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

Published by Helen Knapman on 10 August 2018.
Last updated on 10 August 2018

Smart meters

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."

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I had smart meters installed

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

Consumers need to wake up and

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.

Here! Here! Well said Greg -

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

I had a smart meter installed

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.

Smart meters don’t require

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!

Dawn - did you pay anything

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'.

When I was a Scottish Power

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.

I am not prepared to have a

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.

Well said

Well said

Once again we have a

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.

I do not want a smart meter

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

The reason for not wanting to

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.

British Gas fitted mine

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!

EON fitted a smart meter when

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

And this is precisely why

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

Mine was thrown to the back

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.

So 20% would NOT recommend

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!

The smart meters scheme is

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!

I was offered a smart meter

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

The only people who are

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