(Astronomical) estimated bill despite smart meter

Hello.
After months of successfully reducing my consumption to £10-15/month, and after installing Bulb smart meter, I received an estimated bill of £150 for four months (2 and a half of which spent travelling). I wrote an email two days ago and heard nothing back. Needless to say that I am really not happy about this. Any advice?

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Once upon a time I would have recommended contacting Bulb. Indeed following an similar unrealistically high estimate, I experienced a successful resolution by contacting Bulb who accepted my accurate readings.

Sadly much has changed with Bulb since then. Around the time of the roll out of smart meters I’ve experienced a noticeable decline in my customer satisfaction and user experience whilst interacting with Bulb. It might be a massive oversimplification, but I’d imagine that the nexus of rapid inorganic growth, problems associated with the smart meter rollout has meant demand on Bulb’s customer agents has greatly surpassed their ability to maintain a level of customer service that meets it’s customers expectations!

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Hi. Thanks for your reply.
My worry is that they now want to charge me £38/month, when - with the credit I had built throughout the year - I had reached a point where I could afford to set up payments at £5/month.

I understand that they might be having to adjust to the expanded clientele and demand, but they should have probably waited a little longer for a similar rollout of claims then!

If it’s any consolation, I still have faith in Bulb. We just need to weather the storm as they say.

I’m confident that once the issues with the smart meters, (which in the main, are beyond Bulbs control) are ironed out, normal service will resume. Thus this is NOT the new normal!

There are always snagging / teething problems when rolling out new technology.

You should also remember you have the ability to control how much you pay via your Direct Debit.

I suggest you

  1. Contact Bulb via the in-app chat and provide photographic evidence of the actual reading, but be prepared to wait sometime for a response and you may need to follow it up, if you haven’t had a response in 3 weeks.

  2. Monitor your next few statements and amend your DD accordingly.

** Edited to include **
This December statement I’ve just received, is the first since my June statement when my smart meter was fit. So I’m actually grateful to receive a statement at all, even though the electric reading is based on an incorrect estimate.

My actions

  1. I contacted Bulb as I suggested above and trust the error will eventually be resolved.
    As I had a substantial credit, it paid the £200 + bill and I still have small credit balance remaining.

  2. I also updated my direct debit to £45 from £25, which I’ll monitor over the next few statements. And once I pass March I’ll reduce it back to between £15- 25 until October. (I have solar and use about 5 kWh of gas over the summer months).

@Fegu you also might find this thread helpful in explaining what happened and what might happen next

Best give them a manual reading just like you used to do. Not ideal of course when it’s all supposed to work automatically, but it’ll at least keep your account up to date while all the bugs are worked out.

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I admire your faith in Bulb and hope you’re correct and things will get better but personally I’ve had enough of being over charged and ignored and I’m looking to join one of the big companies who can at least handle large amounts of customers. It may cost me more but at least I’ll get some customer service and I’ll stop pulling my hair out.

@Bulberino When you say “over charged” do you mean on your statement or direct debit?

If you’re referring to your statement, then make sure you’re submitting regular meter readings to ensure your Statements are based on actual readings rather than estimates.

If you’re referring to your direct debit, then you’re in complete control of that (unless you’re in debt).

I just see this phase with the smart meters as “teething problems”. But you are entitled to your opinion and free to change to a supplier whenever you want.

I can’t submit meter readings on the app anymore. I assumed it was because of having a smart meter fitted.
My bill is currently being estimated by bulb as they obviously can’t receive my readings from the smart meters.
I’ve altered my direct debit to ensure I’m not paying too much but these “teething problems” are happening with a hell of a lot of customers and I only wish I had your faith in them getting better any time soon.
As a final comment I don’t think the smart meters should have been installed before bulb were capable of dealing with them. I’ve heard that bulb are currently investing in new staff, equipment and technology and as you said they have expanded to quickly and can’t cope. Personally I don’t think this situation should be allowed to happen by the regulator.
Believe it or not just after I joined bulb I received a £10 credit to my account after 1 email I sent them took 6 days to be answered. If I added up the number of ignored emails I’ve sent recently they owe me over £200.

My story started June 3rd when I had my new smart meters installed. The smart meters were offered as a way to resolve the issue of my old magnet based electricity meter running backwards following the installation of PV solar panels in March.

After the smart meters installation only my gas meter appeared to be communicating with the IHD, even though

  1. The electricity meter is the closest to the IHD
  2. the electricity meter is required to communicate with the IHD.
  3. Both meters are within 10 metres of each other and the IHD
  4. The IHD is connected to my home WIFI

My issue is further compounded by the fact I’m also prevented from submitting manual meter readings because the new electricity meter has not been properly commissioned so did not appear to be linked to my account, meaning the new lower electricity reading is not accepted.

All of the above had culminated in me not having received an “accurate” statement since March or statement of any kind since June.

I also recently noticed my account seemed to have been momentarily updated with the correct automatic reading from my communicating electricity meter as this WAS visible on the account for a few days before completely disappearing and removing all electricity reading after June 2019.

I’d long since stopped actively pursuing my problems via customer services as the reassurance and promises of fixes never materialised or date passed without resolution, and or the Bulb CS agent was unable to determine when an engineer would be able to provide a fix for the problems with the electricity smarter meter.

However after seeing the volume of similar issues on the Bulb community I used Bulbs in-app chat function to speak to an agent.

I explained my issue with the electricity meter and sent a photo. The agent told me he’d update my account with the new meter details. He informed me it wouldn’t resolve all my issues, but should allow me to submit manual electricity reading. He also told me to give it two weeks and come back to Bulb if my old meter was still attached to my account when i try it provide readings.

Fast forward to Wednesday (December 11th) when my December statement arrived. As it was the first since my June statement when my smart meter was fited I was actually grateful to receive a statement at all, even though the electric reading is based on an incorrect estimate. The bill was just over £200 so the monthly direct debits which had be accumulating covered the statement leaving a small balance remaining.

Now I’m not even sure whether the Bulb Agent’s action were related to getting my statement, all I confirm is now have a statement for with Smart Meter details for gas and my gas readings are displayed correctly on my account. I still have an estimate for Electricity but am hopeful the electricity issue will be resolved and working correctly by the new year. If not I’ll follow this up once more.

Now I appreciate how frustrating all this must be and my story may offer little comfort, but the issues with the Smart Meter rollout aren’t, in the main Bulbs fault. Rather the fault resides with the governments poor implementation plan and refusal to listen to advice on managing it centrally using the trained work force for installation and benefit from being able to work in and resolve issues by geographic area, rather placing the burden on each supplier to achieve the deadline in a piecemeal way.

Bulbs “crime” is the lack of communication and transparency around the extent of problems

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