Question

Possible faulty gas smart meter


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My daughter has just moved into her new home and none of the gas appliances are working but all seemed OK when we were moving her in over the last few weeks. We called the gas emergency line and after asking her to push some buttons on the smart meter have advised it's faulty and she needs to contact OVO but they appear to be closed, have no emergency contact number and are shut until, we believe Tuesday. Any suggestions or help would be much appreciated. 


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Userlevel 7
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Hi there @Prefdavid !

Sorry about that. I’m afraid I don’t have any emergency contacts for you either, but it’s possible that someone in the Social Media Team might be watching OVO’s social media accounts in the meantime. Otherwise, yup. The office will re-open on Tuesday.

As I’m only a forum volunteer, I wouldn’t be able to arrange an Emergency Meter Exchange for you, but I can try to help with diagnostics, just in case. Please could you post some photos of the meter in question, ideally at least one wide shot showing the entire meter, and another close up of the display when it’s lit up and clearly visible. I’ll be able to identify it from those and see if I can suggest anything.

Thanks

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Hi @Blastoise186  and thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to reply.  We'll go round to her house tomorrow morning and take the photos as she's back with us for now.

Regards

David 

Userlevel 7
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No worries.

At very least, I’ll be able to confirm the supply status and whether the meter has detected a fault. While I have more experience doing this with Secure Liberty and Flonidan UniFlo as those are the ones OVO has used, I can usually figure it out for just about anything.

While you’re there, could you also grab some photos of the electric meter please? It might not be relevant, but it sometimes helps me out - and I can also check to see if there’s any obvious issues with it. If you look at the Communications Hub above the electric meter as well, you should see some lights. Please let me know which lights it has, which ones flash/pulse (if any) and how often they do so. As with the gas meter, photos clearly showing the electric meter display as well as wider shots definitely help.

Thanks!

Userlevel 1

Here's some pictures of the meters. When we press the A button they both show Vend Mode but  the electricity is on but not the gas. Only be here for 30 minutes or so but can come back tomorrow if you need more pictures.  The only light flashing on the electric meter is the WAN light that flashes four times every 4/5 seconds. 

Regards

David 

Userlevel 7
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Ah ha, perfect!

And a good thing I actively monitor the forum then, even on weekends. I think this reply will catch you just in time, as long as I type quickly (I’m pretty good at that).

Looks like this is actually a Boost PAYG setup, but since you’re here anyway, I’ll help you out. Usually, I’d need to send you over to the Boost Forum at https://forum.boostpower.co.uk for PAYG stuff, but a dead meter is a dead meter regardless of which side you’re on. You’ll want to discuss this with the Boost Support Team on Tuesday to get this fixed up. They might actually be around right now, so try the live chat on https://www.boostpower.co.uk/ - it’s the yellow bubble on the right or call 0330 102 7517.

It would appear that the gas meter is definitely faulty - it doesn’t even seem to know the status of the supply for starters. If you look at the plug symbol on the electric meter, you’ll see how it shows ON next to it - which is what you want. The other states are READY (meaning the supply is off but the meter is ready to restore) and OFF (meaning you’re off-supply).

The gas meter isn’t showing any of these statuses, which is definitely a sign it’s dead and will need to be replaced.

By the way, you might want to consider switching over to OVO so that your daughter can be on Pay Monthly - it tends to be cheaper and avoids a lot of potential issues like this one. Plus no risk of going off-supply because the credit ran out. If you’d like to switch over, please feel free to have a chat with the Boost Support Team and they can discuss your options. It is now possible to switch between OVO and Boost, as long as you get the Support Team involved.

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Hi @Blastoise186 

My daughter is definitely on OVO as we're the previous owners and she is on a pay monthly contract. 

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As were, not we're 

Userlevel 7
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Ahh ok. Gotcha.

Yeah, not sure why the meters even have access to PAYG functionality like Vend Mode then. It’s usually meant to be disabled if you’re in Credit Mode and even if you get into it, nothing much will happen other than the meter just spitting out a bunch of errors at you.

You can definitely request an Emergency Meter Exchange (EMEX) though, completely free of charge. I can’t promise that the replacement meter will be a Smart Meter as it depends on what the engineer has with them and the priority for an EMEX is to get the basic supply back up and running. If it’s not a Smart Meter though, you’ll be able to make arrangements with OVO for a further Meter Exchange at a later date to get you back to Smart Meters again. There’s no charge to do this, but you can also choose just to stay on the temporary meter for a bit longer if you’re not ready.

It’s also possible that the meter might be replaced with a SMETS2 Smart Meter, which wouldn’t be compatible with those SMETS1 Secure Liberty meters. If that happens, the electric meter and In-Home Display will also be replaced at no extra cost as part of the service.

Userlevel 1

Thanks again. We'll get in contact first thing Tuesday and ask for an EMEX and also ask why both the meters are set in Vend mode, when she's on a pay monthly contract on a direct debit.

BTW there is no in home display in the house, should there be one?

Do you know how quickly they usually come out under this program?

TBH this is another reason why I've refused to have Smart meters fitted in my own home.

Regards 

David 

Userlevel 7
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No worries. :)

If memory serves, there’s usually somewhere around a four hour target response time for an EMEX and you’ll be kept informed.

I also just checked some of my old notes and apparently the Secure Liberty meters have certain PAYG features enabled regardless of whether the meter is in Prepayment Mode or Credit Mode, but if it’s the latter then the PAYG features are just a dummy feature that has no effect. Most other brands like Aclara and Flonidan totally disable PAYG features by default if the meter is in Credit Mode though.

I will be honest here. The failure modes for a Smart Meter are no different from a Traditional Meter, except for being more reliable. Pretty much any dead meter would need to be replaced, but some of them handle continuing the supply better than others.

There should be an IHD, so I wonder if it went missing or was never provided perhaps? Not to worry, OVO can try to send you another one in the post for free on request. It’s meant to be provided when the meters are first installed, but some people decline while others run off with it when they move out. The IHD is technically the property of the supplier though and will only work with the meters its been paired to, so there really is no point taking it with you when you move house. It’s best to leave it in the house somewhere easy to find for the next householder. You’ll be amazed at how many times people still run off with them though...

Older SMETS1 Smart Meters like those Secure Liberty ones have been known to have a fair few problems, not least because there was no real unity in terms of communications. British Gas even had the “genius” idea of creating their own proprietary Centrica WAN which literally no-one else could touch! So that meant any S1 meters installed by British Gas would ONLY work with British Gas, and meters installed by anyone else would NOT work with British Gas at all.

SMETS2 however, has fixed a lot of these flaws and you can now (for example) switch supplier freely without the meter losing Smart functionality. OVO also switched meter brands as well and uses Aclara and Flonidan for S2 installs - usually the Aclara SGM1400 Series for the electric meter and the Flonidan UniFlo for the gas meter. Both of which have proven to be pretty reliable overall. Inevitably you’ll always get the odd dud unit regardless, but it’s nowhere near as bad these days.

https://smartme.co.uk explains more if you’re interested.

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Once again thank you for your very informative and helpful response. We'll call them asap on Tuesday morning and will let you know the outcome. 

Regards

David 

Userlevel 1

Hi @Blastoise186 

My daughter has had a contact from someone on their Twitter team, who is saying that because there is a flame visible on the display, the meter isn't faulty and it must be a problem with the boiler.  We have explained that there is no gas to the oven as well as the boiler and that both you and the emergency gas supply company have advised it is a faulty, non functioning meter.

 

Can you advise anything further to help as all the person on twitter has said is they will ask someone to call but no timescale as to when.

Regards

David 

Userlevel 7
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Sure.

I can definitely confirm that the gas meter is at fault here. That gas symbol is merely an indicator that tells you what kind of meter it is - and also provides a visual indicator as to where to find the supply status. There should be ON, READY or OFF next to it based on the supply status. The fact that none of them are showing up suggests a fault has been detected and it’s possible the meter has had to close the valve for safety reasons (or it got stuck in the closed position somehow).

Feel free to reply back to that Tweet with a link to this forum thread. If you use a Reply Tweet (or reply to the DM if it was via DM), it’ll link back to that Twitter thread so that the Social Media Team can find it.

The link for this thread is https://forum.ovoenergy.com/smart-meters-136/possible-faulty-gas-smart-meter-9978.

Userlevel 1

We've DM'd them the link and await a response. They were even telling us to get a gas boiler company out but we had to point out that there was no supply to the gas hob either so clearly it is a supply problem. Hopefully the next contact will be from someone at OVO who understands the problem.

Regards 

David 

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Hopefully.

I just managed to find that Twitter thread (but not the DMs for obvious reasons) and it looks like Alice from the Social Media Team was the first to respond on Twitter.

The office will be back open in the morning and you’ll definitely be able to reach the Support Team from 8am. The only reason it’s closed today is because of the delayed Bank Holiday from New Years Day being at the weekend. I don’t use Twitter myself, but I suspect you’ll get another reply to the DM thread within a few hours - the SMT are usually pretty quick to reply whenever they're around.

I’ve also asked @Tim_OVO to take a look at this forum thread in case he can help in some way. He’ll be back in the morning and while Tim can’t usually help out with account specific issues via the forum, he might be able to pass some of this on as feedback.

Userlevel 1

Called OVO at 8am this morning and whilst it took a little time they booked an EMEX and by 10.30 or so the engineer had been, agreed it was faulty and replaced it with a standard meter. Gas supply all tested and everything now working.

Thanks again for your help. Telling them all the things you'd said certainly helped to get this sorted but OVO need to provide an out of hours emergency contact capability. 

Regards 

David 

Userlevel 7
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You’re welcome.

Feel free to get that standard meter switched back to a Smart Meter whenever you’re ready. While that standard one is only intended to be temporary and will need to be returned to the spare inventory eventually, there’s no rush and you can go at your own pace. If you request to have another MEX to go Smart again, OVO will know that you’ve got that temporary gas meter and they’ll make sure it gets sorted out.

I also agree with you regarding emergency contacts. I’ll ask Tim or @Jess_OVO to pass that on as feedback to the teams.

Userlevel 6
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You’re welcome.

Feel free to get that standard meter switched back to a Smart Meter whenever you’re ready. While that standard one is only intended to be temporary and will need to be returned to the spare inventory eventually, there’s no rush and you can go at your own pace. If you request to have another MEX to go Smart again, OVO will know that you’ve got that temporary gas meter and they’ll make sure it gets sorted out.

I also agree with you regarding emergency contacts. I’ll ask Tim or @Jess_OVO to pass that on as feedback to the teams.

I think an emergency number is a really good idea. 

Imagine an elderly/vulnerable person who needs the heating on. If it had been cold and they were without gas and  anyone at ovo to phone for 4 days from 31st Dec to 3rd Jan inclusive.

Lucky it wasn't too cold and in this case not critical.

I would be really interested to know what OVO decide so i can pass the info onto my family for the future.

Well done to @Blastoise186 as a volunteer for their support while customer services was off for 4 days. 

This could easily have been a real car crash for ovo under different circumstances. 

 

Userlevel 7

Some really important points raised here about out-of-hours emergency meter replacements, @Prefdavid, @Jeffus and @Blastoise186.

 

I’ve taken this one away to the team and will pop back here with an update shortly.

 

Thanks for raising this one and bearing with me whilst I find out more. 

Userlevel 1

Indeed there have been and I would add some some education/training for the social media team would also help. We were advised by DM on twitter that because the flame symbol was showing on the gas meter that the supply was on and the meter wasn’t faulty and that we should call out an emergency boiler care company. Depite pointing out that there was no gas supply to the cooker either, so clearly calling out a boiler repair service wouldn’t help they appeared to disregard this and presumably didn’t then escalate the issue, which could have possibly got things sorted a day sooner. I assume the social media team are OVO employees, hence the suggestion of further training.

Regards

David

Userlevel 7
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If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that once Tim and Jess are on the case, you’re almost certainly going to get an answer that helps you solve the puzzle.

It can admittedly get a little confusing sometimes given the wide range of meters out there - which all have different ways of working - but there’s always room to improve things. It’s also the reason that on this forum, we’ll often ask for photos to help us double check a few things as that helps a ton. Not least because we can then eliminate pretty much anything that’s not relevant and focus on just what we know is relevant.

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