New smart meter won't connect - can't change tariff

Hi there

I want to move away from economy 7 since I no longer have storage heaters. Bulb gave me two options: pay £120 for a ‘legacy’ (non-smart) meter, or get a free smart meter. I went for the free smart meter because ‘free’.

The engineer installed the smart meter, but couldn’t get it to connect to the smart network due to a lack of signal. The meter is therefore functioning like a ‘regular’ meter.

Because the smart meter isn’t connecting Bulb are refusing to change my tariff to their standard variable (non-E7) rate. I’ve offered to submit manual readings, to be told (somewhat patronisingly) ‘it doesn’t work that way’. Last time I looked that’s exactly how it works.

They tell me they still haven’t had the report back from the engineer, and - when they do - they’ll try to connect remotely. The engineer already told me this wouldn’t work, but Bulb don’t seem to accept this which is madly frustrating.

I told Bulb I’d be happy to revert to the ‘legacy’ meter option, and pay the £120 fee, only to be told this would now cost £350(!!), and there are no available engineers for the foreseeable future.

This means I’ve been left paying a day rate of 23.5p for all my electric, since I no longer have an E7 meter. Bulb’s attitude has basically been ‘like it or lump it’. They seem to be taking something that is very much their problem and making it my problem.

I’ve submitted a complaint, citing the Consumer Rights Act 2015: they are providing 'goods unfit for a particular purpose (I have an E7 tariff but no E7 meter); they have also shown a lack of transparency (the £350 fee wasn’t highlighted at any stage prior to now, meaning I was unable to make an informed decision).

I think part of the issue is that Bulb know I can’t currently change supplier due to the current energy crisis, so they can basically treat me however they like.

The way I’ve been treated by Bulb has been contemptible. I’m raising this in the forum in advance of raising it with the Energy Ombudsman, Trading Standards and Which, so as to warn others before they decide to switch to a Bulb smart meter.

Hey @daveagriffiths Thanks for your post.

We are sorry you have had these issues with your smart meter, we can understand why you would be frustrated with this.

The connection issue is something we would have liked to avoid however in rare occasions these meters may struggle to connect and in those scenarios we will attempt to get that sorted. Some connection issues are not fixable as of yet and because of that we cannot amend the configuration (the way the meter is billed).

We can appreciate that the communication around the charge has caused a concern, as above it is rare for a smart meter to have a problem with the connection but we apologise that the charge was not mentioned at the time.

We do not want to lose you as a customer but to confirm you are not locked in with us, we do not charge exit fees and my colleague did mention to see if another supplier could amend this tariff manually which we cannot do at the moment.

What we will do is speak to the colleague dealing with the complaint to assess the cost of the job to remove the meter and will ask them to update you as soon as possible with the next steps in your complaint.

We do understand from your experience here why you would be disappointed however because of the connection issue we cannot communicate with the meter to change the tariff, the meter itself is not actually faulty which is why there is a cost to the job.

We will speak with the colleague and ensure you are updated as soon as possible.

Carl :bulb:

I can’t change supplier because none of the other providers are accepting customers on a variable tariff, and the few available fixed tariffs are extortionate. Otherwise I would have switched as you suggest.

I am yet to receive a clear reason as to why I can’t simply provide a manual reading - the meter still provides the amount of kWh I’m using. What is the difference from me providing a legacy meter reading? Whatever billing system you are utilising here is clearly not fit for purpose.

I did notice today that the smart meter does now appear to have a signal, in that it has several bars showing like on a mobile phone. It didn’t have these previously. Perhaps the first thing to try would be for you to send Siemens back to have another go at commissioning it. This shouldn’t come at a cost to Bulb, since this is an issue with Siemens’ installation.

If this doesn’t work, then the issue is clearly between Bulb and Siemens. It is unreasonable for me to be asked to pay an extortionate amount for a problem that isn’t my fault, for which I wasn’t forewarned, and to cover the costs of a sub-contractor I had no part in appointing. This is clearly in breach of my consumer rights.

I am however willing to pay the original £120 quoted to fit a legacy meter instead as a way of resolving the issue. I would hope that Bulb would also be willing to find a reasonable solution given the apparently rarity of this scenario.

Hi @daveagriffiths

As my colleague explained, we can try to remotely commision the meter again, but would need to wait at least 14 days for the meter technical details to reach us before this was possible.

Unfortunately, we can’t bill you on a manual total reading whilst your meter is configured as a two rate meter, as it would cause significant complications with industry data and would mean we are technically billing you incorrectly.

I’ve reached out to my colleague you have been speaking with via email, to let him know you have been in touch via community.

Thanks - E :sunny:

Hi. My meter hasn’t been configured as a two rate meter. It has the potential to be a two rate meter, but because I was switching to single rate the installer configured it as a single rate. As such, you would be billing me accurately if I read the meter manually.
I wasn’t suggesting remotely commissioning the meter. I was suggesting sending Siemens back to commission the meter. I would imagine it is commonplace for them to return to a site when there’s a problem.
Thanks. David

Hi @daveagriffiths,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I can see you have been in touch over email and your smart meter is sending us readings.

–KT :bulb:

The smart meter is sending readings, but I am still waiting for my tariff to be changed over. I am unclear as to what is the continued delay. Could you please look into it?

Hi @daveagriffiths :wave:

I can see this has been raised with the smart team but we’re just waiting for an update from them. As soon as we hear back from them about changing your tariff we’ll let you know.

– Meg :bulb:

Hi, they’ve changed my tariff, I’m now just waiting for the little display thing for inside my flat.
Could you please look into it for me?