Solved

Smart meter installation in locked cabinet in a council owned building - how can the engineer get access?


Userlevel 1

I live in Southwark in London in a council owned building. I am the leaseholder for my flat but do not have access to the electricity cupboard where all meters are located. The council wont give the keys to me due to health and safety reasons (see here). The council will give keys to “only the approved contractor can collect the key. The contracted engineer will need to provide company photographic identification for the keys to be released. We'll never authorise an occupant to collect the keys.” 

I have a smart meter installation booked with Ovo. The Ovo customer care team appeared completely unaware of this requirement. They’ve told me that I need to arrange for the keys myself and make them available on the day of the appointment. So I am stuck in this catch 22 situation! Council will need name and contact of the engineer, Ovo wont provide me any details in advance. The engineer will need to themselves go to the council office on the day of the installation and collect the keys and return them later - Ovo has told me this is impossible. The council have told me that the big 6 energy companies are aware of this requirement and regularly collect keys from the council. 

I’ve been a Ovo customer since 2016, but unfortunately I am at a point where if Ovo cannot install the smart meter for my home I’ll need to switch to another provider. 

Anyone else found themselves in a similar situation? Is there someone at Ovo who can help?

icon

Best answer by Lukepeniket_OVO 23 August 2022, 13:24

View original

28 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hi @ovo_88 ,

That’s a really weird policy and I’ve never known it to be in force anywhere else. Let me ask @Lukepeniket_OVO if he knows how OVO’s engineers might handle this, as it may help you out.

To be honest, there’s also flaws in what your council is saying but these are just my personal opinion:

  • The “Big Six” has been smashed up and no longer exists per se due to takeovers, mergers, de-mergers and various other factors
  • That they haven’t told at least 20 other suppliers about their policy
  • That every supplier that isn’t aware of their policy cannot get access to the meters at all
  • This is technically impeding the supplier from accessing the meters that it owns - electric and gas meters are always property of the energy supplier, not the council
Userlevel 1

Thanks, will really appreciate any help. My smart meter installation appointment is on 24 Aug. The council will only give the keys to an Ovo engineer. In fact I need to book this key collection and provide the name and contact of the engineer in advance to the council. If easier, you can send me a message here and we can connect on phone. Thanks

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I wouldn’t be able to do that myself I’m afraid as I’m only a forum volunteer and Luke doesn’t cover your area. But we can definitely try to offer advice that might help. I’ll see if a moderator is around as well, as they might know some options.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I think in the meantime, you might want to try making the request and inform the council you’ll follow up with the engineers details once you have them. At least that should get the ball rolling… Unless it’s that kind of council...

Userlevel 7

I’ve also asked this question internally as I’m not sure on what is possible @ovo_88.

 

In theory as long as the engineer has job notes to advise where and how to get the key, and is shown where the meter area is, it should be possible. But it’s unlikely that anyone can confirm the name and details of the engineer in advance. I’d hope an identification card would be enough for the person on the council desk. 

 

In order to get job notes added, please reach out to our Support team

 

I’ll be back here if I can get any more info!

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

I’ve also asked this question internally as I’m not sure on what is possible @ovo_88.

 

In theory as long as the engineer has job notes to advise where and how to get the key, and is shown where the meter area is, it should be possible. But it’s unlikely that anyone can confirm the name and details of the engineer in advance. I’d hope an identification card would be enough for the person on the council desk. 

 

In order to get job notes added, please reach out to our Support team

 

I’ll be back here if I can get any more info!

Interesting @Tim_OVO 

As it appears to be a generic Southwark requirement, i wonder if OVO have installed any smart meters in other Southwark council properties? There could well be examples that OVO already have? 

Perhaps it needs a phone call or email from someone in OVO to Southwark to agree any finer generic details on process for getting the key? It may speed things up with a quick chat? 

Userlevel 5

@Tim_OVO if you can send the customer details to my work email I can contact the dispatchers/schedulers for London and get them to notify the engineer the night before??

Userlevel 5

Hello, so I've recieved your details from @Tim_OVO and I've forwarded the details to the planners and schedulers for Southwark and I'm just awaiting a reply.

 

Just to confirm your council is Southwark council? @ovo_88 

Userlevel 1

Yes, it is Southwark Council. Appreciate your help! 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hehehe, I always knew you were good Luke, but I didn’t know you were that good! XD

Userlevel 5

@Blastoise186 thank you 😊 I don't know the planners and schedulers but I know someone who does, so it's as easy as find a name and fire a message with undeniable charm and absolute desperation and hopefully we can do the right thing for @ovo_88.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Well, I guess we have our best answer now for this rather unique question! It’s so tempting for me to use my global best answer power right now, but Tim would probably yell at me…

The next thing you’ll tell me is that you’ve got some pink fairy dragon in the back of the van?

Userlevel 1

Just got the below response from Southwark Council. Basically telling me no way that they will give me the keys, only energy company engineer can collect it! @Lukepeniket_OVO  Do you think I still have a chance ? Thank you so much for your help so far!  

 

“We do not attend and open electrical intake cupboards for utility companies. This is an email only based booking system for keys to be collected from the address shown below.

The keys enable access to restricted areas so cannot be released unless collected by an authorised engineer with photographic identification due to the health and safety risks.

Utility companies are aware of our procedures in obtaining keys and carrying out works. This is standard procedure and many Utility operatives comply across the borough and collect keys regularly from the below office.

 

Office Address:

My Southwark Service Point 

122 Peckham Hill Street

Ground floor

London SE15 5JR   “

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Of course, typical council response…

I don’t think you’re out of luck yet. Luke is amazingly good at puzzle solving and he’ll no doubt figure something out. I’m also still thinking through your options that might enable that all important key to be released...

Of course, it would be WAY easier if the engineers were able to make the requests themselves on your behalf. But I guess the council didn’t think of that option...

Userlevel 1

Just to add, I do have a photo of the lock which the council may ask the engineer to provide. Can send via message to someone if needed. Thanks

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

That might help, but posting it here could be a security risk and this forum doesn’t allow images in PM’s right now. Could you email it over to forum@ovoenergy.com and ask for it to be sent to Luke?

Userlevel 1

Thanks, I’ve sent the lock photo to that email and asked for it to be shared with Luke. Would be grateful if someone at OVO is able to speak with the council tomorrow ahead of the installation appointment on Wednesday! 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

No worries.

DEFINITELY think there’s massive scope to improve this rather terrible process to be honest. The way Southwark does it right now is horribly painful and clearly doesn’t work very well. I think it’s only because you’ve come to this forum and Luke’s dedication to customer service led him to join just under a year ago that you’re able to get any progress at all. I think we can all agree that it shouldn’t have to come this far or be this complicated.

I’ll probably have a chat with Tim about this at some point, as I’m pretty sure I can come up with some suggestions about how to make this way less painful.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Then again, I’ll make this public as I want people to be able to see this.

One possible solution I can think of, is to make it so that anytime someone books a smart meter upgrade, meter exchange or anything else that requires access to equipment that might be locked away by a council or similar, to trigger a process that sets up the necessary requests to set up access.

So if we take Southwark as an example…

  1. Try to convince Southwark Borough Council to actually document which keys are used on which building - and which key goes to each lock in said buildings
  2. Set up an automatic request system with a preloaded request template
  3. Identify all addresses that might be in a building where Southwark’s communal key request system is in place
  4. Agree with Southwark to use this new method (or it won’t work!)
  5. Modify the playbooks and workflows to include it
  6. Anytime anyone in a Southwark building requests work to be done, proactively fire off an automatic communal key request as part of the appointment booking with the necessary details already filled in
  7. Track any responses from the council and respond as needed - and notify the council once a named engineer has been confirmed
  8. Notify the engineer that they need to stop by the council office on the way to the member so they can pick up the required key
  9. Inform the member in question that a communal key request has been set up on their behalf and that OVO will take care of the paperwork
  10. Collect and return the key on the day as needed based on the agreements put in place between OVO and Southwark

Something like this might take a bit of working out in order to make it possible, but in theory I feel it has a chance of working. And if you can get it to work for one council, it’s quite possible that others will be willing to consider it.

Oh, and if Southwark thinks the current process works perfectly… Then what happens if a sub-contractor is tasked to perform the job on behalf of the energy supplier? Good luck getting their details in those cases!

And what about those with no internet access? :)

Userlevel 1

@Blastoise186 that’s a great idea and it would be fantastic if this process could be implemented. I wonder how OVO has dealt with similar request for Southwark or other dinosaur councils in the past.

Its a comical situation, I can never get meter readings. Once in a while if I see someone working inside that meter room/cabinet I ask if I can take a photo of my meter. So for the last several years I can actually get a meter reading may be twice a year at best!

The building manager could help me get a reading sometimes but the right process published on the council website is “Only approved engineers are permitted to access the intake cupboard, as this is a restricted area. You must book a date with your supplier to perform a meter reading and we can check the availability of the communal key. Alternatively, you can discuss having a smart meter fitted by your supplier” 😂😂

So effectively the council expects the energy supplier to collect the keys even for meter readings! And their solution is to get a smart meter fitted. It is absolutely impossible for me to get meter readings regularly and easily. Sometimes I wonder if the councils work really hard to come up with such ridiculous processes just to take the piss.. 

Anyways, I am hoping for some OVO magic to workout and finally get my meter installed tomorrow. 

Userlevel 7

Hi @ovo_88 and thanks for sending that email. I have forwarded this onto Luke by email but I want to set some expectations here that we’re not able to response or pick up contact quickly here on the forum. I’m hopeful we’ve been able to contact the OVO engineer in advance of this appointment tomorrow, and I’m hopeful the council are able to be reasonable with regards to their usual process. 

 

If you did want to add anything else to the job notes of this job, our Support team are best placed to pass this on for you.

Userlevel 5

As long as the engineer has job notes to advise where and how to get the key, and is shown where the meter area is, it should be possible. But it’s unlikely that anyone can confirm the name and details of the engineer in advance. I’d hope an identification card would be enough for the person on the council desk. 

 

In order to get job notes added, please reach out to our Support team

 

Hello everyone,

 

So positive response from planning and scheduling who will pass on the message and address of the council offices to pick up the key for the meter exchange, so that I'd about as much as I can do 🙂

 

I am hopeful we can resolve this for you @ovo_88

 

I'll message them again later once the work has been finalised to remind them again.

 

Thank you everyone.

Userlevel 1

Thank you so much @Lukepeniket_OVO ! Some more good news, I just got an email from the council confirming that the keys have been booked for collection tomorrow (24 Aug) between 9:15 - 15:00 (to be returned by 16:45). I told them that I don’t know the name and phone number of the engineer but they’ve asked me to provide this as soon as I know - although don’t think it should be an issue. 

I am really grateful for all the help and support I’ve received here. Can’t thank you all enough. Its great to have this forum to discuss such issues. 

@Tim_OVO  just to respond to you, I wasn’t trying to use this forum as customer care, apologies if it sounded like that. Really happy with the support and advice received here!

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Glad to hear it!

One of the things I love about this forum is our ability to come up with unique solutions to unique problems. Obviously, Luke definitely can’t offer this same trick to absolutely everyone but I think it does expose some flaws in the current process that may be worth talking about in a few places. Keep us posted with how things go, as we always love to know that it all works out in the end.

I think it’s also best to give you a heads up about something as well actually. Since you won’t be able to get direct access to your meter, we’ll be rather limited in what kinds of diagnostics we can try to do with you via the forum. If you have problems, we’ll still be up for giving it a go but it may end up having to rely on remote diagnostics via the support team instead.

And I’m really pleased you found this forum helpful. If you ever get stuck with anything again, please don’t hesitate to stop by and we’ll try to help you out if we can. If it’s something we can’t help out with here, the least we can do is help you find the right place to go. :)

Oh, and if you fancy helping out here, go for it! We’re always happy to welcome new forum volunteers - trust me, it takes several of us to keep up with things!

Either way, hopefully the installation goes off without a hitch tomorrow. It will take up to six weeks for the new meter to commission after that, but the first smart reading should come through within eight weeks at most.

Userlevel 5

Sooooooo............ @ovo_88 is it good news? I have asked but have had no reply as of yet.

@Blastoise186 the meter and IHD (depending on distance) should be successfully commissioned during the installation and then reflected in the online account by up to 6 weeks.

If its too far for the Ihd to work @ovo_88 can always use their online account to keep up to date with things. 

Reply