In a meeting with UK Government officials today I raised a number of concerns from my constituents about smart meters. I believe that we need a charter of consumer rights for energy companies to improve their customer service.
Some constituents have been left for months on end with broken smart meters, unable to monitor their energy usage and bills. Others have faced problems when switching between energy companies, with smart meters effectively stopping working and not being replaced.
I pressed the officials to take account of the particular challenges of rural areas like North East Fife where lack of mobile connectivity means that forcing customers to use smart meters is not appropriate. I also asked for clarifications on the phase-out of RTS meters and what is being done to ensure the change is clearly communicated to customers.
People are struggling because of hikes in their energy bills, and it’s all the more important that they can keep track of how much energy they are using. Instead, too many have been left for months with broken or inactive meters, or have been forced onto smart meters when they know there is a lack of mobile connectivity in their area. Energy companies need to urgently improve their processes for replacing faulty smart meters, and to put measures in place so that meters stay active when customers change company.
The theme across all these cases is consistently poor customer service and delays. Many constituents come to me with these problems because they are at their wit’s end trying to get their energy company to provide a solution. I am glad to support my constituents in whatever way I can, but it just shows how broken the system is. A charter of consumer rights for energy companies, like those which exist for other sectors, would be a first step in holding the companies to account.