Citizens Advice calls for smart meter rollout delay after receiving 3,000 complaints

10 August 2018

Citizens Advice has called on the government to extend the smart meter rollout by three years after receiving 3,000 complaints about the gadgets.

Smart meters are due to be rolled out to houses in England, Scotland and Wales by 2020.  

But Victoria MacGregor, director of energy at the charity, has called for the rollout to be extended until 2023.

She says that while smart meters will “bring a raft of positive changes” - with 80% of people who have had one installed reportedly being happy with it - she is concerned that suppliers are having to install smart meters at an “increasingly unrealistic rate”.

And that this time pressure will lead to a poorer quality installation experience and risks reduced value for money for consumers.

Here at Moneywise, we’ve reported numerous problems with the rollout from households feeling pressured to take up a meter to one energy supplier telling us energy firms ‘don’t have a prayer’ of installing smart meters by 2020 deadline.

Only last month, a cross-party groups of MPs also warned that the rollout has been “plagued by repeated delays and cost increases, with suppliers now almost certain to miss the 2020 deadline”.

More than 3,000 smart meter issues were reported to Citizens Advice in 2017, including aggressive sales tactics, installation problems, customers still having to submit meter readings manually, and first-generation smart meters - known as SMETS1 meters - losing their smart functionality when consumers switch.

In addition, Citizens Advice has called on the government to publish up-to-date information on costs – it says the most recent cost analysis was published back in 2016.

‘Pushing back rollout would delay benefits’

However, the government says it won’t delay the rollout. Claire Perry, minister for energy and clean growth, comments: “Pushing back the rollout would only delay millions of households from enjoying the substantial benefits of moving to a smarter energy system – helping people to save money by using less energy.”

The government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) added on Twitter: “We always listen to concerns raised by @CitizensAdvice, but these account for just 0.03% of the 11 million smart meters installed so far. Around 80% of people would recommend a smart meter to a friend or relative and 90% are happy with their installation.”

Robert Cheesewright, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB – the company communicating the smart meter roll-out – adds: “Smart meters will help modernise our energy system and improve customer’s experiences, as Citizens Advice recognises.

“They will deliver billions of pounds worth of savings to our economy, and will pave the way for a cleaner, greener and more efficient energy system."


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I had a smart meter installed quite a while ago. I wasn't shown how to read it and I can't work it out so it is now unplugged and in a drawer.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

EON fitted a smart meter when I had a contract with them.2 month latter I changed energy supplier to find that they can not use EON smart meter. It is very difficult to read the fixed meter of EON . I have to do a manual reading and send to Sainsbury (British Gas)What is the point of this if the smart meter that is fitted can not be used by other supplier

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am not prepared to have a smart meter installed until such time that “universal “ models are produced allowing a change of supplier but keeping the same smart meter.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Consumers need to wake up and smell the coffee about these 'Smart' Meters. They may well tell you what energy you are consuming but its not going to turn the kettle off or reschedule when your tumble dryer goes on - yet. And thats the thing. By agreeing to a smart meter, the householder is actually agreeing to snooping, by the energy firm and ultimately the government, on their energy consumption. Neither the energy companies or the government really care less how much energy you use or for what - but they do want to know when and what triggers the demand. Is this mass of data necessarily a good thing for consumers? Depends on how it is used; the problem with data is, the typical Pandora's box syndrome - once its out there, it becomes very difficult to control exactly how it is used - however noble the original intention. The 'savings' with smart meters are dubious at best - and rely totally on the consumer taking the action (for the moment). We can all save energy - much more energy - by just being smarter ourselves. Turn stuff off - properly off- when its not being used, dry clothes for free outside or on a dryer rather than a ludicrously expensive tumble dryer, turn the heating down and put an extra layer on and instill these habits in your children.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What is the red triangle on the smartmeter box

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I hsd a smart meter fitted simply because my bills are fairly high snd thought it would be a good idea to see what im using according to my smart meter i used 90 pound of gas and electric but according to eon i had used 180 when i questioned eon customer services i wsd told it doesnt tell you exactly what you use its a guideline mmm funny guideline nearly 100 pound out wished id never bothered whats point

In reply to by Terence Marshall (not verified)

Well said

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am sick and tired of being harassed by EON. Now they have sent a letter telling me an appointment date for installation. I will ignore it just like I have previously ignored their harassment text messages and phone calls Why am I not interested? It does not save you money. It is simply a meter. Secondly, in the EON leaflet they advise that it may not work if you switch energy provider. So it is no use whatsoever. This harassment by EON must end. First they must guarantee that their meter will still work if you switch provider - a very basic requirement!!! The reason they are harassing us is very obvious - if their meter doesn't work with another provider, they want to install it to make it difficult for us to switch to another provider.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We have Solar Panels. When these were fitted, our existing electricity 'monitor' showed an increase in usage for green (low) to orange (medium) when the panels were outputting (daylight) even when there was no extra demand. At night it went back to green again with no changes in electricity usage. I deduced this to be the flow detector which was a small magnet strapped to one of the supply wires. This measured flow but not direction, so instead of the monitor showing less electricity being used when the panels were on, it showed an increase because of the increase in flow, even though this was in the opposite direction. If this is the system used in smart meters (likely as its cheap) all solar panel systems will have incorrect bills.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

...... “Pushing back the rollout would only delay millions of households from enjoying the substantial benefits of moving to a smarter energy system – helping people to save money by using less energy.” Claire Perry, minister for energy and clean growthWhat 'smarter energy system' - the energy doesn't change, it doesn't become supercharged or with any new benefits or added powers - electricity is electricity. And you don't need any kind of 'meter' to save money. The answer is in her statement - you save money by saving energy! And further we could all save more money by not having to indirectly fund the installations of these meters.The incompatibility of these meters is a total farce, what clown thought we'll let the energy companies develop their own meters and what bigger clown knowing these issues still exist, insist we must continue installing these pieces of obsolence? Those with a vested interest or alternative agenda?This a typical example of the misuse of Government Devolution where they bring in legislation with no plans or infrastucture to ensure their plan works or is even viable but pass the buck onto others to try and make it work, in this case the energy providers, (who have only their own self interests at heart). And when it fails, criticise them for their failings - this way the Government avoid all the responsibility but lap up any success whilst avoiding any responsibility when it all goes horribly wrong.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We had an early smart meter fitted by OVO but when we changed suppliers it became useless. Furthermore it is much more difficult to read manually than a good old analogue meter.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What the installers/energy companies and government don't tell you is that Smart meters will only save consumers money when they change to a time of use tariff.. At present the vast majority of people are on a tariff which costs the same no matter what time you use electricity/gas. So if you see you have a high consumption at a certain time and decide to switch an appliance off, you will still have to switch it on later and pay the same.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Smart meters are marginally more convenient for customers as fewer meter reader visits are required.They do NOT save money/energy .Only the customer can adjust his/her energy use.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The only people who are benefiting from this expensive and unnecessary farce are the owners of the Chinese technology industry who produce these gizmos.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I was offered a smart meter by Eon but was not told that if I changed suppliers the smart meter will still work but I would have to send in meter readings, this somewhat defeats the object.I told them I did not want one as I only use the energy I need to anyway so cannot see I would save much

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The smart meters scheme is the most grotesque waste of taxpayers' and meter users' money in history. Why haven't the more level-headed politicians called out this scandal before now for the "Emperor's New Clothes" joke that it is. A miniscule percentage of users will be monitoring usage of power, appliances and so on in real time. Yes, usage will be fed direct to billers, but does that warrant the wasting of £11 billion - sorry, make that £20billion; the latest guesstimate. Huge bonanza payouts for meter suppliers and energy companies; the public treated like the fools they take us for. We are being told that more and more debilitating health conditions - cataracts, joint replacements, hernias to name a few - will not now be treated under the NHS until the sufferer is totally incapacitated, yet some committee somewhere detached from the real world decided that smart meters would be a better use of the country's finite resources. Scandal doesn't cover it!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So 20% would NOT recommend and 10% are not happy. If my customer satisfaction percentages were as bad as that I would need a good kick in the pants!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Mine was thrown to the back of a cupboard less than a month after it was installed as it was always offline therefore a waste of my electricity it took to run it. Rubbish in my experience.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

British Gas fitted mine having reassured me it was a one time change - I changed suppliers, they can’t logon and now it has switched off (won’t transmit to reader).- so I’m back to reading the meters the old fashioned way!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The reason for not wanting to extend the period is because the sustantial benefits are more in favour of the suppliers, I doubt the customer will see any benefit but the suppliers gain by not having to read meters so save meter readers wages along with other things they want to start doing by remote action. I want to stay with my old meters which were almost new when I bougt the property, I don't think their displays are any more informative than the one we have had for years, my smart water meter works great as can be read by RF signal from meter readers van driving past, display although the display is designed with fish on so kids can watch it, best thing is I can read meter from the remote, I don't believe the energy ones have that option which is only bit of interest to me.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I do not want a smart meter at all.There are too many mistakesIt is added to your accounts, so it is not cheaper.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Once again we have a Government Minister, Claire Perry in this case , extolling the virtues of a product without knowing what she is talking about. The only people who benefit from a Smart Meter are the utility companies, and that Is when they work! This project is costing the consumer and the taxpayer £millions and there is no end in sight due to incompetence and inefficiency. Modern technology is great but it is not always beneficial. How Robert Cheesewright can justify his comments that they will save billions of pounds to our economy and pave the way to a cleaner,greener, efficient economy beggars belief. These people throw out these statements without producing facts to justify them, they believe they have the monopoly on intelligence and expect people to believe them.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

When I was a Scottish Power dual fuel customer they installed a smart meter. Now I have changed to EDF and the smart meter is not compatible. It's only use to me is it shows my consumption. I have to tell EDF my readings. Who is the idiot who did not require all Fuel Suppliers to use compatible smart meters.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I had smart meters installed in a bungalow in Newton Abbot - excellent! Came on time, did a brilliant installation, and I was extremely happy with the meters and the internal unit showing usage etc. Different story in a stone cottage in Wales - could not have them fitted as the electric meter was inside, behind an 18" thick stone wall and no SIM reading could be taken through the wall - but they won't move the meter to the other side of the wall where a SIM COULD read it! Wanted me to pay for that work - FARCE.Moved to Bovey Tracy (new house) arranged for smart meters - appointment made. Cancelled a week before as they could not get anyone to me! Cancelled it all together now. FARCE

In reply to by Dawn Taylor (not verified)

Dawn - did you pay anything to have this meter installed?You ought to check with your energy provider (whoever that was at the time) that it was them that installed your new meter - it sounds as though you may have been a victim of a scam or at best receiver of dodgy kit.Did you contact your provider when you had problems understanding it? - You really ought to get it checked out, it may be seriously unsafe and certainly before 'plugging' yours back in. As another reader pointed out these meters are 'hard-wired' and not 'plug & play'.

In reply to by Dawn Taylor (not verified)

Smart meters don’t require you to ‘read’ them! That’s the whole point! Readings are sent off automatically!The display is their so you can see how much energy you’re using and adjust it to save money!Also, how did you unplug your smart meter? It’s wired in to the electric supply! Surely you must have got a very severe shock by doing so and now have no incoming supply!

In reply to by G R Harding (not verified)

And this is precisely why some action needs to be taken to end EON's harassment campaign, which I continue to ignore

In reply to by Greg (not verified)

Here! Here! Well said Greg - that's all it takes - a bit of savvy.

Treble usage after Smart Meter installation

The usage trebled after British Gas Smart Meter installation. Comparing over a year of real (not estimated) old meter readings to the year on Smart Meter readings. Why and how can this be correct? We are all electric and a away the winter months.

its just a data grab

They will be disconnecting my property from the grid before I let that intrusive monitoring filth into my home. My home, I paid for it, I decide what technology does or does not come into my home. Not beis, ofgem or any two-bit energy company.

Smart meter, second Generation.

Being ripped off with the energy company I was with for four years it was time to change. I went to a comparison site and found a good deal with BRITISH GAS, The only problem I had with the change over was I had to book a smart meter installation within three months of starting the contract. We had the smart meter fitted, no problem the first month, got a bill and paid, second month the monitor that you had with the smart meter started playing up – it would read the electricity you used but will not read how much gas you used, Just keeps saying the same reading. A very disappointed customer of British Gas. After many attempts to get in touch with British Gas I eventually got through and was told they have got problems with the meters, which they were sorting out. Smart meters are rubbish. Don’t go down that road. And this meter is the second generation.

Moneywise letter competition winner

Dear Gerald, 

I am pleased to inform you you have won our January 2020 letter competition. Please can you email to claim your £50 M&S voucher? 


Moneywise Edmund

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