Smart meters not worth the pain?

Userlevel 1
Ok not looking for any resolution from Ovo to my issues as they are long-standing and communication is ongoing.

just a word to the wise —- if you are thinking of taking Smart Meters, I would hold off, at least for now.

They simply don’t work — at least for any length of time. I’ve had nearly a year of nonsense — they only occasionally return any readings, ALWAYS show nonsense on the IHD, except one of either the gas or electric drops off the display entirely. And while all of this is going on your billing will be screwed up, and you’ll receive little sympathy when faced with a large bill.

And Ovo’s overriding response is: well you are still getting gas and electric to the house, and I can still provide manual readings, so what’s my problem ??

its a crap product and it doesn’t work. Don’t have them foist these awful things on you.


77 replies

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 7
Badge +2
@tony1tf Well this has made my Friday....! This is GREAT news, not just good news.

I know, I know, lets not get too excited, but really glad to hear this is for the most part resolved for you now Tony!

Great to see you and your solar panels taking advantage of the great weather we are having right now. Have a good weekend.

Userlevel 7
Badge +3
There's not a lot I can say about these screenshots @tony1tf

except that these are errors which surely ought to be notified by email to Customer Support.

You are seeing far more data from your SMETS2 meters than I ever have.

Userlevel 7
Badge +3
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 1
Ahh, something else Ovo can add to their list of things to fix 😋

Userlevel 2
Hey @Andrewmk.
I'll send you a private message as I need to get your account info from you.
Userlevel 3
This forum may be pleased to know that my IHD is still showing my electricity readings after the meter/firmware upgrade on 4th July 2019, and as from 18th July I can now see 1/2 hour readings on the OVO My Energy/usage website. I would still like someone with knowledge at OVO to explain the process which creates such a delay before the data is displayed - not guesses from people who don't work for the Smart Meter team.

Userlevel 7
Badge +2
Great news @tony1tf glad to hear everything is now working for you 🤞 The power of the forum hey...!

Yeah it's a good point, trust me, no guesses from us, just passing on the details we've been advised to share with customers, so no need to be patronising! We are only here to try and help! 💪

Perhaps @BenS_OVO could help us on this one??

Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Well, I'm pretty sure this isn't a SMETS2 issue @tony1tf. So don't be surprised if we don't hear from @BenS_OVO about this.

The online graphs in your My OVO page are generated after the data has been retrieved from DCC and sent to Billing.

I'd really like to have created a diagram showing how the data gets from Smart Meters to the My OVO page for each customer. Unfortunately, I'd be working somewhat blind, because I have never yet seen any usage histograms on my own My OVO page in the 4months since the meters were installed.

I'm not concerned about that, but it's a tad difficult drawing diagrams of stuff I haven't seen with my own eyes!
Userlevel 3
Mine just updated to "waiting for God"
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
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.

If your smart meters are SMETS2, there is an ongoing discussion from some of those affected here

You may wish to add something to this discussion - those involved may be able to give you some more advice.
Userlevel 1
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.

Userlevel 7
Badge +3
That's still useful feedback @Andrewmk

There are two people in OVO who need to read what you've just written.

The first is Justin, who is the Manager of Customer Services. I was able to talk with him over lunch a couple of weeks ago. He is favourable towards the Forum, and I was able to put to him two particular cases where OVO's procedures were needlessly making more work for his staff.

It's clear that the SMETS2 failings aren't going to get resolved in the next few days, and possibly not within the 8 week time-frame during which OVO must respond to any customer who implements their complaints procedure. So Justin will need to know that the SMETS2 Team must provide his staff with better information before they get deluged under a pile of complaints!

The second person who needs to know what you're facing is Ben, a member of the SMETS2 Engineering Team. He's monitoring technical points being made here on the Forum. But he needs accurate information such as dates when meter engineers attended, whether you've got PV panels or an EV charger etc.

So for Ben's benefit please

a. fill out your Forum Profile with basic background details. Some faults may be geographically based, so such information is important.

b. state here any further observations you may have, such as "the gas meter never communicated with my IHD" or "the electricity meter stopped sending data to OVO after n weeks".

That means others can read what you've written, and say "me too" or whatever.

I'll now tag @Darran_OVO because he's the Forum Manager, and he'll ensure the two relevant members of staff get to see this Topic.

I'm now away for 24hrs because I'm meeting up with representatives & engineers from my DNO (Western Power) tomorrow. So I won't be responding further here.

And, yes, I know that the Forum-software has just removed my first reply to you, but that's due to a software bug. The duty Moderator tomorrow (@Amy_OVO or @Tim_OVO ?) will fish it out of the bin and re-post it here.
Userlevel 7
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Sorry @Andrewmk - the Forum software is being quite vindictive towards me this evening. It's re-routed both of responses to you into the Spam bin! Aaaagh!

The Moderators will retrieve them in the morning (@Amy_OVO or @Tim_OVO ?). It's a known bug which hits me more than other users. So I'm keeping this message short in the hope I can get it uploaded before the gremlins notice I'm still here! 😧
Userlevel 1
Well ok, Transparent, I’ll provide what I can.

First Smets2’s went in at beginning of October 18, but never appeared to work so I won’t go into that.

Their engineer Tim, great guy (knows his stuff), replaced the electric SMETS2 with a revision model. He had gas and electric working on the day he left. Both returned daily readings which showed in the app and the IHD also showed dual fuel. Things were great from 16/4 for six days, and then the electric dropped off the IHD and there were no further daily readings for electric uploaded.

Ovo had no idea what was going on, and had no suggestions other than to do another swap.

Tim was back with a third electric meter and comms unit on 5th June. Again everything just worked — but the electric dropped off on 31st June.

Gas has been fine throughout — Ovo tell me the electric meter has stopped communicating with the comms unit, (even though they are linked ??) but don’t know why.

LEDs always show normal (all flash in unison apart from mesh - every 5 seconds).

Only advice I’m given is to wait 3 months — see what happens.

hope this helps.
Userlevel 3
@Darran_OVO @Tim_OVO @Nancy_OVO
@Transparent @Leo Moran @aaronr @UC Bear @PeterR1947 @NoPoke

A phone call to OVO customer service got me through to the tech team, and they managed to turn on my electricity readings, which hadn't happened after 3 hours without my intervention.
The operator also says that they will be emailing me about the solar panel problem. So, here's hoping it's sorted. I do note, however, that the electricity cost readings are rubbish - probably a known fault for all?
Userlevel 5
I've moved your posts over here, @tony1tf!
Userlevel 3
Hi @Darran_OVO @Transparent et al

Good news this morning! Electricity meter readings still happening, and a phone call from Nick at the SMETS2 tech team. They have successfully uploaded new firmware to the meter, so he was happy for me to turn the solar panels back on - exactly 24 hours after I had disabled them (£5 OVO?) Also a reset of the IHD got the correct electricity prices showing. Nick says they will be keeping an eye on our readings as we have now become a bit of a test case (or is it cause célèbre?).
I was looking at a smart meter website and see now why the reverse meter current could cause problems - the meter sends error messages because we might be fiddling the system by reconnecting the meter backwards. Apparently the generation side of OVO software is not yet available, but as long as they know that I have solar panels they wont be sending round the electricity police!
The panels have now been running for over 1 hour at over 3kW in this lovely weather, so I am charging the car at 3.6kW and seeing a residual power draw from the grid of around 900W.
Hopefully you wont hear any more from me about failures in SMETS2 meters. Although, I am led to believe it could be a few weeks before our usage appears on OVO's MyEnergy - the next milestone.
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Hmm. I think this needs further clarification @tony1tf. Most (less-technical) members of this Forum might reach one of two conclusions:

a. Your installation of SMETS2 meters in July 2018 combined with your particular arrangement of grid-connected PV panels resulted in a unique set of circumstances whereby your electricity meter was unable to send data to the Communications Hub bolted above it.

b. SMETS2 meters and grid-connected PV panels are a combination which is not supported.

Personally, I believe that neither of these conclusions is valid.

If (a) were true, then you've just had your SMETS2 meters configured in a way which is different to everyone else, which breaks the concept of SMETS2 universality.

If (b) were true, then there would be uproar from the thousands of people in GB who have grid-connected micro-generation.

I'd like to hear somewhat more fulsome feedback from OVO's SMETS2 Team about what's happening please!

Let's remember that four other members of this Forum with SMETS2 meters installed during 2019 have also reported in the last fortnight that they too are experiencing no readings from their electricity meter. Two have confirmed that they have no grid-connected generation.

So are these completely different faults?

Or would they too benefit from the code changes that seem to have resolved your situation?
Userlevel 1
Hi @tony1tf

I’m glad you have yours sorted.

i did (with much effort) get through to the specialists at the smart meter team.

As above, I spoke with Reece, polite and professional as everyone is, I can’t fault them for that. but it was Reece who told me they will take no action for 3 months. When asked why, it was to see if the electric meter reestablishes connection to the comms unit. I get what you say, how can they resolve this if connection is lost ?? I don’t know. I am powerless to do anything. they won’t even remove the damn things (for dumb meters) unless I pay £110.

Userlevel 7
Badge +3
Hi @Andrewmk - This is just to let you know that Forum Feedback was one of the major subjects we raised with staff when some of us visited OVO a month ago.

The Forum is a greatly under-used resource, and we discussed why OVO weren't making better use of the wide range of skill-sets available from Members here.

The number-1 issue was that we are getting hardly any feedback to the Forum in return for the amount of information that we fed into OVO. That significantly dampens our willingness to engage in discussion here.

I can understand the necessity of taking discussions off the public Forum pages if there's a need to mention privileged information covered by GDPR rules. However, it would be beneficial to know if OVO engineers have now deduced what is the cause of an error, or if they still require detailed observations to be reported here.

That's why I posted above:
Any chance we could be given a whole lot more feedback on the stuff we're busy reporting please?

and why @tony1tf vented his frustration earlier today. (He was also present at Bristol when Forum-feedback was discussed).

Just so you know, one of the Ninjas (Super-users) has just posted an item onto our private area of the Forum which suggests a possible reason as to why we see so many Smart Meter failures. I'm investigating this further, and I've flagged it up to a particular engineer at OVO who can also take a look at it.

Please forgive us for not immediately making this point more widely known on the open Forum. It would be unwise to cause others to jump to conclusions which could yet turn out to be incorrect.
Userlevel 1
Hi @Transparent

Thanks for the info re the private forums.

I must confess if it if it weren’t for my Smart meter issues, Ovo’s forums aren’t somewhere I’d be hanging out. A combo of it not being knowledgable enough and it just not being my ‘thing’ I guess. This is a friendlier place than most though — i have nightmares still about the flame wars on Sonos’s forum.

You hinted at a possible cause for the failing electricity meters. Are you able to give any more details?

Userlevel 6
Badge +4
Water pistol at the ready 💧💧

Let me know if there's anything I can help with @Andrewmk
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?