Mr Smith lives in on his own in a one bedroom house owned by Live West. The house has night storage heaters and a smart meter. Mr Smith has Parkinsons and spends most of his time sat in his armchair in the lounge, looking out at the trees in the small unkept garden. He was referred to us by the lovely staff at Totnes Caring because his bills were very high.
He had been paying £110 a month, but EDF wrote to him to say they wanted to increase the monthly direct debit to £160.
Sophie visited the property, it was apparent that there was not much electricity being used, no appliances were on standby, no spare lights were on. There was a smart meter so Sophie took a look. The first visit took place in November 2018, the smart meter had been installed in June 2018.
Sophie looked at the bills, strangely the estimated annual consumption was 5260 kWh in the day and 1028 kWh at night. This didn’t make sense because the house had night storage heaters. Sophie checked the immersion heater had not been left on, Mr Smith assured her he understood how to use it and it came on overnight. They checked if the smart meter was recording correctly by switching on appliances to see the usage change on the display. All seemed fine.
Sophie phoned EDF PSR team, who were always helpful throughout this case, they checked if there was a cheaper tariff available. Sophie questioned the anomaly with the assumed annual consumption. They said there was nothing that could be done. Despite this Sophie made sure the monthly direct debit was not increased to £160, and it was set at £90, the readings from June-Sep on the smart meter showed that £160 was too much, but as it was approaching winter Sophie made sure she would return to check everything was ok after a month or so.
Sophie spent a while looking at different tariffs and whether it would be worth Mr Smith having a single rate meter installed. We were reluctant to switch away from EDF as the savings were not huge since Mr Smith is not online. And the EDF team had been so helpful, it was reassuring to know they would provide support if it was ever needed.
In January Sophie visited again to check the meter readings and see if there were any cheaper tariffs. Now there was 6 months of usage on the smart meter so Sophie simply doubled that to work out the average annual consumption rather than using the figures from the bills as she just didn’t believe they were accurate. But she needed proof!
Lo and behold, when doubled, the smart meter readings gave 5096 kWh night consumption and 1228 kWh day consumption. It was almost exactly opposite to the figures on Mr Smith’s bills that were being used by EDF to calculate his direct debit payments.
Sophie got straight on the phone to EDF, and was put through to the Customer Solutions Team who listened carefully and opened up a complaint. They promised to investigate and get back to us.
After a week, Sophie heard back, prior to the smart meter there had been a meter installed for 6 yrs from 2012 to 2018 - was it possible that this meter had been recording the rates the wrong way round? EDF asked Sophie to carry out a space test to check the current meter was working. Sophie visited and took a reading, returning two hours later to find that neither reading had changed! She went in and put on the kettle and toaster a couple of times, and the meter eventually showed a change and that it was recording day/night consumption correctly. Sophie reported back to EDF. They said, please bear with us, this will take a while, we have to rebill the account for the entire 6 years of inaccurate billing!
After two weeks they were back in touch, with the amazing news that they would be refunding Mr Smith £2450!
It is a shame that Mr Smith had overpayed for such a long time, and he had felt for some time that this was not right, but no one had been able to solve the problem. Now his monthly direct debit is set to around £70, which unfortunately is still high for one person living alone, but this is the cost of electric heating for someone unable to access an online tariff.
Sophie was very impressed by the PSR team at EDF and the Customer Solutions Team, but there should be a way of their system picking up anomalies in people’s meter readings to prevent situations like this happening.
Total visits to client: 5
Hours spent: 10 (+ travel time)
Miles driven to visit client: 75
Financial benefit to client: £3570
Welcome to SDCE stories!
Over the next few months more stories will appear here; stories about some of our lovely energy advice clients, stories about SDCE projects, stories about our experiences in the energy sector, and anything else we'd like to tell you about.