Our electricity was cut off with no prior notice !

  • 9 December 2023
  • 39 replies
  • 724 views

Userlevel 2
  • Carbon Cutter*****
  • 60 replies

I’ve been with BOOST / OVO for years, first as pre-payment, then on credit.

A couple of years ago, when I asked for the meter to be changed from Prepay to Credit, I was told it was not a problem, but the new account would now be an OVO account.

The switch happened, and my Smart Meter changed to Credit mode as I expected. Everything just worked, smooth as silk !.

So smooth, I totally forgot about it. I wasn’t asked for a new DD, the payments were still going to BOOST, and that’s how it has been for the last two years. The latest DD was on 4th Dec.

Last month I decided to switch to a new supplier for electricity. This is the same supplier we  already get our gas from. 

I contacted the new supplier, and it all went through OK. Switchover date was set for 24th Nov.

24th arrived, and went, and my supply just carried on. I viewed my dual fuel account on the web, and it showed the electricty switchover as ‘in progress’.

I phoned new supplier, who said to wait, as it might take a few days to show up. It still showed ‘in progress’ last week, so I phoned again, and was told they would look into it.

This morning, Sat 9th Dec, at exactly 09:00, our power went off.

Saturday morning is not a good time to contact suppliers. I set my wife to contact the new supplier, and I tried to contact BOOST/OVO. I got through first, and found that BOOST/OVO had the ability to turn me back on. The lady I spoke to did that, but was unable to tell me why I’d been cut off. I will wait till Monday before I dig into this further.

Cutting off power with no notice is not good !. Luckily we were at home today, if this had been next Saturday we would have been out all day, only coming home at about 8pm to a cold dark house.  We are on the PSR, but that didn’t seem to matter.

Sorry for this to be such a long post, but I wanted to show the full story. I would not be posting here we had been given notice, because then it would have been our fault.

[ Edit 13:06 - Removed a lot of whitespace ]


39 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

While that’s unfortunate, if you have switched away from OVO/Boost, then the responsibility that OVO/Boost had for you ended on the 24th November 2023.

You must discuss this with your new supplier - only they can touch this.

Userlevel 2

When we contacted our new supplier ( well, his robot ) we were told they couldn’t help, as they didn’t supply electricity to our address !.

It was OVO/BOOST who cut us off, it is them who should explain why.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Check with your DNO who the supplier is.

This tool will either tell you directly, or tell you which DNO to contact

https://supplier.nationalgrid.co.uk/

Userlevel 7

Hey @Buzby,

 

I’m sorry to hear this,

 

We don’t have access to your account on the Forum, but it sounds like maybe the meter defaulted back to pay as you go? As you said you contacted Boost and they switched the supply back on.

 

I’d contact the new supplier to find out why the switch is being delayed, I wonder if the two are linked?

 

Keep us posted with how you get on.

Userlevel 2

I’m a bit further on, but still no definative answer.

As I said in my first post, we used to be on PrePay. Earlier this year I requested to change to Credit.

The BOOST/OVO person I talked to said OK, and  told me the account would change from BOOST to OVO.

I heard nothing more, so assumed all was OK. ( I realise now I should have asked what was going on. )

My IHD seemed to confirm the switch, as it stopped showing ‘money left’, and didn’t do that beepy thing saying feed me money !

 

Today I rang BOOST/OVO. I got shuffled from post to post, but did learn something !.

(a) I was still on PrePay ! ( Even though the IHD said ‘Credit’ )

(b) An OVO account for me was started on 20th July 2023

I have had no paperwork, emails, or phone calls regarding this OVO account. I don’t even know what the account number is !. ( I did ask, but by the time I confirmed my identity for the fifth or sixth time, the question got forgotten. )

 

My suspicion is that my monthly payments to BOOST, which have been the same for years, were now not enough. As the meter/IHD didn’t warn me, and I got no letter or email saying there was a problem, you can imagine my surprise when the power went off !.

 

Are there any rules or regulations about cutting off power ?.

Is the cut-off done by a human or a robot ?.

Is there a way I can talk to the relevant BOOST/OVO departments using email ?

( Why get me to confirm my email address if BOOST/OVO don’t use it ? )

 

I’ve spent another hour on the phone today, and I’ve got other thing to do. Email comms would be so much more convenient.

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Email is the slowest route, you’d be waiting a lot longer.

Try Live Chat instead.

OVO: https;//ovoenergy.com/help

Boost: https://boostpower.co.uk/help 

Userlevel 2

Live chat is a robot, it just goes round in circles !

 

 

  • Business said

What do you need help with?

1:14 PM
 
You said

Related to billing

1:14 PM
 
Business said

Please tell me what type of query you have so I can help you find the right information, e.g. billing query, my online account, meter readings

1:13 PM
 
Business said

One moment, please, and I will put you through to someone.

1:13 PM
 
You said

Yes

1:13 PM
 
Business said

You want to speak to an advisor. Is that correct?

1:13 PM
 
You said

I need to talk to a human.

1:12 PM
 
Business said

Sorry. I didn't catch that

1:12 PM
 
You said

It is not one of those. I need to talk to someone.

1:12 PM
 
Business said

What do you need help with?

1:11 PM
 
You said

Yes

1:11 PM
 
Business said

I think you have a billing query, is that correct?

1:09 PM
 
You said

I want to discuss my electricity account.

1:09 PM
 
Business said

My mistake. Tell me again what you would like to do.

1:09 PM
 
You said

No

1:09 PM
 
Business said

I think something's gone wrong with your online account or OVO app login, is that correct?

1:09 PM
 
You said

Can you access my account details ?

1:09 PM
 
Business said

Please tell me what type of query you have so I can help you find the right information, e.g. billing query, my online account, meter readings

1:08 PM
 
Business said

Hi there, I'm OVO's chatbot. Let's see if we can find the answer you are looking for. If I can't get you the answer you need, I'll put you through to one of our support team.

1:08 PM
This is the beginning of your conversation with us.
New message Business said What do you need help with? Something Else Paperless Billing Braille or Large Print Bills My Usage Change Correspondence Address Contract Exit Fees & End Dates Am I in credit/debit? Billing Frequency Download My Bills View My Bills 1:14 PMd45a66bdc2392af7c98be0e17bba0cbb
 
 
 
 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Just say the word “agent” (without the quotes) at the start, the bot will then step out of the way and put you through to a human.

Userlevel 2

I’m not after speed of resolution, I’m after accuracy and an audit trail.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Live Chat will give you that - the conversation gets logged to your account and you can request a copy anytime.

Userlevel 2

Are there any rules or regulations about cutting off power ?.

Is the cut-off done by a human or a robot ?.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

If you’re on Pay Monthly, only a human is allowed to do it - and there are VERY strict rules about disconnections.

On Pay As You Go, the meter itself will disconnect you if the credit runs out - the rules on this one are much simpler. This is considered to be a Self-Disconnection on the basis you’ve not paid for any energy so it cannot be supplied. The supplier doesn’t require your permission for this one.

Userlevel 2

Great. ( ? )

*Edited by Mod* on the chat is going to phone me !.

Chat was closed before I could request a transcript !

Userlevel 2

If you’re on Pay Monthly, only a human is allowed to do it - and there are VERY strict rules about disconnections.

On Pay As You Go, the meter itself will disconnect you if the credit runs out - the rules on this one are much simpler. This is considered to be a Self-Disconnection on the basis you’ve not paid for any energy so it cannot be supplied. The supplier doesn’t require your permission for this one.

This seems to be the root of the problem. One part of the system was PAYG, the other Credit.

My IHD was not warning me, the meter didn’t do the beepy thing. I wasn’t expecting anything like that as I thought I was on a credit plan.

Can I interrogate the meter and see what instigated the cut-off ?

 

EDIT - It’s an Aclara SGM-1411-B



 

Userlevel 2

It’s now 15:00, but no phone call.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Can I interrogate the meter and see what instigated the cut-off ?

 

EDIT - It’s an Aclara SGM-1411-B

I have snipped this quote to squash it down and avoid a giant quote pyramid.

There’s no option for that I’m afraid. Logs of that type aren’t usually customer facing and even if they were, they’d only make sense to someone with a deep understanding of the system, or at very least, the tools to parse the logs and make them more human readable. That’s something that even I do not possess unfortunately.

Userlevel 2

Can I interrogate the meter and see what instigated the cut-off ?

There’s no option for that I’m afraid.

Oooh !. Maybe my Smart Meter is not so smart, ‘cos I found some logs !.

No hacking or stolen passwords. Just press ‘B’ until it shows the supplier (Boostpower on mine ), then press ‘A’ for the relevant log.

 

This screenshot is an entry from the Event log. The code 0x8154 is a notification ‘Immediate HAN Interface Command Received and Successfully Actioned’. The vast majority of the Event log is 0x8154. It looks like stuff that happens when the IHD is communicating.

There is another log, the Power Event Log. However, the latest event in there is 6th Dec. There is nothing from the 9th, when the power actually went off and on. I think this log is more about the quality of the power to the meter, not on/off to the customer. ( Although I’ve not checked the details, they may be related to the watchdog error shown later in this post. )

Yet another log is the Security Log. The latest in here is 1st Dec, but that is interesting. It shows 0x8F1E, ‘Integrity check of content or format of command failed’. This is an indication that a command from WAN, i.e, the supplier, could not be interpreted. This could be a harmless corruption, maybe due to poor signal or interference. If that was the case I would expect to see some kind of success message following it, as the supplier retries. As this code is classed as ‘critical’ I would have expected a flurry of action around this time !

On 6th Dec, two days before the power cut off, I found  something very worrying in the Event Log. A simultaneous ‘Overheating’ warning and Watchdog Error. The ‘overheat’ warning was for my Network Operator, Electricity North West, and the Watchdog warning was for OVO/BOOST.  Watchdog errors can be *very* disruptive, see later.

The codes are here : https://www.smartme.co.uk/documents/Aclara-SMETS2-Single-Phase-Electric.pdf#M13.9.95701.Appendixname.Event.Codes

 

Today I have spent hours on the phone, and just as long on the webchat. *edited by moderator*

This is a brief synopsis of the chat :

Stuart : I can see this is being handled by our Specialist Billing team, I’ll transfer you to them.

…. Waiting …..

Me : Are you on the Specialist Billing team ?

Agent: No, I’m Customer Service

Me : Can you explain why I got cut off at 09:00 on Saturday ?

Agent: Sorry, but I can’t see any cut-off for your gas on Saturday. Very sorry, I’ll report this to someone.

Me : It’s my ELECTRICITY, not GAS !!!.  [ I’ve never bought gas off OVO/BOOST ]

Agent: Can I phone you ?

Me : Yes

Agent: I’ll ring you in 15 minutes. Immediately closes webchat, before I get chance to request transcript.

That was around 14:20. It’s now over 8 hours later.

 

My suspicion is this.

Earlier this year BOOST PAYG were supposed to transfer me to OVO Pay Monthly credit, but they made a mistake *edited by moderator* somewhere.

The meter switched to Credit mode, and the IHD stopped showing ‘PAYG money’ and no more beeps about running out. 

Everything ran along smoothly, nobody spotted the error, things just kept on working.

Untill 6th Dec, when a Watchdog error occured. I know a bit about watchdogs in metrology. The number one priority is to get the hardware working again, usually by reverting the system to a known-good state. Unfortunately, the meter got it’s knickers in a twist, which led it to switch to ‘Emergency Credit Active’ mode two days later, at 08:32 Saturday 9th. 

There were no warnings because they occur before the ‘EMC Active’ state, i.e. in the ‘EMC Available’ state, but there never was an ‘EMC Available’ state to trigger the beeps.

I can’t determine from the logs why the system only ran for 30 mins, but it looks like the Active state timed-out and cut off my power.

 

You are quite right about no comeback regarding Self-Disconnect, but this was an erronious disconnect when the meter was in Credit Mode.

 

I want some answers !

Userlevel 2

Interesting …. my last post ( which is not on show yet ) is being moderated.

Have I touched a nerve ?

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

You set off an AutoMod system designed to detect potential rulebreaking. As a result, your comment was held back until a human moderator reviewed, edited and released it. That has now been done by the looks of things.

Alas, you didn’t listen to my advice about not digging into the logs. I gave this warning because in 99% of cases, nothing useful will come of doing so and you appear to be digging into details that simply don’t exist.

One does not become an expert simply by reading a user manual.

Also, you can’t force me to answer to you. I’m a forum volunteer, so I have the discretion to completely ignore a thread should I wish to.

I will provide you with no further assistance. You’ll have to go via OVO or solve it yourself from here.

Userlevel 7

Hey @Buzby,

 

I’m really sorry about the issues you’ve had,

 

We don’t have access to your account on the Forum, so you’ll need to contact customer support to get a definintive answer. 

 

It sounds to me like you ran out of credit and went off supply. The following topics may have some helpful information:

 


 

How to get in contact about my OVO Pay As You Go account

 

  • The best way to get in touch with us is via chat here. Just click the green chat icon on the bottom right of your screen. We’re here to help anytime from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturday.
  • Or call us on 0330 175 9669 during the same times.

 

If you’re with Boost

Userlevel 2

I’m sorry @Blastoise186 , I did not mean to force you to anything. I spent hours on phones and webchats yesterday, and was losing my patience. My words may have come over in a way I didn’t see.

I know I’m not an expert, but I do know it was my electricity that went off.

Philie on the webchat apologised for my GAS going off !.

If OVO can’t even get this right, what hope have I got of getting a straight answer ?.

 

My comment about the watchdog error is because I know what the meter might do when one occurs.

Many years ago, when solid state meters were being introduced, I worked for a company that designed and built them. I worked in the test engineering dept, building the rigs that tested the meters.

The metrology engine had a watchdog, and when it triggered the meter restored the latest known good snapshot.  Snapshots were taken every 6 hours. This meant the meter might lose upto 6 hours of energy usage, but that was better than having a dead meter !.

This was on a simple meter, with a single microprocessor, and no comms or power switching.

I should expect that modern meters like the SGM1411B have far more complex hardware and software, so the response to a watchdog error could be more complex as well.

 

@Emmanuelle_OVO said “… it sounds like maybe the meter defaulted back to pay as you go “

A watchdog error is just the kind of event that might make a meter default to the wrong mode. It just depends how much effort the software designers put into error recovery, and from my experience over years of software development I know error recovery is the least of their concerns.

Also, as Emmanuelle suggested the meter ‘defaulted back’, is that because she knows of other times a meter misbehaved like this ?

Userlevel 2

@Emmanuelle_OVO 

It does look like I ran out of credit, but I thought I was on Pay Monthly !

 

Earlier this year I requested to move from PAYG to Pay Monthly.

The meter then changed to Credit mode, as did my IHD. Everything looked like I was on Pay Monthly. There was no ‘Balance Remaining’ feature, and no beeping when it was low.

I had been on PAYG for years, so I know exactly what happens when it runs out. The IHD shows a red bar, and the meter beeps a lot and offers EMC. None of this happened on Saturday morning.

 

Yesterday I spent hours on the phone to my new supplier, and in webchat to OVO/BOOST, but am still no clearer as to (a) why my switchover is still ‘in progress’, and (b) why the power went off.

 

My experience with OVO/BOOST these last few days has not been happy.  I was told the best way to communicate with OVO was through the webchat. I did that, was on for ages, but lost all confidence when the agent apologised for the problem with my GAS supply. When I pointed out it was my electricity that had the problem, she said she would phone me, and immediately closed the chat. I never got a call back.

 

Userlevel 7

Hey @Buzby,

 

Sorry to hear of the issues you’re having,

 

There is the option to raise a complaint. From what you say, it seems like the switch from Boost to OVO was never made, so you remained on pay as you go. Energy prices have increased, and we’re in winter so it’s completely feasible the payments you were making to Boost are no longer enough to cover your usage. 

 

We don’t have access to your account on the Forum, so I can only cast assumptions based on the information you have provided. 

 

I’m not sure why your switch isn’t going ahead, it might be due to you signing up to a pay monthly plan when your meter is in pay as you go mode? 

Userlevel 2

@Emmanuelle_OVO 

The problem I have with the switchover is now ( nearly ) solved. It is because I had a Pay Monthly debt that I knew nothing about !.

It was caused by a combination of events, starting with when I phoned BOOST earlier this year to change from PAYG to Pay Monthly.

The agent who handled it told me I would change to an OVO account, and that everything would ‘just work’. I did not receive any infomation about this new OVO account.

I did see my meter and IHD change from PAYG mode to Pay Monthly, and assumed everything was OK. The payments carried on being taken every month. The meter/IHD never beeped again !.

What I didn’t know was that the payments BOOST were taking were not going into the OVO account !.  ( I had no information about this OVO account until the last few days, after the flurry of calls about my cut-off. )

So all I have to do now is pay off the debt and the switchover should happen automatically.

I will pay this debt when OVO send me a corrected statement, not the one they sent yesterday. ( See my thread about 20p )

Also, I do have to now contact BOOST to find where my payments have gone !

 

Regarding my second problem, the unexpected cut-off, we are no nearer an answer.

If I was on PAYG there should have been beeps before the cut-off from the meter/IHD, with an option to access emergency credit.

If I was on Pay Monthly there should have been letters and emails saying I owed money. Maybe even a phone call chasing the debt. Cut-off would not have happened out of the blue.

 

When the debt is paid, and the switch to the new supplier is complete, I may decide to make a complaint. It will be two pronged. One about the cack-handed way BOOST changed me to OVO, the second about the cut-off with no warning.

 

My experience with OVO has not been good, and it’s not getting better.

Today I decided to setup my online account, but it wouldn’t accept my details.

 

I phoned, and was told there are problems with the system that won’t be fixed untill January !

 

:(

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Actually, for the most part once you’ve switched away and received the final refund, you can no longer complain to the former supplier because your relationship will have ended. Any open complaints may also get automatically closed out (with no Ombudsman intervention) at that point as well.

If you wish to raise one, it’s strongly recommended you do while still with them.

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