One in three have problems with controversial smart meters as the devices go ‘dumb’ and give their owners the wrong data
- Four million smart meter users have reported issues since they were installed
- A third said the device screen went ‘dumb’ with a broken smart meter display
- Suppliers are under pressure for every household to have one installed
- A fifth of households feel pressure to get one due to preferential offers
One in three households have suffered problems with their smart meter since it was installed, figures reveal.
The meters are supposed to make life easier for customers by automatically sending gas and electricity readings to suppliers as often as every half an hour.
Households should then be able to see on a separate monitor how much power they are using in pounds and pence. However, around four million smart meter users have reported issues with the devices since they began being installed in 2013.
A smart meter is supposed to make consumers’ lives easier by automatically updating a supplier to the readings, making bills more accurate. One in three households have reported issues from ‘dumb’ screens to broken meters
Of those, a third said their devices went ‘dumb’ or stopped working when they switched supplier, according to comparison site uSwitch. The most common issue experienced was a broken smart display, which shows customers their power usage.
A further 13 per cent said their new meter stopped functioning for no obvious reason.
Suppliers are under pressure to offer every home a smart meter by 2020 and face heavy fines if they fail to prove they have done enough to encourage customers to get one. But the national scheme has been hit by a series of delays and technical issues.
There have been a number of issues recorded with smart meters since 2013, including mobile signal problems and not working in houses with thick walls
Suppliers were expected to stop offering first-generation meters, known as Smets1, in March as they typically stop working when suppliers are changed. Yet one in five homes said they have continued to be offered these older meters, according to uSwitch.
It is hoped the new devices will put an end to estimated bills and help households reduce their bills by encouraging them to cut energy consumption.
The scheme is estimated to be costing £11billion.
But the majority of users surveyed said they were not told how the smart meters could save them money.
Households also complained about the aggressive tactics used by energy giants to push smart meters.
More than a fifth of households said they felt pressured into taking a smart meter, while 5 per cent said their supplier tried to install one without their permission.
Earlier this month Money Mail reported how most energy giants now reserve their best tariffs for customers who agree to have a smart meter.
Martyn James from complaints website Resolver said: ‘There have been endless examples of inappropriate high pressure sales, misleading advice and unfair incentives since the smart meter rollout began. It’s also clear that for countless people, smart meters aren’t working.
Some have called for the controversial smart meter roll out to slow down in order to ensure that the technology is suitable for the task it’s designed for
‘That’s why it’s important that the whole roll out is slowed right down and done properly, so people can actually get what they were promised – cheaper, more accurate bills – not breakdowns and blank screens.’
Rik Smith, energy expert at uSwitch, said: ‘There are still far too many issues with the rollout which are damaging consumer confidence in the whole scheme. There is a real opportunity to build more confidence in smart meters now, if households are given the right information to make the most of their new device and they’re only offered a second generation meter which shouldn’t go dumb if someone switches supplier.’
Robert Cheesewright of Smart Energy GB, the body set up by the Government to promote the meters, said: ‘Thousands of second generation smart meters are being rolled out every day – in the coming days the two millionth second generation meter will have been installed.’