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Eon under fire over smart meter bullying

03 Oct 17
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E-on has agreed to change the information it sends customers after our investigation

E-on has agreed to change the information it sends customers after our investigation

Eon is changing the information it sends to customers about smart meters after Money Mail reported the firm to the energy watchdog.

Last week, we revealed most of the big energy companies are using high-pressure tactics to push customers into getting this new type of meter, which uses wireless signals to tell the supplier how much energy you use.

We have since been inundated with letters from readers who say they have felt bullied by their supplier into getting a smart meter. 

The complaints about Eon were so concerning that Money Mail has asked the energy regulator Ofgem to investigate.

Since then, Eon has agreed to review its communications to ensure it is made clearer to customers that smart meters are not compulsory.

We discovered that Eon has been telling some customers they must switch to a smart meter or face severe bill hikes.

In one letter, the firm says: ‘To stay on a tariff with cheaper off-peak rates you need a different meter, and we’ll install a smart meter for free.’

Maureen Marks, 78, a retired cooker demonstrator from Staffordshire, says: ‘I was told my bills would rise by £911 unless I had a new meter. I was disgusted by the letter.’

Eon admitted that, despite the wording of its letters, these customers do not have to agree to a smart meter to stay on the same deal. They can have their meter replaced with another traditional one instead.

In another letter, Eon suggests that installing a smart meter is a legal and safety requirement. At the top of the letter in bold, red lettering, it says: ‘We have a legal requirement to change your meter. Please call us.’

It continues: ‘It’s a legal requirement and we want to keep you safe. When we replace it, we’re going to give you a free self-reading meter.’

Michael Coote, 74, a retired electrical engineer from Norfolk, says he received one of these letters in August, even though his ten-year-old meter was replaced four months earlier. 

Michael says: ‘The letter was frightening and bullying. I’d already made it clear to them that I didn’t want a smart meter.’

It follows Eon’s announcement last month that it would replace its standard tariffs with rolling deals that cost up to £262 a year less — but only if customers get a smart meter.

These new-style meters store your readings and send them to your provider so you don’t have to ring them in. 

They also show how much power you are using in pounds and pence on a screen, to help you cut usage. The Government has told suppliers they must offer all households a smart meter by 2020, but households can refuse.

An Eon spokesman says: ‘As well as writing to customers about smart meters, we’re also obliged to contact them when their meters need exchanging, for example for safety reasons. 

However, smart meters are not compulsory and we’re reviewing our communications to ensure this is made clearer in the future.’

A spokeswoman for Ofgem says: ‘Suppliers must treat customers fairly, including in how they communicate with them over smart meters. It is not compulsory to have a smart meter installed — consumers have a right to decline them.’

l.milner@dailymail.co.uk

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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