Energy firm smartens up act after pensioner’s struggle


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Formerly with SSE, Paul Fairley was moved to Ovo Energy when it took over. Last summer he gave the go-ahead to have a smart meter installed and switched from paying quarterly to direct debit.

“I’ve always paid on time and much preferred the old system,” the 80-plus pensioner told Crusader.

“But my understanding was that this was the future, so reluctantly I consented.”

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer champion Maisha Frost on ++;

Paul got an in-home display monitor for his gas and electricity meters but had problems deducing what was going on.

“One day I had a few pounds credit, much less than I thought then suddenly over £60 more. When I called I was just told to move the monitor nearer to the main meter,” he recalls.

“I just want to know where I stand, how much I used and the cost, have clear notification of increases and a comprehensible bill.”

As consumers are advised, he got in touch with his supplier but says he did not hear further despite sending many letters. Although a national rollout of smart meters is underway, they are not obligatory.

Although in principle a good thing, from the inquiries Crusader has received much more guidance, generally in a clearer format, about using smart meters is needed.

Some customers struggle to get to grips with them and can’t easily tell when a malfunctioning connection is the problem.

Switching suppliers can also cause problems and enrolment of new meters onto the network is not always smooth.

Always check that your smart meter is a new one and if any specific smart meter tariff is available or likely to be soon.

We shared Paul’s understandable anxieties with Ovo however and the company is now giving him more support, including greater clarity about his current tariff.

“A very nice man got in touch,” he confirmed. “I’m getting a proper bill and a hard copy is available.

“They explained about recent increases and the price guarantee. I have been put on its priority person’s register and I received a goodwill gesture for the lack of service before. I am no longer ignored. Thank you, Crusader.”

  • Paul’s name has been changed

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