Gas appliance at risk notices issued incorrectly during Smart meter installation


Userlevel 2

I have posted elsewhere about the trials of my smart meter installation, but this is more serious than just a delay and has warranted a formal complaint to ovo today. I wanted to write about my experience here to let other customers know.
 

When the engineer called to fit the smart meter (second attempt as the first engineer left it not working, but that's the other story) he noticed a small drop in pressure from the supply which indicated a leak somewhere. Within tolerance. He then asked me about the freestanding kitchen boiler ventilation and had a look at the vent there. He also looked at the gas coal effect fire in the lounge. Before he left her issued two at risk notices saying there was no ventilation in the lounge for the fire or the kitchen for the boiler. It says I refused to allow the boiler to be made safe so a danger do not use label is attached (which it isn't) and that the lounge fire supply isolated. 

 

My plumbing and heating engineer called today and sorted the small leak under the gas hob. I asked him about the at risk notices I'd had. He said the kitchen boiler has adequate ventilation and that can be clearly seen and the fire is under 7kw and therefore doesn't need separate ventilation  

 

So the field engineer has issued two warning notices that should not have been issued. It's had me very worried and now turns out unnecessarily. I find this really quite shocking and have read other posts where there has been over zealous use of the rules. 

 

I'd be interested to hear comments from others and if anyone else has had a similar problem. 


19 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Hiya!

I’ve just got home after being out all day. I’m currently catching up with the forum so I’ll post a proper reply shortly. Please bear with me for a bit while I read your opening post.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Ok, I think I’ve got an understanding now. Sorry for the wait @Dellara !

There’s actually another recent thread which may be of interest, so please feel free to check out this one too.

However, as you did take the time to post here, (welcome back by the way!), I think it is only fair that I also take some time to reply properly.

OVO’s Field Force engineers do have a duty of care to members, but one of the overall priorities is safety, which is right at the top and pretty much nothing comes beyond it. I’m really sorry if this has led to a bad experience. I’ve notified @Tim_OVO and @Jess_OVO so this will be fed back to the teams from this side as well. This will not affect your use of the complaints process as feedback raised here on the forum is handled via a different route.

To avoid interference with that process and prevent a Conflict of Interest, I won’t go into any discussions here that are related to what I suspect might be in any complaints. I’m only a forum volunteer so I don’t have access to those records, but I can hazard a guess as to what to avoid.

I think it is worth pointing out however, that it’s better to err on the side of caution than it is to err on the side of ignorance. There are limits as to what OVO’s engineers can do and this is mainly dictated by their qualifications and licenses. For example, while Gas Safe Registered Engineers are allowed to fiddle with gas appliances, this doesn’t give them a free pass to tinker with absolutely anything and everything - they can only work with what Gas Safe has approved.

OVO’s Field Force Engineers don’t have permission to rip covers off boilers and start poking about, but they do have permission to do basic visual inspections during other jobs. If possible issues are noticed, they are allowed to take temporary (or in extreme cases, permanent) remedial action to help eliminate or at very least mitigate the issue until a qualified engineer can take a proper look and resolve the issue if needed. OVO will trust an engineers report from a qualified third party as evidence that such issues have been resolved or were not present. But unless you want a huge exploding fireball bomb in your house, I’d say it’s better to allow the engineer to take action so that you’re at least kept safe until a second opinion can be obtained.

I would personally feel that any such warning notices are valid at the time of issue, since I’d rather get an early warning heads up now, even if it later turns out to be a false positive. After all, a false positive is better than a false negative because at least the former won’t result in your house going up in a huge explosion.

In fairness to OVO’s engineers, they also can’t realistically be trained on absolutely every possible product, scenario, use case, environment and all the other variables unrelated to their main job role. That’s just a little bit too much to expect a single engineer to learn after all.

Userlevel 2

Thanks for the response. I appreciate you are only a volunteer here, but I'm sorry. What you say is not relevant. Yes, I did read the other thread. However my situation is different. The field engineer told me I needed to turn off my gas fire because there wasn't a vent in the lounge. He then issued an at risk notice. However the regulations state that a gas fire under 7kw does not require separate venting. At no time did he ask for specifications to ascertain this. And my fire is under 7kw. 

 

Secondly he said there was no vent in the kitchen for the free standing boiler. There is and it is obvious to see. He issued an at risk notice for this too. This has nothing to do with tinkering. It's just basic knowledge. 

 

So in both cases he was factually incorrect. The least he should have done is get a second opinion before issuing the notices.  He worried me unnecessarily. To me there appears to be a conflict between knowledge and ovo liability and I as the customer am caught in the middle of it. 

 

Userlevel 7

 

So the field engineer has issued two warning notices that should not have been issued. It's had me very worried and now turns out unnecessarily. I find this really quite shocking and have read other posts where there has been over zealous use of the rules. 

 

 

I’m really sorry to hear that the actions taken by our engineer caused you undue stress, @Dellara .

 

Whilst we can’t know exactly the reason the engineer chose to issue the ‘at risk’ notices for your gas appliances and would not want to comment on whether this was the right call to make - it is worth bearing in mind that our engineers do have a duty of care to make sure that any potential safety concerns are raised when they visit your home to carry out meter work, ultimately it’s to make sure your supply is safe to use.

 

 

I have posted elsewhere about the trials of my smart meter installation, but this is more serious than just a delay and has warranted a formal complaint to ovo today.
 

 

Raising a formal complaint will allow us to investigate the issue further for you and will ensure we can improve our services. If our engineer did act over cautiously, this is can be fed back to the engineer in question to avoid others facing a similar experience in future, so is always worth contacting our Support Team if you aren’t happy following a Smart Meter installation.

 

Hope that this is resolved quickly for you and you can start enjoying the benefits of your new smart meters.

 

Userlevel 5
Badge

This seems like a pattern. 

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

It seems that the meter installers have basic training in gas safety, but not enough to make any reasoned judgement. I accept that the rules are complex, but why let people turn off your heating that clearly do not have a decent grasp of gas safety? That should really be in the hand of experts who install and maintain them correctly. 

Questioning the choice of the installer based on a little knowledge may be a risk mitigation measure, but turning of the gas is much less acceptable. 

On the plus side, the pressure test did find a small leak. I also had a hint from our plumber about gas safety, and I am very happy that they recommend actions to pre-empt potential problems. Maybe it is just a question of communication. 

Userlevel 2

I agree that they seem to be dabbling in something they have no experience of. I'll just go back to my point about the gas fire in my lounge. The Ovo field engineer issued an at risk and do not use notice on this through lack of ventilation. It does not need it because of the output. He should have known this or at least found out. To condemn it as he did is not acceptable. Same with the boiler in the kitchen. 

 

Erring on the side of caution is fine, as long as that is backed up by knowledge. 

 

Phil 

Userlevel 2

Just an update from a very angry and disappointed Ovo customer. I'm afraid I have got nowhere with my complaint and the situation is now compounded by being lied to, telling me I had signed an acknowledgement of the notices after having them explained which I didn't.   So I'll contact Ofgem.  

 

In the meantime my smart meter still does not work properly. I can't get a daily reading and the month usage looks very dubious with the same amount for a number of days. 

 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Hi there @Dellara ,

I think I know what’s going on here, but I’ll address each item in turn, based on the order you’ve mentioned it in your latest reply.

Firstly, I’m afraid you can’t contact Ofgem about energy supplier complaints. You don’t have any recourse to complain to Ofgem and they’ll either immediately redirect you back to OVO or signpost you to the Energy Ombudsman instead. If you’ve reached a Deadlock with OVO’s complaints process, the Energy Ombudsman is the place to go next for further help.

I don’t know what’s been said during the complaints process so far, so I’m unable to comment on that.

As for your smart meter, it looks like it might still be in the commissioning process and is current running in Daily mode - which is the default setting unless you specify otherwise. The Daily tab in the app is used for Half-Hourly mode so you’ll want to check the Monthly tab to see your daily usage stats. You can change the setting to Half-Hourly mode if you’d like to and the Support Team can do that for you. But it may take a few days for it to go through.

When a meter is still being commissioned, it can appear as if things are unstable - this is normal and will settle down after the full process completes.

Please hang in there for now and you should see improvements soon.

Userlevel 2

Honestly I don't know what to think about the smart meter. I keep being told to wait and it will sort. I was told 6 weeks from the beginning of April and here we are 10 days into June and it's still not working. I'm also concerned that when I click on my meter reading sometimes it comes up well done. You have a smart meter and don't need to submit readings. Then it will change and say we can't get a reading, would you mind submitting one. 

 

The fact that I am still not able to see proper usage data after over two months is just ridiculous. I'm kind of losing the will to live with it, if you hadn't noticed. I wish I could just leave and go somewhere else, but am now locked into a two year fixed deal and do not have the energy (pun intended) to battle this out. The curt response I received today in answer to my previous concerns was the icing on the cake. 

 

As for your comment at the start “I think I know what is going on”?  I'm not quite sure what you mean here. Please tell me because I don't  

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

I should probably mention that I know the commissioning processes well for both SMETS1 and SMETS2 meters. I’ve gone all the way from a traditional meter to SMETS1 back with SSE, then from SMETS1 to SMETS2 with OVO via the national upgrade process and then to full S2 with OVO all while living at the same address. Not many people can say that they’ve gone through that route.

Forum Volunteers such as myself never run out of energy and we don’t give up hope that easily. I’m able to help with a lot more than you might think. The flow of conversations I have with other members guides me towards potential theories and solutions, so the better the information I can gather from a member seeking help, the more closely I can follow the right path to a solution.

What you’re describing is very similar to what I've seen with both S1 and S2 installs and is completely normal. It actually took three months to get my old S1 meter working with SSE back in the day and three or four months to get it fully upgraded and migrated to S2 firmware and connected with OVO because that process is extremely slow compared to a brand new S2 commission. It can take anywhere between six to eight weeks to commission meters, but sometimes more stuff has to happen afterwards and the timer doesn’t always start as soon as the meter is installed. OVO can change the setting to Half-Hourly on request, simply let the Support Team know and they’ll make the arrangements. But you do have to be patient as there's currently a LOT of S1 meters being upgraded to S2 firmware and migrated to DCC right now - this can cause backlogs to be longer than normal. Your usage data will become available over time. It wouldn’t matter which supplier installed the meters - the process and experience is the same.

What you’re seeing in MyOVO is also normal for when a smart meter doesn’t communicate for over five days. I can’t fix those issues, but I have ways of offering advice.

However, I can help with a “mini health check”. For this, I need to ask you four questions.

  1. Do you have gas and electric smart meters, or just an electric smart meter?
  2. What are the makes and models of your meters?
  3. What is the Make and Model/Type of your Comms Hub on top of the electric meter?
  4. If you look at the Comms Hub, there should be some lights that pulse every so often. Please tell me which lights pulse and how long the intervals are between each pulse.

With this, I can offer more advice on what to do next. If needed, you can submit the same answers to the Support Team as part of an S2 Smart Meter Health Check later on.

Userlevel 7

 

Honestly I don't know what to think about the smart meter. I keep being told to wait and it will sort. I was told 6 weeks from the beginning of April and here we are 10 days into June and it's still not working. I'm also concerned that when I click on my meter reading sometimes it comes up well done. You have a smart meter and don't need to submit readings. Then it will change and say we can't get a reading, would you mind submitting one. 

 

Really understandable frustration - 6 weeks is the usual time frame to get your Smart Meter setup and displaying useful usage info on your online account, so sorry that you’re still waiting.

 

There’s a couple of things to check which might be behind the issue, which our community volunteer @Blastoise186 has already identified:

 

Reading schedules - You can decide how often your meter is set to send us a reading, with some online usage graph views only showing if you’ve chosen the half-hourly reading schedule option. If you’re not sure which reading schedule you selected or want to change this our Support Team can update this for you.

 

Communication Issues - If it’s over 6 weeks since the meters were installed and the missing usage data can’t be explained by the reading schedule issue this could indicate a communication issue between us and the meter (this may be intermittent) - the best way to check this would be to carry out a Smart meter health check - The results of this can help our Support Team investigate what might be causing the issue.

 

 

The fact that I am still not able to see proper usage data after over two months is just ridiculous. I'm kind of losing the will to live with it, if you hadn't noticed. I wish I could just leave and go somewhere else, but am now locked into a two year fixed deal and do not have the energy (pun intended) to battle this out. The curt response I received today in answer to my previous concerns was the icing on the cake. 

 

 

Also disappointed to hear that you’ve yet to receive a resolution to the complaint you raised in response to your installation issues. We have a complaint escalation process which is clearly outlined here - if we can’t resolve things internally you’re able to take this to the Energy Ombudsman but they’d advise following our internal complaints procedure and receiving a deadlock letter first. I’d recommend contacting either our Support Team or the complaint agent directly to escalate things further at this point.

 

Really hoping we can get things sorted for you and you can begin enjoying the benefits of your new smart meters.

Userlevel 2

Thanks Blastoise and Jess for the input which I do appreciate. When Blastoise said I think I know what is going on it didn't seem to be directed at the meter issue, but more generally and thought I was on some blacklist! Lol 

 

I will try the health check. Will go in the meter cupboard and work through it and report back. 

 

I've calmed down a little now, but the content of the reply yesterday had me pretty fuming. The response from the field team is just not true and this makes me angry. I'll copy and paste the response I received (there is no sensitive information in it) so you can see how short and sharp it is. No apology. 

 

 

"The depot manager has been contacted, and he has confirmed that the engineer did the right thing as they will always air on the side of caution. He was happy he took the relevant actions. The engineer left the paper work with the member and the member signed the paper work once he explained everything."

 

Our engineers have a responsibility to our members safety and as such will always air on the side of caution when it comes to leaving a safety notice - if they are unsure if an appliance is safe, they will leave a safety notice so the member is aware. It is then down to the member to decide what action they take off the back of that information. 

 

As our engineer took the correct action we will not be providing any compensation or goodwill.

 

Not the way I expect to be treated. It's nothing to do with the money, but rather the principal and the worry it caused me. 

 

Just to repeat on the erring on the side of caution, a DO NOT USE notice was left with me (which I was not given the opportunity to sign) for both my boiler and gas fire, both of which were unnecessary. The fire isn't of sufficient output to require a vent, but no mention of this as a possibility was ever made. Just "switch it off and don't use it”.   The kitchen clearly has a vent for the boiler. I supplied photos, but nothing was said about them. Just the reply above. 

 

Ok. I'm away to do a smart meter health check!

 

Userlevel 2

Here you go with the details for the health check :

 

Do you have gas and electric smart meters, or just an electric smart meter?

 

Both

 

What are the makes and models of your meters?

 

What is the Make and Model/Type of your Comms Hub on top of the electric meter?

If you look at the Comms Hub, there should be some lights that pulse every so often. Please tell me which lights pulse and how long the intervals are between each pulse.

 

All of them except the mesh light pulse every five seconds. The mesh doesn't light at all. 

Userlevel 2

Thanks for any suggestions. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Ah ha, nice. You’ve got the exact same setup as I have with Raichu then. The Aclara SGM1400 Series is currently pretty much the best smart meter you can get in the UK, especially when paired up with Flonidan UniFlo or Flonidan SciFlo.

It sounds like the meters themselves are healthy - the MESH light being blank is fine, since you’ve got an SKU1 Comms Hub anyway and MESH isn’t supported on those. Given that all the other lights pulse every five seconds, here’s what that tells me:

  • SW - Software. Status is healthy and software is running fine
  • WAN - Wide Area Network. Status is healthy, a connection to DCC is active and the WAN link is working properly
  • MESH - Mesh Network. Status is null and the light is blank because the MESH isn’t being used anyway and there’s no active connections
  • HAN - Home Area Network. Status is healthy. Devices have been detected and paired and they’re all communicating just fine
  • GAS - Gas Meter. Status is healthy. A Gas meter is paired to the HAN via the Gas Proxy and is communicating properly

It sounds to me as if the issue might just be down to the meters taking longer to commission than expected. The Support Team can take a look at this deeper than I can. When you next chat with them, please send them a link to this thread and let them know Blastoise186 has been helping you out. It will speed things up as I’m well known for puzzle solving.

Userlevel 7

Thanks for updating us with those meter details, @Dellara .

 

As our community volunteer , @Blastoise186 has already sussed out -

 

 

It sounds like the meters themselves are healthy

 

If you haven’t already it would be worth forwarding the same info over to our Support Team. They can take a look at what else might be the cause of the issue - don’t forget to check that the reading schedule is set to either daily or half-hourly reads as well!

 

Hope we can get to the bottom of this - let us know the outcome and if there’s anything more we can do to help here. :slight_smile:

Userlevel 2

If you haven’t already it would be worth forwarding the same info over to our Support Team. They can take a look at what else might be the cause of the issue - don’t forget to check that the reading schedule is set to either daily or half-hourly reads as well!

How do I check that?  I have a feeling it's set for half hourly. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

No worries, I can help with that.

The default setting is Daily if you don’t specify any preference, but if you request Half-Hourly or Monthly upfront, this will get configured as part of the commissioning process. I haven’t yet discovered any way to check the setting on the meter itself, but I’m currently reading the entire user manual again just in case.

The Support Team have access to tools that I can use myself and these include at least one that can query the settings and change them if desired. But if the meters aren’t yet fully commissioned, it might not be possible to use that tool. However, you can still make a request anyway and it’ll be actioned as soon as possible.

Userlevel 7

 

How do I check that?  I have a feeling it's set for half hourly. 

 

As @Blastoise186 suggests this isn’t something you can check on the meter itself but our Support Team are able to check and change your reading schedule, @Dellara

 

Keep us posted as to whether this solves the issue. 

Reply