How can I help a friend who's having difficulty submitting meter readings on the phone?

Hello, I am trying to add a meter reading on behalf of an elderly lady who does not own a phone or computer. She has waited on hold at a phone box (!) for over 2 hours so has asked me to help.  She is trying to give a true meter reading as the estimated one is too high. The OVO Bot system does not recognise the reading and neither does the phone automated system i called on her behalf.  Please help as I can understand why she is so frustrated! Number is not recognised, it’s just 4 digits long.  Thanks in advance



Best answer by Jess_OVO 21 June 2022, 11:29

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Hi @friend of marlene ,

It sounds like you’re trying to submit a meter reading that’s only four digits long, but the system is expecting one that’s five digits long.

Could you show us a photo of the meter in your next reply to this thread please? We’ll help you figure out what you need to enter.

Thank you for replying. Unfortunately I cannot attach a photo of the meter as I am at work and my friend does not own a phone to be able to take a picture for me. As you can see, new technology is not useful in this case! 

Should I put a zero in front of the 4 digits? 

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Yes, give that a try. If that makes it pass validation, the reading will be accepted and processed.

I would also strongly recommend considering a smart meter upgrade as well. OVO doesn’t force your friend to have one and she can of course decide not to get one, but it would help to prevent this kind of issue from ever happening again.

Currently still on hold to OVO…...45mins now!! 

Thank you I will try that now! 

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No worries. Try the live chat at as you’ll probably get in faster that way.

Nope!! It won’t accept it!! I tried 2 zero’s in front of 4 digits, still nothing! Any advice? 


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Oh and erm… Monday is the worst day to call any energy supplier. Literally EVERYONE tries to get through on a Monday!

If you're unable to get through today, things do cool down from Tuesday mornings based on what the forum moderators have told me in the past.

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Nope!! It won’t accept it!! I tried 2 zero’s in front of 4 digits, still nothing! Any advice? 


Ahh… That’s not a good sign. There could be an account issue that I can’t help you with here. Are you absolutely sure you’re submitting for the right meter and the right supply?

Please make sure the Meter Serial Number on the meter in question matches up to the Meter Serial Number on the bills. If you can show me photos of the meter and the display when you get chance, I can help you to pull a reading out of it and make sure it’s being read correctly. Sometimes they’re a little fiddly!

With regards to the Smart reader, SSE tried to fit one back in 2019 but apparently couldn’t do it because there was already another one installed by the Gas Board?!  Not having seen the meter, I have no idea if it’s still ‘live’ or who takes control of it, or whether it can simply be transferred over to SSE/OVO. 

Bless her, she’s really worried about getting a bad credit rating if she doesn’t pay this bill, but wants it at the right amount rather than the higher estimated amount. 

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That’s Ok, I can help to identify the meter as well. If you could show me photos of all gas and electric meters when you’re able to, I’ll be able to tell if you if they’re any kind of smart meter or not and what your options are.

Also, I forgot to mention this before (sorry!). But if you’re submitting a reading over the phone, please use a phone that isn’t linked to any OVO account, otherwise the system will assume you want to submit for that account rather than the one you’re trying to submit to.

I’ll get @Tim_OVO and @Jess_OVO to stop by this thread in case they can help somehow.

Her other option is just to pay the bill for now based on the estimated readings and that’ll keep her account healthy. I can assure you that once you put an actual reading in, her account balance will be recalculated and a bill credit will be issued if necessary.

Thank you for trying to help. I will advise her to pay the bill, I don’t think it will too much more, so she should be ok money wise although perhaps I shouldn’t assume that. 

Hopefully the credit will arrive in her account quickly so will help her at the next payment. 

It’s so frustrating for the older generation not helped in this case by zero technology, which of course is her prerogative. 

One thing I forgot to say was that the meter reading on the paper bill is very similar to the reading my friend took, so I think she has the right reading. 

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You’re welcome. I can’t access her account myself even if she granted consent because forum volunteers such as myself aren’t allowed to access the accounts of another member, nor any internal systems.

Unfortunately, it’s all too true. Smart Meters genuinely can make life a lot easier. And if you don’t want to know the full details of your usage, you can always just have the meter submit once a month to keep bills accurate.

The problem is that so many of the older generation refuse to upgrade to smart meters for one reason or another. Whether it be speculation, fear, being convinced that they’re useless, not understanding them, not wanting any technology in their life or the potentially infinite other reasons… It means the one group that smart meters would benefit most of all is the same group that hardly has any active.

What I do know about OVO’s way of doing things, is that submitting a meter reading successfully, causes the account balance to update pretty rapidly. Often it’s done within 90 seconds, but almost always within 24 hours. If the system calculates a bill credit needs to be issued as a result of an actual meter reading being lower than the estimated readings, it’ll automatically apply one on the spot without you needing to do anything else. And yup, this will also show up on the next bill.

Likewise, if the account balance (lets say £50 for example) at any given time ends up being higher than the latest bill (such as £25 for example), the account balance will drop by the billed amount (in this case, £25) and there’d be £25 left in the account. If your friend is on Simpler Energy and is paying bills “on-demand”, she’ll get one that says something like “since your account balance was more than this bill, we’ve automatically paid it off for you. You don’t need to send us a payment this time.” Or something along those lines anyway.

Don’t forget that actual readings must always be higher than the previous one. If you submitted 12345 back in May 2022 for example, any attempt to submit 12344 today will be rejected because it’s impossible for you to have pulled 99,999 kWh worth of go juice in the space of a month on a domestic supply. There’s only one exception to this rule, which covers meters that have “gone round the clock”. If last months reading was say, 99995 and this months is 00055, the system will accept it (subject to the usual validation) because it’ll know the meter probably went back to zero and started again. Cases like these will be handled automatically as well so you don’t need to worry there. The system will simply do some extra number crunching to figure out the exact usage to bill for.

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Hi @friend of marlene and welcome to the OVO online community,


So nice to see our community superstar, @Blastoise186,  on hand giving out the great advice as always. I’m hoping this has helped you to offer the support that your friend needs with getting their account back on track. As you mentioned your friend isn’t online and doesn’t have a phone to contact us easily I’d recommend checking out the advice given in the thread below. By adding you as a secondary contact, your friend might find it easier to manage things with your help.



Sounds like the meter readings may need to be manually approved if they’re much lower than what we’d expect, based on the ‘Estimated Annual Consumption’ of your friend’s address. As mentioned our Support Team are able to get a reading logged in this case and any over-estimated charges would then be corrected. Of course a smart meter might help avoid this situation in future but it would be up to your friend to make this decision. Check out the thread below as I think the situation is quite similar:


Hope this helps get things sorted. Do pop back if you need any more advice. 🙂

Many thanks for all your help.

My friend was happy to have a smart meter installed (2019) but when SSE went to do so, they said there was a meter from the Gas Board already installed! I have no idea if this is a smart meter so really I think the best thing is for an engineer to go out & investigate and install a Smart meter if it’s required.  She also wants her bills to remain as quarterly, not monthly as OVO seem to be pushing on her. That can be arranged can’t it? 


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No worries.

Most suppliers are sunsetting support for quarterly bills I’m afraid. Monthly bills are generally better for everyone’s cashflow and ultimately can allow for cheaper tariffs.

OVO hasn’t offered quarterly billing in forever (if at all!) and the only OVO members I’m aware of that can have quarterly bills are primarily certain migrated SSE customers who were already on quarterly billing. If you’re not in that group, I’m afraid this might not be an option but you’d be welcome to ask the support team anyway.