A PENSIONER was left fuming after claiming to be left with no hot water or heating for a week when her smart meter stopped working.
Margaret Rees, 79, says she was shocked to wake up one morning and find she had no gas supply in her home in Port Talbot, Wallis.
As gevolg daarvan, she claims to have been forced to sleep on the sofa with only an electric fire to keep her warm.
Margaret is largely housebound and uses a Zimmer frame indoors and a wheelchair when she ever ventures outside.
She has a stairlift fitted in her home to take her to and from her bedroom but decided to sleep downstairs the past six days thanks to the cold.
For the past year or so the pensioner has had a smart meter in her home which she tops up to pay for her gas supply.
Margaret usually does this by topping up her card at a nearby shop with the aid of one of her family members.
Egter, her alleged heating issues begun when the smart meter did not top up correctly.
Margaret told Wales Online: “It was Monday morning and I realised I didn’t have any gas.
“They’ve put one of these smart meters in the house but I’ve started having issues with it.
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“I’ve asked if I can switch to paying by direct debit but it’s as if they are forcing you to use these meters and I think they are doing it with a lot of older people.”
Because of her physical condition, the elderly woman has to call a member of her family to come round when there is a problem.
They then call the supplier and get on their hands and knees to be talked through how to correct the problem.
After happening a number of times, Margaret grew increasingly frustrated and asked her supplier, SSE, if she could switch to a credit mode and pay by direct debit.
But according to a message she received from the company this should have been actioned almost a month ago.
The company said: “Hallo, as requested, we’re remotely changing the mode of your Pay As You Go gas meter to credit mode. This will take place on September 18. An engineer does not need to visit your home.”
However since the beginning of the week she has had no gas supply at all and her in-home display tells her she is £7.64 in debt, advising her to “please top up to reconnect your supply”.
Margaret said: “They’ve told me to top the meter up. But I’ve got to go down to the shop with my card to do that and come back and if it doesn’t work I need to call my daughter, my son, or my daughter-in-law to try to sort it.
“But I can’t keep getting someone to come round all the time.”
What to do if you have a smart meter issue
- If your smart meter is not working properly, your supplier should investigate and replace the meter if required.
- Intussen, you should continue to take meter readings in the usual way to track your usage.
- Suppliers should try to get a proper meter reading at least once a year.
- Smart meters can show the wrong energy usage on the display, but still record the correct amount of energy you use with the supplier.
- But it can be frustrating to see the incorrect cost if you use the meter to monitor your energy use.
- It is hard to know if you are being billed incorrectly or if it is simply a price rise.
- If your bill jumps suddenly, it is worth checking with your supplier. Take a look at your consumption and work out if that has gone up.
- Avoid estimated bills at all costs. Give your provider a meter reading every month and take a photo as evidence.
- Suppliers can only bill you for the previous 12 months if the error was its mistake.
- If you are not happy with what your energy firm says, or it does not sort your problem, you can report the firm to the Energy Ombudsman.
- You must have complained to your supplier and given the firm eight weeks to resolve the problem.
- The ombudsman will then take a look at your case and decide whether you are entitled to compensation.
- You must take your case to the ombudsman within 12 months of your supplier telling you of its decision.
For Margaret the biggest concern is living in a property with no central heating in mid-October with winter fast approaching and temperatures dropping.
Sy het gese: “I have no heating, no hot water, niks. They are trying to force me to put money on this meter but I can’t keep having trouble with it.
“It might work to start with but I will have trouble with it again and I can’t really get to the shop all the time to get credit and if I do I can’t bend down to fix the issues I’ve been having with the meter. I just want to be put on a direct debit.
“I have an electric fire and I’m sleeping on the sofa in the lounge. I can’t go upstairs because it’s too cold.”
The pensioner has also been left unable to cook in her home and has needed to rely on the basics to get by over the past week.
“My son brought me round some chips for my dinner yesterday and I have a toaster so I can have a bit of toast.”
Nicola Jenkins, Margaret’s daughter-in-law, admitted that they don’t really know what to do next as the property has already been without gas for several days.
“She pays for her electric by direct debit and she wants to change to direct debit for her gas,” said Nicola.
Sy het bygevoeg: “They agreed to do that but there’s been no gas at all since Monday morning and we’ve been on the phone to the company since then.
“We were told it could take another 28 days to sort out. We’ve spoken to so many different people in so many different departments. One person said it would be back on within the hour, another said they would call us back within 20 minute.
“We have no idea what’s going on. There’s no gas and we’ve been on the phone all the time.”
SSE have been contacted for comment.
It comes as one woman was left horrified when her smart meter said she had used £40,000 worth of power in a day.
Intussen, a British Gas customer complained that a faulty smart meter is charging them thousands of pounds per day for energy.