I had a series of letters that …. being careful how I put this …. implied much the same thing. They didn’t quite come out so definitively with “not safe”, just that the “old” meter was due for replacement. But here’s the thing - the meter I had (and still have) was a “dumb” meter that had been newly installed 10 months earlier. Yup, their “old” meter, that they implied needed to be replaced on age grounds, was less than a year old.
So I just ignored (but filed) these letters. I got several, about 3 or 4 months apart, over about 18 months before I lost my temper. I rang and complained about the, and I quote “campaign of harrassment” to fit a smart meter, which was NEVER going to happen here, if I had any choice.
The person quoted in that article saying it’s not obligatory is (or at least was) quite right. Water meters are mandatory, in those areas where the water company has chosen to exercise that right, which mine has. Not that I minded, having aready opted for one. But gas or electricity? Nope.
Why the different approach? With water, the old system was based on ‘rateable value’, i.e. for rates, then council tax banding purposes and this is a relatively big house with just the two of us rattling around in it. Being on a meter does save money, ’cos the assumption built in the the old system is that there’s probably 5 or 6 here, inc kids. The meter is based on actual usage. Our metered bills are, literally, about 30-35% of what they were unmetered. Note, not 30% “less”, but 30-35% of the old bill. i.e. about £30 in every £100 we were paying. That is not the case with electricity, which was and is still based on metered usage, in both cases, and I already had both a monitor on the mains input, and a plug-in meter for individual devices. Yeah, they’re not accurate enough, via inductive coupling, for billing purposes but they give a pretty good guide. So …. I’d already done all the “how much is it using” stuff they spout for smart meters, years before.
Anyway, back on point … that letter campaign I suffered? It was about 10 years ago. Eon doing this sort of thing is nothing new, it’s a ratty old mutt up to exactly the same antics it’s been doing for years. They’ve just become slightly less nuanced with the inference that it’s about “safety” and that you “must” change.
After about 6 letters in 18 months, as I said, I lost my temper. On the phone, I complained, politely but very firmly, and told them explicitly to stop pestering me with letters. Until such time as the law changes (which it hasn’t yet) and they can force a smart meter, with or without my agreement, it is NOT going to happen here. They added me to a list “but it’ll reset in 2 years so you might get another letter”. My response to that was “Oh, hell no, that’s not acceptable. You’ve been told, emphatically, to stop pestering me and if I get more letters, my next step will be to consult my solicitor about a formal harrassment complaint, through the courts if need be.”
Then I pulled a really dirty card. “You do realise I’m a journalist, don’t you?” Which was true. “I’m freelance …. but that means I know a lot of editors, from both national print and TV. I wonder if I could interest them in this as a story?”
I got added to a “do not pester” list, and NOT for just two years. What actually did the trick, the solicitor thing or the “journalist” thing, or neither, I dunno, but it put paid to the letters. Until about two weeks ago. It wasn’t an “unsafe” letter, though. But guess who’ll be on the phone again this afternoon? 😀