British Gas meter reading error leads to huge (incorrect) bill - how to fix?

Petriix
Petriix Posts: 2,018
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edited 29 January at 6:44PM in Energy
Hello friendly Energy forumites.

I'm helping someone unpick an unfortunate issue with BG which has been triggered by their smart meter suddenly starting to communicate the R01 and R02 readings where the cumulative total had previously always been (erroneously) used; this possibly coincided with the switch to the new billing system.

As I understand, the customer was incorrectly advised how to read their Liberty Secure meter by pressing button 9. There was unfortunately some previous usage on R02 meaning that the cumulative total is around the 9,000 mark while each for R01 and R02 currently show around 4,500.

What appears to have happened is the old account was closed with a zero balance using the cumulative reading, but the new account has been opened with a ridiculously low estimate for R01 at around 1,200 where it would have been more like 3,000 at that time. The good news is that the smart meter data shows the exact actual usage, and this is shown on the 'your energy usage' page (and downloadable from n3rgy).

As things stand there's an overcharge of about £700 showing on the account.

My question to you lovely folk is: how on earth do we communicate this to BG in a way that will resolve the issue? Are there any special contact details for anyone at the company with enough intelligence to unpick this?

So far all previous communication from the customer has been met with "don't worry, it's all correct" when it's clearly way out; although the details of the discrepancy have only just come to light with my involvement.

Comments

  • alicef
    alicef Posts: 286
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    @Petriix  I had a similar issue - it was finally resolved by having a SMETS2 meter put in by BGas.   The BGas installer pressed 9 to take the final read on the Liberty meter before putting in the new meter.

    I suspect that my original Liberty meter was installed when OVO was my supplier back in 2018.  I was always told to press 9 to supply a meter read and I have never been on a dual rate tariff.  Somehow, at some time, units were recorded on both the R01 and R02 registers - don't know why - nobody could tell me.  All fine until British Gas took over from my failed supplier and started to take smart readings and only recorded the R01.  

    I wish you all the very best with getting this resolved, (I would raise a complaint).  
  • Petriix
    Petriix Posts: 2,018
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    @alicef that's very interesting. It's unlikely we could resolve it in the same way because the additional charges are baked in via a bill dated about 6 months ago. I'm just going to have to try to get through to the right person who can get the account rewritten based on realistic readings. The R02 reading isn't increasing at all now so I think it's as simple as asking them to deduct the R02 total from every previous reading: cumulative - R02 = R01.

    I'm really not sure why they felt the need to estimate some random previous reading rather than just starting from the R01 reading on the new system because that would have completely avoided the issue. 
  • alicef
    alicef Posts: 286
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    @Petriix - ouch. 
    My R02 register didn't increase in the time I was with BG.  The issue going forward with the Liberty is that the R02 units are there.  If you have the meter swopped out and the installer does what mine did i.e. record the cumulative figure - what then?  Plus the likelihood of BGas being able to performing a calc, as you suggest, is about as likely as me winning the lotto and euromillions this week. 

    My recommendation is to slap in a complaint with BGas and switch to Octopus now - I haven't regretted it. 
  • Petriix
    Petriix Posts: 2,018
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    alicef said:
    @Petriix - ouch. 
    My R02 register didn't increase in the time I was with BG.  The issue going forward with the Liberty is that the R02 units are there.  If you have the meter swopped out and the installer does what mine did i.e. record the cumulative figure - what then?  Plus the likelihood of BGas being able to performing a calc, as you suggest, is about as likely as me winning the lotto and euromillions this week. 

    My recommendation is to slap in a complaint with BGas and switch to Octopus now - I haven't regretted it. 
    Sadly they can't switch while there's a supposed £1300 debt on their account. And, unfortunately, the smart meter readings are going through reliably and all current and future bills are based on the crazy estimate which was over 2,000kWh too low. If they accepted the cumulative reading now it would add another 4,700kWh on top. 
  • alicef
    alicef Posts: 286
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    Hi @Petriix

    If a complaint hasn't been started then I would recommend kicking one off - I was given the run around by BG CS until I pointed out that the complaint would be going to the ombudsman in a matter of days; that is when the new SMETS2 meter installation was arranged.

    I do think there is something very odd about the Liberty Secure meters - some suppliers said press 9 some said press 6 - I get the impression that it was bit 'wild west' with the Liberty SMETS1 set up.

    Far more knowledgeable people on this forum may be able to give better insight. I only can relate my own experience with the Liberty & BG.



  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,684
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    If you haven't already, follow BGs complaint process and spell out, in simple terms, that your meter has two regiaters and that the old billing system was using the cumulative reading but rhe new system is only using R01.
    If you don't reach a satisfactory conclusion in eight weeks, you can refer your case to the ombudsman.
    There's a link to BGs complaints process from their home page.
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
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  • Mobtr
    Mobtr Posts: 613
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    Were you ever supplied by Utilita? They seem to bill differently to every other supplier, using both registers but billing on the total so when the customer changes supplier it causes all sorts of issues like this where the new supplier pulls the rate 1 reading which is lower than what they had previously been billed on 
  • Petriix
    Petriix Posts: 2,018
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    Mobtr said:
    Were you ever supplied by Utilita? They seem to bill differently to every other supplier, using both registers but billing on the total so when the customer changes supplier it causes all sorts of issues like this where the new supplier pulls the rate 1 reading which is lower than what they had previously been billed on 
    Yes, I believe that the smart meter IHD is Utilita branded so it would make sense.

    I've said for a long time that smart meters recording on multiple registers is a recipe for disaster. Basically if anything other than R01 is ever used then all non-zero registers need to be reported at every reading. However most suppliers don't seem to have to systems in place to record previously used (but now redundant) registers. Some smart meters even hide them. 

    @QrizB has given me a really simple way of explaining it which will be my angle of attack with BG. I'll let you know how it goes, probably in about 3 months... 
  • wild666
    wild666 Posts: 2,102
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    I had the free electric from BG from 2015 to March 2018 and that gave two readings and a total reading. When I give my supplier a reading I always use the ACT 1 reading as that is minus the free electric I used to get on a Sunday between 09:00 and 17:00. The ACT 2 stopped on my meter in September 2019 but until then I had to give the supplier, not BG, two readings every month.
    Someone please tell me what money is
  • alicef
    alicef Posts: 286
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    @Mobtr - I don't think I was with Utilita at any point and, @wild666, I certainly wasn't with BGas until SOLR'd from PfP, so when and which supplier, and why,  used the R02 register is a mystery - at least my meter swop out happened before the BGas system migration.  Would be very interested to know the outcome of your complaint @Petriix.
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