Utilita faces new customer ban after installing smart meters that don’t always work when you switch

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Former_MSE_NaomiFormer_MSE_Naomi Former MSE
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Energy supplier Utilita is facing a ban on taking on new customers after installing old first generation smart meters that often don't work when households switch...

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'Utilita faces new customer ban after installing smart meters that don’t always work when you switch'

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  • edited 17 February 2021 at 6:18PM
    nottsphilnottsphil Forumite
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    edited 17 February 2021 at 6:18PM
    From the article:-
    Utilita's chief executive Bill Bullen said he doesn't believe second generation meters are as effective for prepayment meter customers, which is the firm's main customer base. MoneySavingExpert.com has asked Utilita for more information on this and we'll update this story when we hear back. 

    It's getting on for 3 months now, so where is this further information? Have Utilita been handed  the 1st of July deadline?

    Meanwhile, I'm interested in what Utilita has already said in the article:-
    "For  pay-as-you-go customers, SMETS 1 meters are proven, secure, robust and reliable, and provide excellent functionality. Serving pay-as-you-go energy households effectively is our main objective, and SMETS 2 meters do not enable us to do this in the same way that SMETS 1 meters do."

    Now, it'd be naive to think that Utilita's prime motivation for SMETS1 meters wasn't that it would be impractical to switch to a credit tariff with another supplier. But is there any truth in the claim that they can perform functions that SMETS2 can't?
  • UnclaimedEnergyUnclaimedEnergy Forumite
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    Because they already have installed Smets1 meters, they can argue they know it's proven for PPM. However, because they haven't been installing Smets2 meters they are unlikely to have done anything to check to see if they match up to Smets1 in terms of PPM.

    The argument is all around Smets2 being untested on a bulk scale for PPM. The correct approach by a supplier whose customer base is mainly PPM would be to do a bulk test, however it's likely they have too many Smets1 meters that they need to get rid of and are therefore using the above excuse.

    Considering that they took on Eversmart Energy with the intention of installing Smets1 meters to all of them, using the 'this is better for PPM' excuse really goes against market competitiveness. It allows them to 'blackmail' customers to staying with them by using the argument that their smart meter won't work with another supplier.

    Currently the final order has been closed due to lockdown affecting meter installations. However Ofgem are still monitoring the installation numbers in the background and Utilita have 'promised' that they'll start installing Smets2.
  • edited 22 February 2021 at 1:16AM
    nottsphilnottsphil Forumite
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    edited 22 February 2021 at 1:16AM
    Thanks, but I see that the development you mentioned at the end actually occurred last month! The original article is still there, weeks out of date, so it's a bit shoddy of MSE to say they would keep it updated and not do so. 

    https://www.choose.co.uk/news/2021/ofgem-withdraws-threat-final-order-against-utilita/

    As you alluded to, Utilita argue
    We record 25 top-ups per second at peak times and SMETS2 meters are unproven at this transaction volume.

    Surely any such problem would be with their servers, not with any individual meter?
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