Traditional PAYG meter with blank screen

  • 22 October 2023
  • 20 replies

Good Afternoon.

We recently had a power cut in our building. Shortly after that, when we got electricity back, i realized my meter had a blank screen and I could not see how much credit I had left.

I contacted OVO assistance to book an engineer to come fix it, which they did, but I was worried that I could run out of credit before they come (almost a week later). They told me I should not be worried because when that happens the meter basically starts working as a billing meter, so there’s no possibility of me running out of electricity in the meantime.

Could someone confirm if this is really the case? I really don’t want to call 105 in the evening and wait in the dark for three or more hours waiting for help to come.

Thanks very much.


Best answer by Blastoise186 22 October 2023, 16:32

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20 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi @Cid296 ,

Just a heads up, I’m one of the Forum Volunteers here, rather than an OVO employee.

I can confirm that what you’ve been told is correct. The meter will have gone into Free Vend Mode as a result of the power cut. Obviously, you won’t be charged any usage for the time the power was out, since you can’t have used anything during that time. Oh, and you won’t be charged a fee for the engineer visit either as it’s not your fault.

However, to avoid disruption in case of a fault, Free Vend Mode triggers in these situations. You’ll still need to pay back what you used later, but you will not be disconnected in the meantime. You basically have unlimited credit until the meter is reset by an engineer. Try not to go too power hungry in the meantime though as the meter is still tracking your usage!

You can pay back the usage via future top-ups after the reset.

It might be worth upgrading to Smart Meters though to avoid this situation. :)

Hello Blastoise186,

Thanks ever so much for your reply. 

I’ve been basically pulling my hair out for the last day and a half. The idea of going out of electricity at night was doing my head in. 

And no, I won’t go power hungry ah ah. I’m actually very moderate with my expenditures anyway.

Thanks very much, you’ve helped me a lot. Cheers!

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

No worries, that’s what we’re here for! :D

Each of the volunteers here has specialities that they’re really good at. Mine is focused on metering related stuff and some of the tech that’s used by suppliers. Likewise, there’s others here who are very focused on new technologies that help you save energy.

If you ever need us again, feel free to stop by!

No worries, that’s what we’re here for! :D

Each of the volunteers here has specialities that they’re really good at. Mine is focused on metering related stuff and some of the tech that’s used by suppliers. Likewise, there’s others here who are very focused on new technologies that help you save energy.

If you ever need us again, feel free to stop by!

Hey Blastoise, just one more thing please.

Would you recommend me to go for a smart meter? They offered me one some time ago, but I thought it might be more expensive and said no.

What do you think? I mean, I did notice an increase in the price in the last few months, but I’m still not sure about the smart meter thing.


Userlevel 7
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It’s definitely worth considering. I’m on OVO Pay Monthly myself so I can only give my experience from that side of the coin, but there’s benefits either way whether you’re PAYG or PAYM.

If you’re on PAYG, perhaps the biggest benefit is the ability to top-up from almost anywhere in the UK without needing to go to a shop - but you can still top-up in shops if you want to, giving you more options than you’d have on Traditional PAYG. The prices are the same regardless of Traditional/Smart. Being on PAYG means having a Smart Meter won’t cause your costs to increase or decrease because you’re always being billed to “actual” readings regardless of the meter type.

You’ll also avoid having to use Free Vend Mode, as Smart Meters are more capable at recovering from power cuts than Traditional PAYG Meters are.

The other big one is having an extra way to check your credit without having to go to the meter itself - the IHD you get with it shows you the balance in real-time.

Thanks mate. 

I will consider all of that. It’s even possible that on Friday, when the engineers come, they’ll  have to replace my meter for a smart one anyway, because it got damaged by the power cut. They did tell me that was a possibility over the phone.

Thanks very much! :D

Userlevel 7
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And that’s exactly why Free Vend Mode exists! :P

It’s a fail-safe type safety feature designed to protect you from situations that are impossible to recover from, especially going off-supply and being completely unable to top-up because the motherboard or a critical component got fried, and credit being consumed incorrectly if the calibration goes out of line - both situations mean the meter cannot be trusted until an engineer has checked it again.

Yesterday someone came to install a smart meter but refused saying the wooden back board was not secure. Even so, the power had been cut and the meter had been worked on. After the old meter had been replaced and the engineer left , etc I noticed the meter screen was blank with no red light. I tried pressing the button and inserting the key but to no avail. I informed the Boost call centre but they refused to send anyone out until the credit expires, although initially they said they would book a maintenance visit. Surely it is better to avoid a complete power loss (and all the massive inconvenience this gives to the household) and install a new meter? This week I was on leave, their expectations are that I will take time off to their convenience or phone while at work - no understanding whatsoever of real life. Is this the correct procedure?

Userlevel 7
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Hi @Sarah268 ,

Please try the Live Chat at for this. They should get you sorted.

If that fails, please stop by again.

Thanks, I will try

Userlevel 7

Sorry to hear this, it sounds very stressful.


If you go off supply @Sarah268, Boost will need to book an emergency appointment.


If you’re with Boost

This topic may be helpful:



Topping up for the first time?

To register your new electricity key or gas card, put it into the correct meter for at least a minute. The electricity meter will show a message to let you know it's registered, and the gas meter will beep.


My key/card isn’t working – what should I do?

We recommend taking the key/card out of the meter and wiping the chip with a clean, dry cloth. If you re-insert it in the meter and it still doesn’t work, please get in touch with us and we can send you a replacement.


Is your meter showing an ‘error code’ when you insert your key/card? Was there an error code when the shop assistant popped your key or card in a PayPoint terminal? If so, note the error code down and compare it to the list of codes we’ve listed in our guide on error codes here. That’ll help us work out how to fix the issue quicker when you contact our Support team (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and 9am to 5pm on weekends).


We had a power cut on Wednesday where they changed the lines over. When it came back on our key meter had a blank screen. I keep getting told different things. An engineer can't come out till 10th June. We only had £30 left on it. So when we rang they said not to worry put money on key till engineer comes out. Well with meter being blank would know if it was on or not. Someone else said that electric wont go off it's in free vend mode till fixed and the person from OVO I had online chat with said we will lose it when money runs out and will need to emergency call out. Well as you can see Im now totally confused and worried we are going to have no electric. We've got money on the key just incase to test out if needed and kept receipt. But it's now a waiting game to see what happens and I'm worried to do anything like washing etc incase it goes. So what's the actual answer cos I feel it's going to end up me ringing 105. Doesn't help it's half term and our we only have mobiles that need to be charged as no house line. If anyone could help to clear this up I'd appreciate it. 😊

Userlevel 7
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Howdy @Lilikate88 ,

Please allow me to clear this one up. This is a known condition that occurs after a power cut. The meter has indeed gone into Free Vend Mode pending a reset, during which time you have “unlimited credit” and will NOT be disconnected at this time. The meter will still track what you use and apply it as a debt later, so please put your top-up money aside for now as this will speed up paying things off later.

I would, however, recommend you consider upgrading to Smart Meters once you’re all sorted, as they handle these situations far more smoothly than the one you’ve got now.

Thank you, I appreciate you explaining. Was really confused and worried we would have no electric. 

Yes I will consider this when they come out to sort it.  

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

No worries. It’d have to be a separate job I’m afraid - the engineer won’t be able to reset the current meter and swap it out during the same callout unless the current meter is totally dead.

If you get stuck with any other questions, we’re right here so feel free to swing by again!

Ok thanks for your help. 

The screen has the yellow light so don't think it's dead. But I'll discuss this when they come. And I'll deff ask on here in future.  

Userlevel 4

Hey @Lilikate88,


@Blastoise186 has already covered this for you and is correct. The meter will go into “free vend mode” if it identifies any potential issues so that you don’t lose supply. It will continue to track your energy usage and, as pointed out, will store any debt balance until you’re up and running. If you keep a hold of any money you were planning on using to top the meter up, we can help you get this cleared once the issues have been fixed. 


Here’s a similar post from a member in the same position that he helped previously:


If you have any emergencies with the power going off or the meter throws any further issues your way, then keep this page handy:


Keep us updated! 


Thanks answering and also clearing this up. I will keep this updated and let you know if anymore problems. Thanks again! 

Hi, update. 

We have had the meter changed and smart meter put in today. I was told to top up straight away as the card was good to go.  We have tried twice to top up on the app via our bank card and I've been to the shop all have been declined. I phoned up the customer service and eventually getting her to understand said it would take 2-3 hours for it to be active. We are currently in the emergency credit. Is that normal. I'm hoping it will accept soon as won't have any money on it. Then have to claim the money back. I also now have to try to get the £30 we put on the key and never used too. So that's how it's going. 

Userlevel 3

Hi @Lilikate88,


Thank you for this update. I’m sorry to hear this. 


Sometimes when new meters are fitted it can take a little while for the systems to update with the new information. Have you tried to top up again recently? The Support team should be able to help with getting back the £30 credit that was lost on the key.


These threads should also help: