Smart meters not worth the pain?



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Userlevel 7
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Well I too have experienced a miracle, Brother! 😉

For on this glorious Sunday morning, I was enlightened by my IHD proclaiming messages of great joy!



and thus they did exhort me:
  • Electricity Meter initialised
  • Gas Meter initialised
So not only do I now have a gas supply reading for the first time in the 4½ months since installation, but my electricity meter has been raised from the dead without the laying on of hands!
Userlevel 5
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@Transparent Praise be!!

This is great news!
I had my Smart meters fitted just over 3 weeks ago and wished I had seen this forum beforehand and not bothered with the Smart meters.
First the Home Dispay unit only displayed energy used and not money spent. Eventually (after a number of phone calls and escalating my complaint) Ovo got it displaying £, only to find the gas meter is no longer sending readings and no one at Ovo can tell me when it will be sorted. They even wanted to close my complaint!
So a complete waste of time and a lot of frustration. Ovo customer services are very friendly but ultimately nobody takes responsibility for sorting out the problem. I have emailed the CEO but it doesn't look like I going to get a response so I may just have to take my business elsewhere.
Userlevel 3
Hi @Chasdob

I sympathise with your frustration, although 3 weeks is a fairly short time for Smart meters ;-)
I just wish the moderators on these forums, or the customer service people could give us honest answers. We all know that it doesn't take weeks or months for data to sort itself out, so we must be in a queue. When you ring most telephone answering systems they tell you which position you are in the queue, and the waiting time. However, this doesn't apply to OVO and their smart meter data retrieval. Despite being a regular poster here, I have never managed to get a serious technical response to what is going on, except from a smart metering team person when discussing why my electricity meter was going wrong due to reverse current flow from my solar panels, and the firmware upgrade needing to fix it.

Tony
Userlevel 7
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Re-posted and written again from memory because the Forum software discarded what I posted here yesterday evening. Bah!


Hi @Chasdob - I agree with @tony1tf that 3 weeks is too short a time for you to have fully functional SMETS2 meters. There's quite a lot of test and commissioning which occurs up to 5 weeks after the Installer leaves site.

Had I known of your situation earlier, I would've counselled against asking OVO to make any changes to your meter software in the meantime.

The issue concerning erroneous costings on your IHD has been discussed extensively here on the Forum over the past 4 months. See here for example, where a Moderator was correcting my post within an hour of me uploading it! It was only on 19th June that OVO announced they had traced the fault to software in the Communications Hub, and not the IHD itself.

The code was changed first on my Comms Hub as a test, and subsequently on many others too. Just because you read here on the Forum that customers like myself and Tony1tf are receiving fixes for bugs we've highlighted, does not mean that the same code can then be rolled out across all OVO customers. Our SMETS2 installations have been used by OVO to check the effects of code changes because we are providing feedback with significant technical clarity.

So I'm unsurprised to learn that when the IHD costings bug was resolved for you that you then noticed the loss on data transfer for your SMETS2 gas meter.

OVO were quite correct to close the first Complaint you made. They follow clear guidelines. The issue with the lost meter connection is separate to the IHD costings resolution. Part of the problem with reporting faults is knowing when there is direct interaction between issues. That's why OVO have decided to assign @BenS_OVO , a member of the SMETS2 Team, to the Forum. We can describe symptoms, but we need to let Ben decide which are generic, which are site-related, and which will resolve themselves once something else occurs.

You ought to know that the status of the Smart Meters and Comms Hubs when they are shipped to the Energy Suppliers is "sub-optimal". Without apportioning blame on an open Forum, these items require code changes and harmonisation before they will correctly operate.

It was only this last Sunday morning (28th July) that I had code downloaded to my Comms Hub which left me in a position where I appear to have no further bugs on-site. That includes successfully reconnecting a gas meter link which appeared "stuck" in a partway state.

There is no way OVO Customer Support would know about this successful test for several days yet. That's why they can't possibly give you a date when your gas meter issue will be resolved.

It's quite likely that I'm the only OVO customer to have experienced all three of the commonly reported SMETS2 bugs, and yet now have a full working installation, including correct costings on the IHD. It will take several more days before OVO's engineers will feel confident that this new code is robust and suitable for wider distribution.

They will probably re-test code on my meters. They have specific consent to do this, and it would cause me less disruption than most if I totally lost gas and electricity. I have a number of off-grid facilities, including internet connections which I can use to report faults without requiring mains power!

Please feel free to post again here. There are Forum members here who are technically astute and we're a pretty friendly bunch.
Hi Transparent & tonyltf,

Thanks for the comments.

I could understand these problems if this were some kind of development system or trial, but this is supposed to be a commercial system.

I work for a electronics company in software/firmware development so know that there can be latent problems which only manifest themselves under corner conditions.

My real complaint is that I was cold called by OVO and asked if I wanted Smart Meters, I did not go to them and ask. Having agreed to have then fitted, nearly 4 weeks later, the system is not working, has never worked, is no nearer working than when it was installed (the display unit has now lost connection) and OVO cannot tell me when it will work. I cannot think of any product where this would be acceptable!

I feel I am part of a half baked, poorly arranged trial.
Userlevel 7
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Point taken @Chasdob.

Since you have the right sort of technical background, your comments here are insightful.

Yes we all expected that the four main devices that comprise a SMETS2 installation would be provided to the Energy Suppliers in a fully-tested and operational condition.

However, much of the past two years has been occupied with checking two central planks of the Smart Meter strategy:
  • their security and defence against any cyber attack on UK energy networks
  • compliance with DCC specifications in order to gain certification
I don't know the proportion of SMETS2 Installations which are reporting failures, but news from other Energy Suppliers suggests to me that it might be around 10%. It's not an OVO problem - it's industry-wide.

The department in OVO who call customers to arrange Smart Meter installations is following a strategy agreed with Ofgem, the industry regulator. Unless Ofgem themselves decides differently, each Supplier must continue to abide by their obligations. I don't think we're anywhere near that stage.
Userlevel 2
Hey @Chasdob.

Really sorry to hear about the issues you've been having up to this point. @Transparent is totally correct in the fact we have been trying to get our meter manufacturer to make sure the firmware on all our assets are there they need to be.

There's 2 important things to remember. First is we are all learning about this new technology and there have been some growing pains. I think we are in a very positive position now and please bare with this new technology, I assure you they are the way forward for the industry. They exist to make energy cheaper for all and (most important) make us all more mindful of how and when we use our energy. The difference between this and any 'normal' new tech trail is we are at the whim of a lot of government and industry regulation that has been put upon all energy suppliers. Could we have done things better? yes, but please keep in mind we are all about building the best customer journey and we we want you to be happy and stay with us forever (That sounds almost sinister).
Second point is with our customer services; although they have been doing amazing things by helping out our customers with S2 issues, it's new to them also and it will take them some time to really get on top of everything (and as we are discovering new things all the time this can be a difficult process). They are a lovely bunch of guys so please be patient with them.

I am really happy this forum is growing and I'll do my best to help as much as I can going forward. I'm going to try and be more of a presence on here that you guys can use. I don't know everything (if anything) but I can always find someone within OVO (or the wider industry) who can help.
Userlevel 1
Hi @BenS_OVO

Since starting this topic I have had no resolution.

To recap both meters work at the point the engineer leaves. Within days the electric meter stops communicating with the comms unit and never reconnects.

Customer Service are now offering to swap out my electric meter for a fourth unit. There is no real discussion, they insist there are no underlying faults or problems.. Each time the engineer is out, no attempt is made toi investigate, test or to diagnose the fault. It’s just a simple swap out each time.

I have no confidence this fourth unit will stay online any longer than the other 3. But CS can not offer me any other option leaving me no choice than to accept a 4th unit. This is not viable as a solution. Can you assist?

thanks
andrew
Userlevel 3
Hi @Andrewmk

Do you have solar panels? They were what was causing my SMETS2 meter to fall over until new firmware could be downloaded. Once the meter had produced too many alerts for reverse current flow, it stopped communicating, and was knackered because no new firmware could be downloaded. I got a new meter installed with my solar PV switched off until the new firmware could be downloaded - still working OK.

Tony
Userlevel 2
Hey @Andrewmk.
I'll send you a private message as I need to get your account info from you.
Userlevel 1
Hi @Amy_OVO

First off sorry, @tony1tf for the delay in replying, no - no solar panels here - I wish.

Well here I am, back on this forum. — approaching 11 months of living with smart meters that do not work.

I posted to @BenS_OVO who pushed a firmware update last week that didn’t work. Ben has not followed up with any contact with me and hasn’t replied to my private messages.

So, sorry guys — this is where I vent a bit.

This is so typical of every attempt, every avenue and means of communication that I open up with Ovo. It fizzles out with no follow up. Every email gets (mis)answered by someone new - and no-one takes ownership of a problem to its resolution. Calls for a complaint to be raised vanish in thin air and promises to have someone call me back are ignored (I’m looking at you here Reece). This has taken up so much of my time and any attempt to push for a resolution sees Ovo push back equally hard. You are experts at putting telephone calls on hold and then cutting them off and not calling back. Your front line call handlers are untrained in most aspects other than how to thwart customer requests to be put through to someone who might actually be able to help.

in essence nobody seems to care.

I’m past warning people off smart meters, I’m now warning people off Ovo. Sorry guys, everyone I speak with is nice — I mean very nice —. Lovely lovely people, every one of you, but you are singularly unable to resolve problems of your own making. I no longer want these awful things but you won’t give me my old dumb meters back and you cannot make work the ones you have dumped on me.

I’ll be the first to concede that letting off on here does little to help my cause or find a solution. But I’ve had over 10 months of this and it makes me feel better to call out your lousy customer service for what it is.

Andrew
Userlevel 3
Hi @Andrewmk

So sorry that it's got so far. I understand where you are at. I would be venting off if I also hadn't got a working system by now.
I've said several times here, that us customers would feel a lot more sympathetic to OVO if we got clear truthful answers instead of what seems like obfuscation. I was lucky - I was put in touch with a specialist on the SMETS2 team, and got answers I could relate to, and eventually a working system. @Transparent has done a lot here to explain the technical aspects so we can understand why there are delays. Let's hope some magic happens - it must be that, if you don't have solar panels ;-)

best of luck
Tony
Hi Transparent.

Thanks for your posting. Clearly you are very knowledgable about this and I hear what you say. However though Ovo are never anything but polite, but I’m finding it hard to be sympathetic. The problem may not be of their making but they simply appear to have little sense of how this technology works, or how to resolve it when it doesn’t. As an end customer, I shouldn’t care how it works — but I know it doesn’t, and I’m afraid I only have Ovo to talk to.

A typical dialogue (I’ve had many) with Ovo will go something like this:

Me: my smart meters have stopped working.

Ovo: no they haven’t, we’re getting daily readings.

Me: no you’re not.

Ovo: yes we are.

Me: no, really you are not.

Ovo. Oh, no we’re not. We’ve lost comms.

Me: why?

Ovo: we don’t know.

me: what should I do ?

Ovo: wait 3 months.

Me: what will happen in 3 months?

Ovo: we don’t know, let’s wait and see.

Me: will connection resume in 3 months?

Ovo: we don’t know.

Me: oh ok, and if it doesn’t?

Ovo: we’ll swap out your meter for the fourth time.

Me: will the new meter work or will it have the same issues ?

Ovo: we don’t know.

And on it goes, with no end in sight. I wouldn’t have any confidence in buying a toaster from these people.

they are very nice, they are charming — but they don’t know what they are doing.

andrew.

Ask ovo to switch your smart meter to dumb mode which will turn of the smart meter then you can go back to giving manual readings.
Userlevel 1
Hi @Ivor Appleyard

Thanks for the post.

im able to submit manual readings now, even with the smart meters being in ‘smart’ but non-functioning mode.

I’m booked in four a fourth meter swap in November, even though Ovo seemingly have no clue if this will work, as they have no clue why the previous 3 didn’t. They don’t even try to find out. Swapping out is always their only answer.

Im only pursuing this now out of spite —- it’s at their cost to keep swapping these. But they don’t seem to care. And yet the company keeps growing. Damn useless company.

andrew
Userlevel 7
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Hi @Andrewmk.

I've had my second change of Smart Meters on Wednesday (18th Sept). The commissioning process is still under way and there's no live data yet available for me to see online. However, I do now have live data for both gas and electricity visible on my IHD. I haven't had that for either of the two previous sets of SMETS2 hardware.

Can I point out that @BenS_OVO is only here on the Forum so that we can be feeding back useful information to OVO's SMETS2 Team to assist in diagnosing that is going wrong. He's an engineer, and not an official avenue to get problems resolved.

I've had quite a lot of communication with him, but that reflects the copious amount of feedback I've been giving to OVO.

Ben has achieved some success in restoring data-flows with Comms Hubs, and it does seem reasonable that he attempted to do so on your site. However, there are a number of different reasons that the SMETS2 meters fail, and Ben only has a certain number of fixes to try.

In some cases it isn't possible to maintain a reliable data feed, despite code-changes downloaded by Ben which appeared to work for a while. That's what happened in my case. Fixing one fault (the Zigbee link with the gas meter) was successful, but a more serious error then occurred which left OVO unable to continue tests running on my meters.

At that point, OVO have little choice to remove all parts of the SMETS2 installation which appear to be faulty.


I agree with you that OVO are having to face the costs of sending installers to sites and replacing meters. I am unhappy with this because I believe most of the faults being reported are down to failings by others.

Fortuitously, the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a public consultation on Smart Meter Strategy post-2020. I would urge you to read the document and respond with observations and suggestions.

That Consultation isn't the right forum for complaints related to a specific site, but it does allow "us" the ability to shape what will happen in the future. That strategy will necessarily be guided by what we've experienced of the current problems.
Userlevel 1
Hi @Transparent

thanks for your posing. Your obviously very invested in this, very knowledgeable and a great asset to the community.

its plain to see there are more than a few teething problems here. And I accept that — as I’m told over and over this is new technology and I get that. I accept that. I am happy with that as an explanation.

My gripe is less to do with this. it’s with Ovo.

*All* I want is for someone — an individual, *** anyone ** tosay ‘there is a problem here, I’ll work on getting fixed’.

Thats all. I’m a simple man —. I don’t want any more than that.

i don’t care if it is fixed today, tomorrow, next week, next month.

i don’t care.

It is the depressing grind of sending emai after email, of having what I’ve written ignored. It’s with Ovo not reading the case notes, it’s with having to explain the issues over and over and over and over. It’s with having no one point of contact, it’s with every email being dealt with by someone new. It’s with no consistency, it’s with lack of investigation. It’s with each email going to the bottom of the queue taking 2 days to come back. It’s with my issues and complaint being ignored. It’s with being lied to. It’s with being treated as a nuisance. It’s with this crap going on month after month after month after month. It’s with the plague of modern ‘customer service’ of no-one taking ownership of a problem and seeing it through.

You a clearly a great guy and this community needs you. I appreciate your help, I genuinely do.

But it seems nothing will kick Ovo into action. They are now too big to care. As said previously, I’m here to warn others off this terrible company.

Andrew
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I'm just going to tag @Darran_OVO here. @Andrewmk is making some relevant observations here, which Justin might like to consider. (Andrew I realise you don't know who Justin is, but let's leave Darran to mull this over!)

Once a customer is trying to report precise details of what's going wrong with a SMETS installation, it seems that the generic responses from each new CS Staffer aren't scratching where it itches.

I like the idea of a single named contact, although I also realise that the CS roster system is unlikely to support that.

Other organisations use a pseudo name like "Mary Smith" who isn't an individual but is actually a close-knit team of 4 or 5 people who concentrate on one particular issue. Only those issues get bounced to the Mary Smith team and they handle those cases through to their conclusion.

The problem I foresee is that the technical problems with SMETS aren't going to reduce any time soon. There are new geographical areas which are throwing up more complex problems, and DCC is changing its processes too. Thus software issues have a varying range of symptoms which get reported.

a. It can take at least a month before a new SMETS2 installation is fully functional and part of the Billing System.

b. It takes another month before an Engineer can return to site and change part or all the installed kit.

c. It takes a couple of weeks before the OVO SMETS2 Team can confirm that all is now working.

These delays mean that a Smart Meter installation failure takes longer to resolve than the 1+8 weeks timescales enshrined in the Complaints Procedure.

I my case, I have yet to experience fully operational SMETS2 meters since my first engineer's visit on 11mar19; that's over six months ago. I haven't complained, but I'm not a "normal customer"!

I'm actually enjoying learning more about the SMETS systems by watching faults being diagnosed and corrected.

But for most customers, this is growing extremely frustrating. Something needs to change in the handling of customers reporting Smart Meter faults before OVO receives an ever-increasing number of formal complaints.
Userlevel 7
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@Andrewmk and @Transparent thanks for continuing to share your experience and feedback.

Although for you, not an ideal situation, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes with this new tech to improve the number of successful installs. We are currently around 80% +, which is still not high enough, SMETS1 install success is over 90%, but provides some context on the huge number of successful SMETS2 meters we have installed and that are working as expected.

As you know, there are a large number of variables, which are not simple to resolve, hence we are completing huge amounts of testing on an ongoing basis (that @Transparent was witness too during the VIP day).

We (and the rest of the industry) are constantly testing:
-Right meter for the right location
-Right Firmware for the meters
-The Hardware that is constantly evolving
-The variation of Comms Hubs for a specific meter set up

We need to constantly test all of these things and more against not only our systems but the DCC as well.

@Andrewmk in your specific case, we definitely need to resolve this, but we won't officially class a meter as out of comms, or not communicating until 3 months have passed, as we've found through testing that after a period of time, some meters start communicating which resolves the issues, or there will be a new update to firmware in that time (it's constantly being updated and improved), that will fix the issue. You can still read the meter manually I believe (again not ideal, but at least that is still possible).

Also worth noting that @BenS_OVO has definitely taken on board the feedback re the lack of information when you've been in touch about this. He's going to raise directly with the teams involved to make sure all the information and reasoning is given when customers call in with issues.
Userlevel 1
Hi @Darran_OVO

i appreciate your post.

But again, I need to keep stressing this — it doesn’t address the way you treat your customers.

its great that you are working behind the scenes to resolve problems. But you are pushing out a product with up to 20% failure rate.

in the first instance — that is appalling. But let’s this put to one side for now.

Think about the customer, not the meter. Up to 20% of your smart meter customers have a product that does not work. How do you treat them?

You have first line line customer support agents who seemingly have targets of emails / calls answered not problems fixed. They are unskilled to answer many issues but refuse to escalate to those who can.

i repeat:-

Emails are largely ignored, issues not addressed, promises not kept. Promised return calls not made. Agents give conflicting information. And all of this can happen because every last call or email is answered by someone new., someone who doesn’t read the notes, someone who can can gloss over the problem because they know they won’t be handling the next call I make or email I send. There is no need to treat the customer well as nobody has ownership of the issue for more than 5 minutes.

So, sorry, your explanation doesn’t cut it with me. 11 months and counting with this. I have made numerous requests for compensation for having to arrange what will be my fifth period off work to be available for your engineer — all ignored.

You are free to fix the meters as you wish. But until you do, the problem is yours, not the customers. Stop treating your customers like they are the problem.


Andrew
Userlevel 5
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You're right @Andrewmk, this is not the customers problem and I'm really sorry to hear your feel that we are putting this on you.

Regardless of the situation we pride ourselves on our customer service, frankly the experience you have described is not good enough.

I would urge you to contact our team and raise a complaint so that we can get the customer service aspect of your experience looked into.

You can send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or email the team on hello@ovoenergy.com, or give them a call. You can reach our Customer Care team 9-5 Monday-Friday on 0330 303 5063.

I hope this helps!
Userlevel 1
Hello @Amy_OVO

i have raised a complaint.

i have been told that you will not enter into discuss about compensation until the issue is resolved.

You can look at my complaint reference 05420768, and Jame’s email to me of 10th September.

i am booked in for my fourth meter in November. It has taken from June (when the electric meter stopped communicating) to get this far.

i very much hope that the fourth meter will stay on line, but I have been told you cannot guarantee this.

In as much as no-one can guarantee anything, I understand that completely.

So do I have to wait a week to see if it stays online, or a month, or maybe 6? If the new meter doesn’t work, will you again refuse to talk compensation until you install a fifth? I don’t know.

You have my complaint ref, pull it up — take a look. If you don’t have access to my account, call James in ‘complaint resolution’, and let me know what to do next.

Andrew
Hey @Chasdob.



There's 2 important things to remember. First is we are all learning about this new technology and there have been some growing pains. I think we are in a very positive position now and please bare with this new technology, I assure you they are the way forward for the industry. They exist to make energy cheaper for all and (most important) make us all more mindful of how and when we use our energy. The difference between this and any 'normal' new tech trail is we are at the whim of a lot of government and industry regulation that has been put upon all energy suppliers. Could we have done things better? yes, but please keep in mind we are all about building the best customer journey and we we want you to be happy and stay with us forever (That sounds almost sinister).
Second point is with our customer services; although they have been doing amazing things by helping out our customers with S2 issues, it's new to them also and it will take them some time to really get on top of everything (and as we are discovering new things all the time this can be a difficult process). They are a lovely bunch of guys so please be patient with them.

I am really happy this forum is growing and I'll do my best to help as much as I can going forward. I'm going to try and be more of a presence on here that you guys can use. I don't know everything (if anything) but I can always find someone within OVO (or the wider industry) who can help.


Hi Ben, in response to your comments (albeit a little while ago) I'd like to add my own.

This 'new technology' isn't that new and when your customers agreed to have SMETS2 fitted they expected a working system, at least that's what was sold to them. If you bought a car and it once it had rolled off the lorry and handed over it was left with 3 wheels you wouldn't be happy - although you would have some recourse in this case. What recourse do your customers have?

If the units are not being supplied to you correctly (as suggested earlier on the forum) configured as agreed then why do you continue to take delivery and subsequently install them. In a similar vein why don't OVO get the sufficient resources in to correct the situation and back-charge the supplier.

I could go on out of frustration but I will close with this. The forum may be growing, should you really be happy about that?
Userlevel 7
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That's a good, clear, powerful argument @enterpryse

... and interestingly I've just given a diametrically opposite view on this other Topic!

I don't think OVO would be prepared to say in this public Forum what (legal) action they may be pursuing against the suppliers of the SMETS2 hardware, firmware, telecommunications and services, but I'd be surprised if there weren't some level of formal complaint being filed.

I don't think anyone in the domestic energy business is wanting to actually throw money at litigation, but I would hope that Ofgem is seeking redress from suppliers on behalf of those, like OVO, who are having to make multiple site visits to exchange meters.

Actually I think OVO will be pleased to see more feedback on this growing Forum about Smart Meters. It's proving very helpful to identify the faults and categorise them. Sometimes us customers are able to assist each other in better describing a fault, which is also useful.

The whole discussion of Smart Meters is going to roll on for a great deal longer. There's lots of other technology coming along which will sit on top of the SMETS2 system. Customer awareness and perception is important in deciding how to present these products, so our comments will be required for many years hence.
It's crazy how much these smart meters are being pushed considering they have so many basic issues.

I was tempted to switch to a smart meter but I am going to have to wait it out untill they...actually work.

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