the various prices applicable over time period of reading errors. 

yeah, was going to mention this- once they know an accurate reading they could backdate previous estimates and include in a new bill without you knowing. problem is both previous 'accurate' readings have been inaccurate


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