When is a reading not a reading?

  • 20 June 2017
  • 2 replies

Answer... when it's an estimate.
Today I read my electricity and gas meters and entered the readings into my online account. I have used only 0.5 cubic metres of gas since last month (current reading on 20 June 24276.5 cubic metres; reading on 20th May 24276.0cubic metres) but as there's no facility to submit digits to the right of the decimal point, the reading I entered was 24276 on both occasions
After entering the reading today I was rewarded with an on-screen message saying that my reading was the same as last months (which it was, for the above reason). There also was an on-screen message saying that the last reading, on 28th May was... and it gave a number I can't recall - but it was GREATER than 24276. And neither I nor anyone else made a reading on 28th May!
When I phoned to draw their attention to this, I was advised that the 28th May number was an ESTIMATE!. I've no real problem with energy companies estimating my usage based on previous usage so long as their method is mathematically sound. BUT THEY CANNOT CALL AN ESTIMATE A READING - OR VICE VERSA. Their phone representative said that their use of the word "reading" kept the web page "cleaner". Well that's a new one! The page can be as clean as they like, but no amount of cleanliness can correct a factual error.

2 replies

well at least they haven't removed your meter readings (yet?) because mine were on their system (I have the emails to confirm this), are no longer there but they say they didn't remove them. Keep all your emails!

Their idea of an estimate is anything that costs you more money but query it and you will lose the will to live trying to explain to them why they overestimate your usage..

I'm leaving Ovo for a cheaper supplier, the final bill will no doubt be wrong - if I get one at all as they have been very reluctant to send any.
I'm old enough to remember when there was no choice in your gas/electric/water supplier and I would return to that arrangement given the chance. "Choice" seems to be the buzz word. Supermarkets bang on about it and offer 20 brands of baked beans - all identically flavourless as competition encourages a race to the bottom.
There are dozens of energy suppliers and I've tried several and they are all fairly rubbish. You'll see from my username that I had particular issues with ScottishPower. I went to read my meter a few years back, and the LCD display was black - unreadable. I'll not bore you with the saga that ensued. Key points are:
I was without a meter for 9 months
I was told that although the display was faulty, the meter still kept an internal record that could be accessed once it was removed.
When meter was eventually changed, the technician said the idea that data could be retrieved was bollocks.
In the interim ScottishPower made hugely inflated estimates of my usage.
I took 3 days unpaid leave to be at home for the meter replacement technician who did not turn up.
I had to take my case to the Energy Ombudsman - and won compensation for my days off plus compensation for the 'distress' plus a refund for the exaggerated estimates.

Needless to say, I left SP. When choosing my next company I sat down with a stopwatch and my laptop.
I went to the homepage of a large number of companies and as soon as the page appeared, I started my stopwatch. I then navigated to the 'existing customer helpline number' (sometimes difficult to find!!) and dialled it. I stopped the stopwatch when my call was answered and explained that I was not an existing customer, but was choosing my next energy company based on how quickly they dealt with existing customers. OVO was the fastest, and that's why I'm with them! But I know that all the energy companies have poor records of customer satisfaction because it's such a cut throat market - which gets me back to the idea of a single Government run and independently scrutinised supplier for the domestic services that we all need. Just like the different brands of baked beans all taste the same, the electricity and gas supplied by the various energy companies are indistinguishable and, UNLIKE baked beans, essential. So should be supplied as not for profit by the state.