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Said 'no' to a smart meter? Energy companies might keep pestering you

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
May 17, 2018

If you have already turned down a smart meter, get ready, because energy companies have been told to keep asking you to get one.

Suppliers have been told by Ofgem to re-contact customers who have already declined smart meters, in an effort to get more installed.

Energy companies are under pressure to install smart meters in every home in the UK by the end of 2020.


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Some companies have already resorted to a string of bully-boy tactics to pressure energy customers to get smart meters.

And now, the energy regulator Ofgem has told them to keep pestering people.

In a letter issued to all the energy companies, Ofgem instructed suppliers to "consider appropriate re-contact strategies".

Suppliers were suggested to use "tailored messaging, taking into account information gathered about customers’ motivations, needs and concerns".

Basically, they want to know why you said no, and will suggest a counter-argument as to why you should get one.

READ MORE: 'Your new smart meter will not be hacked', claims rollout company


Switching will soon be easier

One of the main problems with smart meters is that they only work with the supplier that installed them.

That means if you switch, your meter goes back to being 'dumb' - requiring manual readings again.

So far 400,000 homeowners who switched have had their meter go dumb.

But, a computer upgrade over the next five months will allow anyone who switches to keep their smart functions.

Meanwhile, the second generation meters - which can switch to any supplier - should be available from about October.


Not getting the best deals

Those who refuse to get a smart meter, might be getting punished financially too.

People who refuse to have one installed are paying up to £111 more than those who agree to the new technology.

Three of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers - British Gas, EDF and First Utility - reserve their cheapest deals for customers who agree to have a smart meter installed.


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Being too pushy

The Daily Mail suggested suppliers may only wait a few months after you have declined a smart meter before they ask you again.

But, while suppliers were told to re-contact people, Ofgem stated also warned energy suppliers will face fines if they overstep the mark with their push to roll out smart meters.

Jacqui Russell, Ofgem's head of smart metering and market operations, said: "We are monitoring and engaging with suppliers where we see risks [of misleading information being sent out to customers]. Where suppliers continue to fail to address these risks, we will consider taking action."


Setting up appointments

In a move that will infuriate many homeowners, Ofgem said suppliers can continue setting up installation appointments without obtaining permission.

However, the regulator did warn suppliers that they should stop making appointments for vulnerable people without their permission.


How far is too far?

A source at a Big Six supplier told The Daily Mail that suppliers were not being given enough information about how to get more meters installed, without being too pushy.

"We need to be more creative, but [to avoid overstepping the mark] firms need to know the minimum they need to do by the 2020 deadline and this still isn't clear."

An Energy UK spokesperson said: "Energy companies are working hard so as many people as possible experience the benefits of smart meters and to ensure the rollout is carried out safely, efficiently and cost-effectively."