Warning to households with smart meters over switching providers – are you affected? | The Sun

When Lisa James checked her smart meter as usual one morning, she was surprised to see a blank screen staring back at her.

She was no smart meter obsessive, but had got used to checking in on her energy usage and how much she was spending throughout the day.

Mrs James, from Teignmouth in Devon, found it reassuring and it meant she was in control of her spending as a pay-as-you-go energy customer.

But when the pensioner was switched to Ovo in April this year after Ovo took over the SSE Energy Services brand, she found herself stuck with a broken display screen for almost six months.

This meant she was unable to monitor her gas and electricity consumption for the whole period – defeating the point of having a smart meter installed.

It hadn't been her choice to switch providers, but at the time she had been reassured it would be a seamless transfer, so she hadn't really minded.



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But after the switch, her smart meter display screen only read: "Lost network."

Over the next few months, Mrs James pleaded with numerous Ovo customer service reps over the phone and sent several letters to the company, but no one could seem to help.

"I just really want Ovo to send me a new display that works with its systems but they're ignoring me," she said.

"I'm so worried, I need to know how much energy I've used and when I need to top up, as I've never owed money for gas or electricity before."

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After The Sun got in touch, Ovo confirmed Mrs James' smart meter display had stopped working and sent her a replacement.

The company also sent her flowers as an apology for the inconvenience.

Mrs James is just one of potentially millions of energy customers who could be lumbered with a broken smart meter display after switching providers.

This is because the problem typically lies with first generation smart meters, which were installed in around 15.7 million homes during the first phase of roll-out.

According to consumer expert Martyn James, these early models are often not compatible with a different energy supplier from the one they were installed by.

He said: “Unfortunately, what happened in Mrs James' case is very common.

“The most likely cause of smart meter screens breaking is having a first generation smart meter, which have been rather prone to packing in – and millions are not compatible with other energy providers.”

Mr James said "countless" people have complained that their smart meter screen went blank after moving to a new firm.

According to Ovo, sometimes when people switch supplier, their smart meter might lose some of its "smart" features.

And Octopus states that if you have a first generation smart meter installed by another supplier, your display may stop working when you join them.

In 2019, consumer group Which? carried out research and found almost half of all households with a smart meter reported problems when they switched providers.

What can I do if my smart meter stops working?

If you notice your display screen suddenly goes blank or your readings don't seem to be right, contact your energy supplier as soon as possible.

You can contact energy suppliers to report faulty displays using the following contact details:

  • British Gas: 0330 100 0056 or live web chat
  • EDF Energy: 0333 200 5100 or on Whatsapp at 07480 802 942
  • E.On Next: email [email protected] or call 0808 501 5200
  • Octopus: email [email protected] or call 0808 164 1088
  • Ovo: 0330 303 5063 or live web chat
  • Scottish Power: 0345 058 0002 or live web chat
  • Shell Energy: [email protected] or call 0330 111 5050
  • Utilita: 0345 207 2000 or live web chat

In the meantime, check for flashing lights, unusual symbols or screens that seem to stick. All of these are indicative of a potential problem with your system.

If your screen goes blank or disconnects from the network, suppliers recommend trying to turn it off and on first – as basic as that sounds.

Leave it to rest for a few minutes to allow it to reset, and then make sure the display is positioned as close as possible to your actual meter before rebooting.

Displays that are still functional should start showing your correct data again within 24 hours.

If you still don't have any luck, you can ask your supplier to send you a new meter. They should send you one for free.

However, The Sun revealed earlier this year that in certain circumstances, some suppliers charge up to £50 to replace faulty smart meter screens, so check beforehand.

If you're not happy with how your firm is treating you, you can file a formal complaint with them.

You must do that before you can take your complaint further, for example to the Energy Ombudsman.

To take it to the Ombudsman, you need to have received a so-called deadlock letter, where the provider refers your complaint on.

You can also complain if you haven't had a satisfactory solution to your problem within eight weeks.

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