Smart meters, not worth the pain?



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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.


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

This mirrors my experiences. Really friendly and helpful people who all appear to have started working for OVO 10 minutes before I communicate with them. OVO, you’re doing your staff no favours at all. You need a system whereby a complaint is logged and owned by someone from start to finish, not dealt with by random people who happen to be on shift. Before you tell me how difficult this is, I’ll tell you that it isn’t. I worked in a customer service environment exactly like this for close on 50 years and, believe me, it works. As an ex CS trainer, I’m happy to give your staff some training along these lines if it helps.

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Sorry to hear about this experience, @kelvin1950. If a complaint is escalated to the Complaints team, then it’s dealt with by one dedicated complaint handler until resolved. Our front line Customer Services team will try their best to resolve any issues before escalating, so this would be picked up by the agent that picks up your call or email. 

If you’d like us to look into anything for you, please send us a message on Facebook with your account number (or address and post code), full name and DoB.

Thanks

@Nancy_OVO how am I supposed to know my complaint is being dealt with by a dedicated complaints handler? Clearly mine aren’t as I never get the same person twice. Who escalates? How do I escalate? Your comment just reinforces everyone’s opinions above.

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Good point @kelvin1950 … and I too would like to know the answer once @Nancy_OVO and the other Moderators get their feet back under the desks again.

I also note that you asked that question on Christmas Day. However “dedicated” a complaints handler you may have been assigned, I doubt that they’re dedicated enough to be picking this up! :wink:

Personally I’ve found that the best responses I’ve received from Customer Services have been when the query gets assigned to the correct team rather than a Complaints Handler. A handler may not appreciate the technicalities of the original question, whereas the Team Members dedicated to that subject certainly will.

The SMETS2 Meter Team is a case in point.

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Who escalates? How do I escalate? 

 

Thanks for the feedback - we have a complaint process that attempts to sort out issues efficiently. With the tricky or complex problems being escalated to the Complaint team. It’s explained here

 

This is the process guidelines in black and white. As you might imagine there’s a lot of grey in reality. But rest assured we will all do our best to help sort out issues as best we can, and have this process in place to support our members when they are not happy or want something sorted. 

Who escalates? How do I escalate? 

 

Thanks for the feedback - we have a complaint process that attempts to sort out issues efficiently. With the tricky or complex problems being escalated to the Complaint team. It’s explained here

This is the process guidelines in black and white. As you might imagine there’s a lot of grey in reality. But rest assured we will all do our best to help sort out issues as best we can, and have this process in place to support our members when they are not happy or want something sorted. 

Thanks for the suggestion @Tim_OVO I’ve tried the online form, email, and telephone. I haven’t tried writing you a letter yet, do you think that might help? I’ve also tried emailing your CEO, he doesn’t have anyone in his office who interfaces with mere customers.

Bear in mind, this is not something that has only happened in the last few weeks. This sorry saga commenced back in April 2019.

You’re not getting readings from me, so the app and website suggest. I have an IHD that has no info on the screen. At least we’re both getting the same information.

 

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Thanks for the update @kelvin1950. I experienced a similar set of delays in getting my Smart Meters to propagate through to OVO’s Billing system. However, in my case I also had an agreement with OVO’s engineers that they could use my site to test out code updates.

I must assume by now that you have actually used the word “complaint” in one of those communications with OVO. According to their Complaints Procedure, they have a maximum time-frame of 8 weeks to resolve the  second (escalated) stage of the process.

After that you may ask OVO for a Deadlock Letter, and if they do not provide one, then you are in any case deemed to have reached a state of deadlock.

It is at that point that you are permitted to refer the matter to the Office of the Energy Ombudsman.

I suspect that if you now write that email requesting a Deadlock Letter, you will receive a fairly rapid response from OVO Billing, who will resolve your long-standing complaint! This takes manpower because they have to trace back through the estimated, self-assessed and actual readings since your April change to Smart Meters. I suspect that might be the source of the blockage you’ve experienced.

 

As for you writing to the CEO, I think you went too high too fast. Even the boss of Customer Services is a Manager who is not a Director.

If there had been a collective experience evident here on the Forum, showing mass failure to propagate meter readings to the Billing System, then a Director might’ve taken an interest. They’re responsible for setting procedures in place rather than dealing with the individual cases going through those procedures.

It does however highlight an area where this Forum can help to collate customer experiences. So if more than just us two now raise a similar issue here, then I’m ready to change my mind!

Thanks for the update @kelvin1950. I experienced a similar set of delays in getting my Smart Meters to propagate through to OVO’s Billing system. However, in my case I also had an agreement with OVO’s engineers that they could use my site to test out code updates.

I must assume by now that you have actually used the word “complaint” in one of those communications with OVO. According to their Complaints Procedure, they have a maximum time-frame of 8 weeks to resolve the  second (escalated) stage of the process.

After that you may ask OVO for a Deadlock Letter, and if they do not provide one, then you are in any case deemed to have reached a state of deadlock.

It is at that point that you are permitted to refer the matter to the Office of the Energy Ombudsman.

I suspect that if you now write that email requesting a Deadlock Letter, you will receive a fairly rapid response from OVO Billing, who will resolve your long-standing complaint! This takes manpower because they have to trace back through the estimated, self-assessed and actual readings since your April change to Smart Meters. I suspect that might be the source of the blockage you’ve experienced.

 

As for you writing to the CEO, I think you went too high too fast. Even the boss of Customer Services is a Manager who is not a Director.

If there had been a collective experience evident here on the Forum, showing mass failure to propagate meter readings to the Billing System, then a Director might’ve taken an interest. They’re responsible for setting procedures in place rather than dealing with the individual cases going through those procedures.

It does however highlight an area where this Forum can help to collate customer experiences. So if more than just us two now raise a similar issue here, then I’m ready to change my mind!

Thanks for the info re. deadlocks, I’ll give that a try.

Most organisations have a department that recognises that a complaint email sent to the CEO is tantamount to a customer leaving. They employ staff to sort those problems out. Clearly OVO don’t actually respect their customers that much.

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That’s a fair point @kelvin1950. I’ve visited OVO (Bristol HQ) several times over the last couple of years, and I don’t think that’s how they’re functioning. It’s easier to see why if you know the company background.

OVO comes from a visionary leader, Stephen Fitzpatrick, who set up the company with his wife, working from their kitchen table. He is planning 5 to 10 years ahead of the current technology, and is more in the mold of a “free-thinker” than a “business strategist”!

About 18 months ago, OVO was developing some the technology which Stephen knew would be required for future domestic energy delivery. This was attracting significant incoming investment from the likes of Mitsubishi.

However, whilst Stephen remained as overall CEO, the daily work of keeping the company on-track was seriously depleting the time needed for creative thinking. OVO therefore appointed Adrian Letts as CEO of its customer-focussed retail arm. His background at Tesco Online placed him in a better position to be the strategist for the part of the company which we tend to think of as OVO, whilst leaving time for Stephen to innovate within the Kaluza (development) side of the OVO Group which includes Indra Renewable Technologies.

 

Customer Services remains headed up by a manager, JH, who I’ve met over lunch in June’19. He is an advocate of the Forum, but for obvious reasons isn’t going to openly post here!

Nevertheless, it’s possible that the Forum Moderators @Tim_OVO and @Nancy_OVO will message him to draw his attention to topics being raised here.

 

One of the Topics which I refer to about once every three weeks is the Complaints Procedure. The system does work… but it’s amazing how many customers (of all Energy Suppliers) don’t actually implement what it says - mainly because they haven’t read it.

For that reason, OVO’s web content staff appear to have been doing a tidy-up, removing old iterations of the Procedure and ensuring that it can readily be found on the main Feedback page rather than within a more general list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). I’ve noticed changes to this over Christmas, so someone’s been burning candles to get this sorted!

That’s a fair point @kelvin1950. I’ve visited OVO (Bristol HQ) several times over the last couple of years, and I don’t think that’s how they’re functioning. It’s easier to see why if you know the company background.

OVO comes from a visionary leader, Stephen Fitzpatrick, who set up the company with his wife, working from their kitchen table. He is planning 5 to 10 years ahead of the current technology, and is more in the mold of a “free-thinker” than a “business strategist”!

About 18 months ago, OVO was developing some the technology which Stephen knew would be required for future domestic energy delivery. This was attracting significant incoming investment from the likes of Mitsubishi.

However, whilst Stephen remained as overall CEO, the daily work of keeping the company on-track was seriously depleting the time needed for creative thinking. OVO therefore appointed Adrian Letts as CEO of its customer-focussed retail arm. His background at Tesco Online placed him in a better position to be the strategist for the part of the company which we tend to think of as OVO, whilst leaving time for Stephen to innovate within the Kaluza (development) side of the OVO Group which includes Indra Renewable Technologies.

 

Customer Services remains headed up by a manager, JH, who I’ve met over lunch in June’19. He is an advocate of the Forum, but for obvious reasons isn’t going to openly post here!

Nevertheless, it’s possible that the Forum Moderators @Tim_OVO and @Nancy_OVO will message him to draw his attention to topics being raised here.

 

One of the Topics which I refer to about once every three weeks is the Complaints Procedure. The system does work… but it’s amazing how many customers (of all Energy Suppliers) don’t actually implement what it says - mainly because they haven’t read it.

For that reason, OVO’s web content staff appear to have been doing a tidy-up, removing old iterations of the Procedure and ensuring that it can readily be found on the main Feedback page rather than within a more general list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). I’ve noticed changes to this over Christmas, so someone’s been burning candles to get this sorted!

Hmmmm! It was Adrian that I emailed so his Tesco experience didn’t teach him a lot.

Part of my problem is, I realise, 50+ years of working in customer service for companies who demanded problem ownership. I just cannot understand this “I’ll reply today and then go home and forget it.” mentality. That’s what it seems we’re getting here.

The other thing I find difficult to understand is that 3 of our daughters have smart meters with other suppliers and they all work OK. 

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.

I am having the same problem, tied. Into a 2 year contract and although my meter was replaced end of November after waiting since May, it still won't send electric readings, does the gas fine. Complete waste of time :(

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That’s about the same timescale that I experienced @Merryharry .

So… where are you on the Complaints Procedure?

At the moment nowhere, I'm going to ring them today cause they said I had to wait 6 weeks for it to work!!! You know when you know something isn't working, it's pointless waiting? Well that's me. If it wasn't for their 5%interest I would have left long ago. Tempted now, but still going to have the hassle of smart meters as they aren't taken away, and replaced with the old fashioned ones, the new company will have to replace them. Oh I had 3 no shows! So got £90 back from OVO for that, it's £30 for a no-show! 

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In these circumstances I always recommend using email not telephone.

A: You get to retain a message with a date/time stamp, and that’s very useful evidence should you later need to contact the Office of the Energy Ombudsman

B: It is almost certain that the initial CS Staffer will need to pass this on to a member of the SMETS2 Engineering Team. It’s obviously much easier to forward an email in which you explain the fault timeline than it is for a Staffer to transcribe this from a phone conversation!

Six weeks sounds to me like the anticipated “commissioning” timescale.

After that you will see the readings appearing on the OVO App, and then on your online account page.

There’s then a final stage where the readings are picked up by the Billing Team and incorporated into your Statements.

In these circumstances I always recommend using email not telephone.

A: You get to retain a message with a date/time stamp, and that’s very useful evidence should you later need to contact the [color=#6090a0]Office of the Energy Ombudsman[/color]

B: It is almost certain that the initial CS Staffer will need to pass this on to a member of the SMETS2 Engineering Team. It’s obviously much easier to forward an email in which you explain the fault timeline than it is for a Staffer to transcribe this from a phone conversation!

Six weeks sounds to me like the anticipated “commissioning” timescale.

After that you will see the readings appearing on the OVO App, and then on your online account page.

There’s then a final stage where the readings are picked up by the Billing Team and incorporated into your Statements.

Well I've just spoken to them, apparently cause I can't see my usage was cause it was set to monthly, not half hourly, now changed will take 2 days to show! Should get a bill in 10 days time, I still don't understand why the gas is sorted just like that and electric takes for ever. I will see what happens. Re emailing I never get answers for that, have got documentation on fb. And the lady I spoke to can see all my problems :) The point is I shouldn't have to worry about all this in the first place. There should have been pro active alerts on their part. I first noticed the problem when I was in Australia and got a combined bill for £20.00!! That's clearly not right:( And so the saga began. 

I wanted to share my experience so far with Ovo and smart meters, to see if it’s normal or has something gone wrong in my case?

Ovo started supplying my energy in June 2019. My properly was purchased as a new build in June 2013, with a regular gas meter and SMETS1 smart electricity meter, up until switching I’d been with E.ON for the previous 6 years, no issues, just finally became uncompetitive at that point.

Shortly after joining Ovo, I received the first call from them to sign me up for smart meters, yep fine, run through all the details on the phone only to be told no appointments available - what was the point of calling me?!? Exactly the same next time they called. I didn’t bother answering after that!

Later in the year, I booked online for smart meters to be fitted on 29th October, engineer arrived, advised he couldn’t change the gas meter because of the earth clamp being inside the meter box, changed the electricity meter, left the IHD with me and said they’ve usually sprung into life by the time he’s finished swapping a gas meter so it should show me some info soon and headed off.

For 3 months my IHD just displayed ‘waiting for current data’ - although it has finally started working in the last couple of days!

Billing has been a mess since the meter was changed, unable to submit electricity meter readings for a while, despite receiving reminders to do so because my bills were being estimated. Then the meter details updated but I was still having to submit electricity meter reads manually.

My direct debit has been £42/month since I joined and I’m confident this is what it should be.

19th November, I started receiving e-mails telling me I needed to increase my direct debit to £74/month to avoid building up a debt. Given the billing situ, I just ignored this.

20th December, I received an e-mail telling me my direct debit was being changed to £73/month because I hadn’t done anything with it.

8th January, another round of e-mails starts telling me I need to change my direct debit to £67/month to avoid building up debt.

16th January, e-mail arrives telling me direct debit is being changed to £63/month as I haven’t done anything with it.

As of today, 1st February, the app still shows my direct debit set to £42/month, although it’s now recommending I change it to £10/month…!

Interestingly, all my previous electricity meter readings have disappeared from the app since I last checked it earlier in January.

Does everyone get a similar experience? I’m not overly bothered/upset about it myself, but it strikes me as a really poor customer journey. If someone was on a very tight budget, and not confident in their usage / direct debit amount, it could have created a lot of unnecessary worry!

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Hi @CrispyUK . I’ve responded to two of your points over on the other Topic you started this evening. (That Topic and my response now relocated below)

There’s loads of other Topics about Direct Debits, such as this one here.

Remember, you’ve raised this point in winter. The guidance from Ofgem is that the Energy Supplier should expect to hold in credit sufficient funds to cover your next bill. You can ask to be repaid amounts beyond this.

A lot of us actually keep substantially more than that in our OVO account because we earn more interest than we would in a bank!

The algorithms used for the three types of estimated usage which you sometimes see, have been reconstructed into new in-house software by OVO’s developers about 18 months ago. Before then OVO used 3rd party software, but this made errors which got them rapped over the knuckles by Ofgem. :open_mouth:

It takes quite a while for these algorithms to learn the patterns of usage. The formula used to calculate Direct Debits is one of the most problematic. If customers don’t respond at all to a “change your DD” notification, then it’s all the more tricky for it to arrive at the correct figure.

In your case it seems to have now settled on a reasonable outcome by tracking your account over the 7 months since you joined. But there are other customers who have received unpleasant surprises by not taking relevant action, such as emailing Customer Services.

Everything was fine for the first few months, it seems to have been the smart meter installation, and resulting disruption to the billing/statement cycle that has upset things.

Statements produced on 5th Jul, 5th Aug, 5th Sep, 7th Oct all like clockwork, prior to the meter change.

I then didn’t get a statement until 10th Dec, which was for gas only.

Followed by a statement on 16th Dec, for electricity only (with the transition between meters).

Whilst I can understand the meter change potentially delaying the electricity billing (although I thought the data flow would be a bit more real-time in this day and age!), I’m not sure why I didn’t receive at least a gas only statement in November.

It also seems all the more odd that I started getting “change your DD” notifications in November when no statements were generated and my account was just building up credit.

Statements back to normal for 6th Jan, and hopefully another in a few days on 5th Feb.

My account balance has remained in credit the whole time (although I have just noticed no interest reward has been paid on my last two statements, despite credit balances of £108 / £66 brought forward to them).

Also my direct debit amount has never actually been changed, despite e-mails from Ovo on two occasions telling me they’ve changed it. I’m also not going to change it now to the £10/month it’s recommending as that will definitely result in a debt building!

I’d been hesitant to contact Customer Services regarding the direct debit as suspected it would knock-out my self-service reward, will see what the Feb statement brings.

I was curious if anyone else had experienced similar billing/DD issues around a meter switch, as it might indicate problems with the algorithms used to monitor DD amounts, perhaps they cannot handle statements falling out of the regular cycle?

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I don’t think your experience is as unusual as you might suppose.

Readings from Smart Meters are handled differently than monthly manual readings. After all, it’s much easier for an algorithm to analyse a trend if it has daily data as an input!

For a similar reason the estimates used to calculate DDs will also differ.

The difference in handling gas and electricity readings shortly after the Smart Meter installation can be attributed to the processes used by ECOES and Xoserve, which are the national databases for electric and gas respectively. It is they who obtain the readings from the old meters, check this against your self-declared usage, update the MPAN numbers etc.

It also takes a month to commission and verify readings from the new Smart Meters. If your IHD hadn’t been displaying “waiting for current data” you may have noticed this. Initially it would have displayed usage based on a default data-set held within your Communications Hub. Once DCC hand over the meter configuration to OVO, your real tariff data will have been installed.

The reason your IHD suddenly sprang into life is probably that OVO downloaded updated code to your Communications Hub.

There’s a lot of procedures which go on behind the scenes.

… and that’s why I wrote the Topic on Installation of SMETS2 Meters in the first place.

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.


I don’t like ‘Smart Meters at all. I am Electromagnetically Hypersensitive and  my Health already suffers as a result of a plethora of Mobile Phone Masts less than 35 yards from where i live and 26 more one kilometre away alone. The health problems are cumulative and increase with age and affect the very young worst of all because their immune systems have not fully developed to cope with the effects of them.

They are Microwaves just like mobile phones and indeed all frequencies above 800 MGHZ are microwaves. A microwave oven is 50-60 Watts Power. A Mobile Phone is 5  watts so 10 Mobile Phones produces the same output. Never leave any wifi on at night because your sleep will suffer and then your health. I have had to paint many of my walls with anti -radiation paint because of my problems but even that does nt solve it ! The smallest gap will let them through. I get neck and back ache s, rashes and heart palpitations and much much.

There will be some big demonstrations about the 5g aspects shortly. Look up Anthony Steele on You Tube , This man is an expert in this technology and is currently bring people to court because of the dangers. He won a Court case against Gateshead Council that they brought against him for ‘ Worrying them’ and proved his expertise and qualifications .The Judge said that the Public” had a right to know”

5G is a weaponized Technology and can Kill.

NO SMART METER COMPANY IS INSURED AGAINST THE HARMFUL EFFECT OF 5G AND THEY WONT INSURE IT BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE RISKS. IF THEY WONT INSURE IT WHAT TAKE THE RISK YOURSELF?

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This information is incorrect @RUGGERIO

A: No Smart Meters in the UK use 5G

B: The WAN transceivers in Smart Meters are rated at less than ½W. They spend 99.999% of the time not transmitting.

C: A Smart-phone might transmit at 2W whilst establishing a call, but once connected will typically reduce output to far less than 0.2W. (Not 5w as you claim).

D: Most microwave ovens are rated 750-900w (not 50-60W). They operate at 2.56GHz.

E: Microwave radiation is generally defined as between 500MHz to 100GHz; higher frequency than most “radio” waves, but less than visible light.

F: Human immune systems are biological. They are not effected by radio-waves, which are comprised of photons.

Any discussion on this Forum needs to be based on correct physics.

Thought I’d drop in here with an update, my last three statements (Feb, Mar, Apr) have all been only for gas usage, I haven’t been billed for any electricity since my January statement.

It seems there’s a second period of billing disruption/suspension that has been trigged by the smart meter becoming ‘smart’ (part of the provisioning stages I imagine). Ovo are receiving the daily meter readings, I can see them going back to 2nd Feb in the app.

I haven’t contacted customer services about this, as appreciate they are busy and this isn’t the most important thing in the world right now. My fix is coming to an end shortly so hopefully this isn’t going to cause any problems with me switching to another plan/supplier.

Ultimately though, I wish I’d never bothered, I had a better idea of what my electricity was costing me on the old meter giving monthly readings - the “smart” meter has been a complete failure so far!

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