Faulty energy meter resolution dispute

in Energy
23 replies 945 views
DavidWTDavidWT Forumite
8 Posts
First Post
Hello all,

I currently have dispute with my (now former) energy company involving a faulty energy meter, and subsequent overcharging. Even with the involvement of the Energy Ombudsman I have unable to reach a satisfactory resolution, or in fact any resolution. The issue is quite complex, so please forgive me whilst i try to give as brief a summary as possible:

  • Shortly after moving into a property in 2016 I began an economy 7 tariff, which commenced in July of 2016.
  • In April 2022 due to raising energy prices I began to monitor my energy usage more closely. Due to the fact the property I was living in at the time did not have a smart meter this involved taking daily meter readings.
  • It quickly became apparent that my night/low meter was not progressing, whilst the day/normal meter appeared to be functioning correctly.
  • I reported this issue to my energy company as soon as I became aware that I suspected a fault. My energy company took a further two months to send an engineer out to look at my meter. The engineer confirmed that my meter was faulty, specifically it lacked a time switch. Essentially this meant that all my energy usage was being recorded on the day/normal meter and none on the night/low meter, regardless what time of day it was.
  • This has meant that all my usage has been charged at higher day rate, and none at the lower night rate, leading my former energy company to overcharge me.
  • My former energy company's proposed resolution was to replace the meter and use current usage as a means of estimating usage over the previous 6 years. This was not a resolution I was willing to accept due to the fact that raising energy prices had fundamentally altered my usage habits. Current usage would be no indication of past usage.
  • The issue was further complicated by the fact that my energy company was unable to replace my meter due to faulty wiring. Repairing this wiring was the responsibility of UK Power Network. However in order to carry out this work permission to cut power to the flats above and below my residence was required.
  • After several months of waiting for UK Power Network to obtain this permission and carry out the work I requested that my energy company suggest an alternative means of estimating my energy usage, and thus calculate the amount of money they owed me. They refused, and I referred the matter the energy ombudsman.
  • I contacted the energy ombudsman arguing that there must be procedure for when the circumstances are such that current energy usage at a property can not be obtained, such as if a person were to move property mid dispute. My reasoning being that after 6 months of waiting for UK Power Network to carry out their work, and them being unable to provide any estimation of when they would carry out said work, that is a reasonable request for this procedure to be implemented.
  • The ombudsman sided with my energy company stating that the only way of calculating how much money I was owed was through the use of meter readings, and until my faulty meter was replaced there was nothing they, or my energy company could do to refund me the amount I had been overcharged.
  • Frustrated at the lack of progress I switched energy suppliers. This compelled my energy company to commit to a final meter reading for the property. My energy company did this, and claimed on my final bill that I had used no energy at all (quite literally 0 kWh in 6 years) between the off peak hours (00:30-07:30) and charged all my energy usage at the day rate.
  • This bill stated the unit rate, and the amount of units used over the course the 6 years I was with them. By using a plug in energy consumption monitor where possible, and wattage rating where not, I was able to create a spreadsheet detailing when, for how long each day each, and how much power drawn, for each of my appliances. This spreadsheet was able to calculate my total energy usage as provided by my electricity meter with an error of less than one percent.
  • Using this spreadsheet I was able to calculate I had been overcharged by £4337.10.
  • Due to a change in personal circumstances in November 2022 I moved home, and no longer reside at the property associated with this dispute. This means that I no longer have access to the property, nor do I have the legal right to have the electricity meter there replaced. The current resident has been made aware of the fault to the meter, and has opted to use a standard tariff. The meter at the property functions perfectly well as a standard tariff meter, and as such they are not perusing UK Power Network to do the prerequisite work that would allow a new meter to be installed.
  • Given these change in circumstances I again contacted my former energy company. They told me that a resolution had been offered by the Ombudsman and that I should follow that.  When I pointed out that this resolution could no longer be implemented they insisted this was an issue that needed to be resolved by the Ombudsman.
  • I contacted the Ombudsman, however they said they can take no further action unless my former energy company refuses to implement their resolution. However my energy company will not implement that resolution (which incidentally wont work, as any meter readings they take wont be of my usage) until I take action which is now impossible for me to take.
So this leaves me in a limbo, in which the Ombudsman wont act until my former energy company enacts a resolution that is impossible to enact. Short of a small claims court, which is a route I am reluctant to take due to the associated time and monetary costs, what other options, if any, do I have? I've clearly been overcharged, and I am clearly entitled to a refund. All I want is what is owed me.

Many Thanks,


  • pochasepochase Forumite
    3.3K Posts
    1,000 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    As a minimum you should ask them to recalculate the bill based on single rate instead of expensive day rate.

    But did you really not see for almost 6 years that you were charged nothing at night rates? Did you not submit meter readings and did see that the night rate did not move forward?
  • CanNeverThinkOfAUsernameCanNeverThinkOfAUsername Forumite
    210 Posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
    Hi David,

    I do have some bad news for you. I used to work for a energy supplier (I left last year due to abuse from customers so this info could be out of date). When a customer reports a faulty meter we would only backdate any re-billing upto the date the customer told us it might be faulty. I have never once seen this go back a number of years, ever.

    To do the re-billing we would install a new meter, bill monthly for between 6-8 months, then use the usage to re-bill and estimate the meter readings going back to when the customer first told us it was faulty. (we never tested meters as we didn't have the correct kit, we got the kit just as i left, lol).

    As they have already offered this, and the fact you've already gone to the Ombudsman i don't really think you have anywhere else to go if I'm being 100% honest with you. You could go to the small claims court, but due to the fact the Ombudsman has already agreed with the supplier this will not help your case.

    Sorry it's not better news!
  • EssexHebrideanEssexHebridean Forumite
    17.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Presumably the Economy 7 recordings onto the two rates worked correctly when you first switched over to it - so what percentage were you using at the night rate at that point? I assume you have night storage heaters, and an immersion heater for water - and they still switched over correctly even once the meter failed to make the switch to the off-peak? Does going back over your bills give you the point the switch stopped happening (although that in itself begs the question as to how you didn’t spot it right away, but still!) - with the former percentage on night rate, historic standard tariff rates, and the actual date of the failure, you should at least be able to work out an accurate estimate of what you should be owed in theory, which may prove to be more reliable (although probably lower in figure) than your current spreadsheet. It may sit better with the supplier if they are presented with a figure based on evidence though, and applying the correct tariff rates throughout. 
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  • MobtrMobtr Forumite
    423 Posts
    100 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Has the low rate not advanced for the whole time you were at the property & how did you not realise before April of last year. 
    What appliances did you have on the night rate, we’re you all electric with storage heaters or panel heaters or did you have gas central heating. 
    Also, depending on the meter type & age there is a possibility that the low rate just stopped and didn’t advance but the usage was not necessarily transferred onto your day rate, that just advanced as normal. Now that you’re no longer there it’s going to be impossible to know now 
  • DavidWTDavidWT Forumite
    8 Posts
    First Post
    Hi all,

    Thanks for the advice. To clarify I have photographic evidence that meter has been faulty for the entire period I was at the property.

    I will admit to a certain level of naivety as to not understanding for 6 years what the correct operation of dual rate meter should be, but naivety in no way equates to liability and my energy company has taken advantage of that naivety to overcharge me. It's the energy company's legal obligation to ensure that the meter is functioning correctly, and I'm dismayed by CanNeverThinkOfAUsername admission that energy companys are not more frequently held financially liable for this responsibility.

    There has been a clear breach in contract. I paid for an economy 7 service, but did not receive that service. I guess the legal question is should I be charged, as pochase has suggested for a single tariff, a very simple calculation to carry out, or do we need to calculate the cost of tariff I was under contract for? Do I have to pay for the service that was provided, or the service I should of been provided? I'm no lawyer, but my instinct is it would be the latter.

    Unfortunately I think this is heading to court. My former provider clearly failed in their responsibility to ensure my meter was working, and failed to provide me the contracted service. Yes, the Ombudsman has ruled in their favour, but that judgement has no legal weight, and I fail to see what laws they've based their judgement on.

  • Keep_pedallingKeep_pedalling Forumite
    13.4K Posts
    Eighth Anniversary 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    I don’t get your objection about using you current usage to estimate past usage, surely if you have adjusted your use because of increased energy costs, your objective will have been to shift more on to the cheaper night rate so your percentage of daytime use will have dropped and it would work to your advantage., but even if that was not the case I can’t see another way of doing it.
  • DavidWTDavidWT Forumite
    8 Posts
    First Post
    Keep_pedalling The property I lived at the time was heated entirely by electric heaters. We did not have storage heaters due to the fact that the property was not occupied during the day; all that stored heat would just have been used to heat an empty flat which seemed a waste. Also there was an initial capital cost for the storage heaters that we could not afford. Why go Economy 7 then? I told that was the only option for my account, and I could not change to a standard tariff. This was later discovered to be an administrative fault with the energy company's IT system, and the current occupant of that property is on a standard tariff.

    Instead we would have the heat on during the evening, and early morning when we woke up. More importantly we would keep a certain level of heat running all night, as due to the extremely poor insulation the heat from the evening wouldn't last the night.

    This is a practice we stopped in early 2022 due to raising energy prices, instead opting to frankly be cold in the dead of night. This means that whilst we essential use during the day remained unchanged, this overnight heating stopped, thus skewing the night/day balance away from what it was in the past 5 and 1/2 years.

    Even if I were to accept this resolution (I mean it would get some of my money back but not all of it) this can no longer be implemented due to the reasons outline in my original post.
  • MobtrMobtr Forumite
    423 Posts
    100 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    In the 6 years you were there did you give regular meter readings which showed the low rate was not advancing or were all of your bills based on estimates and you didn’t realise the low rate was not advancing until you started to take reads in April 2022? 
  • DavidWTDavidWT Forumite
    8 Posts
    First Post
    I gave regular meter readings, all of them would have had the same low meter reading. I assumed my energy company would inform me if there was a problem, such as submitting identical low meter readings. Instead of warning me of a possible problem with my meter they simply ignored my submitted reading and instead started to estimate readings for my low meter, and it was only when I changed energy company that they acknowledged my low meter had not advanced.

    I did not pay much attention to past readings, I simply submitted the current reading, and it was only until April 2022 when I looked at the difference between daily readings as means of determining my daily energy usage that I discovered the problem.

    The Ombudsman ruled that my energy company "billed you correctly in the absence of accurate advancing meter readings". However my argument if that I provided accurate readings from my meter which my energy company choose to ignore, which resulted in them billing me incorrectly. My energy company is responsible for ensuring I have a working meter installed at my property, and they had the means to determine the fault by observing the fact that I always submitted the same low meter reading. Instead they choose to ignore the evidence I provided them, assuming the fault was with me and not the meter.
  • MobtrMobtr Forumite
    423 Posts
    100 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    So when you submitted your readings but then received an estimated bill, did you not query it? 
    Surely if this happened over 6 years you must have spoken to them several times about it. 

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