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Smart meter users could be moved to ‘pay-as-you-go’ if they cancel direct debits

August 12, 2022

By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness


Just another reminder of how smart meters will control our energy use:





Households with smart meters could find themselves moved onto prepayment plans without their consent if they refuse to pay their energy bills.

A growing movement to shun rising energy bills in the autumn has gathered momentum, however, participants could find themselves forced to pay for energy up front within weeks.

Don’t Pay UK, a campaign group, has urged households to stop paying energy bills from Oct 1. More than 100,000 people have “pledged” to withhold payment. Households traditionally pay for energy in arrears, settling bills via direct debit or on a monthly or quarterly basis.

However, energy companies can switch smart meter users to prepayment with minimal notice and not have to enter a home.

More than half of all meters are either smart or advanced, according to the most recent Government statistics. Roughly 14 million households could therefore have meters changed remotely.

Providers have historically had to obtain a warrant to enter households and replace a meter with a prepayment alternative – where customers must add credit to their account before being allowed to use gas and electricity.

This is a significantly longer and more expensive process, but 61,000 warrants were still issued last year despite these obstacles, a Freedom of Information request has shown.

The need for a warrant does not apply when suppliers are switching smart meters to prepayment mode remotely. However, Ofgem, the energy regulator, has said suppliers must give customers four weeks to settle debts, and a further week’s notice before switching.

  1. August 12, 2022 4:24 pm

    I’ve been advising people for years not to install a smart meter.

    • HotScot permalink
      August 12, 2022 4:43 pm

      It was Paul and probably co-conspirators like you who wised me up to smart metres. Thank goodness ‘conspiracy theorists’ abound.

    • August 12, 2022 5:41 pm

      So have I. These things are a delight for those wishing to control our very lives in detail. Hackers will also love them.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 12, 2022 8:12 pm

        An example of what hackers can do….written by a hacker.

      • Duker permalink
        August 13, 2022 9:32 am

        hackers ? Its a one way device unless you have the type which can supposedly control individual appliances ( and why would you), they only send a string of numbers out , not inwards. From the types Ive heard about the other option is to cut off power completely remotely when bills arent paid

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 13, 2022 4:27 pm

        To Duker, do you have any experience at all of how hacking actually works? If they can be remotely disconnected they are not “one way” are they?

  2. johnbillscott permalink
    August 12, 2022 4:27 pm

    Remember when the coin operated gas and electric meters was under the stairs of houses and electric meters on the bedroom walls of B&B – fast forward to the past.

    • DaveR permalink
      August 13, 2022 9:17 pm

      Lower Methil 1940s you had to file hapnes to fit the meter, afor it was dished out wi lassies on street corners filing.

  3. HotScot permalink
    August 12, 2022 4:34 pm

    I refused smart metres and signed up to Don’t Pay a few weeks ago.

    Sadly, far too many gullible people thought a pretty little electronic gizmo that shows what happens when they switch their kettle on was the main attraction.

    I also refused masks, social distancing, vaccinations and would have refused to lock down other than everyone else was scared to open their front doors. I also spent almost 6 months in a general hospital during the ‘worst’ of the covid crisis, the most infectious place in the world apparently, but didn’t see anyone with it and didn’t hear of anyone with it.

    I have had three colds during this period and I can’t quite figure out how those got to me before covid did.

    Along with my climate scepticism I’m classed as a lunatic conspiracy theorist by certain members of my family.

    Oh! I also like Trump which just make matters worse……..

    • August 12, 2022 4:53 pm

      Yes, you just get a little gizmo which you can buy online anyway for a few pounds. I had one five years ago and decided they were a waste of time. But in return for a smart meter you put yourself at the mercy of power companies and the govt for whenever power needs to be rationed

    • catweazle666 permalink
      August 12, 2022 5:55 pm

      “a pretty little electronic gizmo that shows what happens when they switch their kettle on was the main attraction.”

      Like this?
      We got ours from the charity shop for £2.50.
      Spent about half an hour running about switching things on and off which told us nothing we didn’t know already.
      Then the batteries went flat, and that was that.

      • I don't believe it! permalink
        August 12, 2022 11:35 pm

        You could use rechargeable batteries.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        August 13, 2022 3:08 pm

        I could.
        But why would I bother?

  4. August 12, 2022 4:51 pm

    i refused a smart meter and opted to continue paying by cheque which attracts a small surcharge. i didn’t want my energy direct debit to be suddenly raised on the whim of the energy co. After hearing that some people have had their DD increased by 150% I am glad I retained some sort of control , albeit the increase still has to be paid, at least I won’t suddenly find several hundred pounds removed from my account

    • Simon permalink
      August 13, 2022 8:54 am

      Exactly how I operate .I refuse any Direct Debits as I had issues a few years ago with Southern raising the amount with no notice .Its my money in my account and I will control it not some German owned power company .

  5. marlene permalink
    August 12, 2022 4:56 pm

    Smart meters, Smart Cities, etc. – whenever liberals used the word “Smart” they mean either the opposite or it’s gonna smart (hurt).

  6. sid permalink
    August 12, 2022 5:02 pm

    Not mine, they cannot get it to “talk” to then so I have to email a reading every month

    • HotScot permalink
      August 12, 2022 10:36 pm

      I email them nothing. I force them to come round and read my meter!

      • John Hultquist permalink
        August 13, 2022 5:20 am

        (in Washington State) Our provider installed meters that send a signal that can be read by equipment in an airplane. I suspect at some point that will be done with a drone. The technology works well and saves time and miles traveled on rural roads. Many of us have long lanes and meters that are on the back side of buildings. Winter can be harsh. The meter isn’t smart, but the concept is.

      • Duker permalink
        August 13, 2022 9:22 am

        Plane ?
        Isnt it just SMS technology as used by cell phone providers, they have a sim card in the meter which just sends a string of numbers -CSV format in the middle of the night

      • John Hultquist permalink
        August 13, 2022 7:42 pm

        for Duker,
        The rural area here has spotty coverage, so the Utility went with the plane. A better tower-served area could have the SMS technology. One of these days I will try to find out if other places have gone that direction.
        My provider would, again, have to replace all the relatively new meters.

  7. GeoffB permalink
    August 12, 2022 5:15 pm

    I suppose the electric one has a contactor in the measuring unit, that can be switched off remotely, if you are not in credit then no power, bit risky if you are reliant on some medical device and of course your gas boiler will not switch on, so freeze to death. How do they switch the gas off? In this day of elf and saft, there is a chance of explosive mixture, but I suppose the old coin in the slot meters accomplished this without too many bombs. All this because the ecoloons have demonised fossil fuels. I suppose some good will come out of this, if only the satisfaction of us deniers saying “I told you it would not work”

  8. Susan permalink
    August 12, 2022 5:17 pm

    How long before meters will be replaced with a piece of pipe or copper bars…

    • catweazle666 permalink
      August 12, 2022 5:56 pm

      Ah, the old ways are the best ways!

  9. Realist permalink
    August 12, 2022 6:10 pm

    Direct debits for anything are bad anyway. Unknown dates, unknown amounts. Theoretically you can get refunds, but what if those direct debits caused some other payment to be refused due to “insufficient funds”? Much better to use standing orders for automated payments.

    • I don't believe it! permalink
      August 12, 2022 11:40 pm

      Not so!
      You have to be informed of the amount of the direct debit and when it is going to be taken!!!!!

      • Realist permalink
        August 13, 2022 11:31 am

        They might well “inform” you, but direct debits are almost never the same date and the amounts change without notice.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        August 13, 2022 8:25 pm

        My supplier always does that.

  10. August 12, 2022 6:52 pm

    Finally, a useful feature of Smart Meters has been identified.

  11. Dave Ward permalink
    August 12, 2022 6:52 pm

    Time to start fabricating a Faraday Cage…

  12. Ben Vorlich permalink
    August 12, 2022 7:39 pm

    Growing consensus on 100% renewables
    An international group of researchers from 15 universities has said that there is growing consensus among scientists that an energy system based on 100% renewables could be achieved cost effectively by 2050

    Just in time for my 100th birthday

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      August 12, 2022 8:14 pm

      Consensus is not science, it’s politics,

    • catweazle666 permalink
      August 12, 2022 11:01 pm

      “An international group of researchers from 15 universities…”
      And not a single engineer amongst them, I’ll bet!

    • Mad Mike permalink
      August 13, 2022 10:48 am

      Can’t provide a link or name details etc. but about a year ago I was reading an article and saw a quote from a senior engineer in the electricity industry who said it was impossible to have more than 30% renewables in your system without having big problems.

      How they come up with 100% I don’t know but they are experts after all………….or are they?

    • John Hultquist permalink
      August 13, 2022 7:46 pm

      “an energy system based on 100% renewables ”

      – Maybe they meant to say electrical system ?
      – What can’t happen — won’t.

  13. Adam Gallon permalink
    August 12, 2022 9:27 pm

    Dr North’s suggestion seems good.

    “Reference your decision to increase my direct debit payments from £170 monthly to £316, I am writing to inform you that I can no longer guarantee that there will be sufficient funds in my bank account to meet your payment calls. Therefore, continuation of the direct debit arrangement presents a risk of an inadvertent default, with all the administrative complications that can ensue.

    Accordingly, I am letting you know that I wish to discontinue the direct debit arrangement with immediate effect, and revert to monthly billing on a costs incurred basis, which, funds permitting, I propose to pay on line. I would thus be obliged if you could cancel my direct debit and cease to draw directly on my account.

    I appreciate that your volume of correspondence might be high at this time, but I must ask you to put in effect this cancellation before the bill of 4 September becomes due.

    You will appreciate that I must take measures to protect the integrity of my bank account and cannot accept a situation where your cash call might deprive me of the means of making equally pressing payments. I must reserve the right to retain control of my own bank account.

    I would advise you therefore, that if I have not heard from you by 31 August, with an affirmation that you have cancelled my direct debit, I will unilaterally cancel the same and seek to pay by the other means specified.”

    Readers will note that I also am careful to indicate that I am not intending to withhold payment, but reverting back to making payments manually leaves that option open. It affords greater flexibility of response and reduces risk

    • HotScot permalink
      August 12, 2022 10:38 pm

      Outstanding letter. I may well use that.

    • Realist permalink
      August 13, 2022 6:28 am

      Excellent letter, but I would start with the bank and revoke the direct debit authorisation. Another thing to remember is that direct debits on savings accounts get automatically refused by your bank.
      The real danger with direct debits is that ANY amount (subject to it not causing your overdraft limit to be exceeded or causing your current account to have a negative balance if you don’t have an overdraft facility) can be taken at ANY time. I avoid them like the plague. Either standing order or wait for an actual invoice.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        August 13, 2022 10:35 am

        I disagree – contact the supplier first as Richard has done and then you will be seen as being entirely reasonable about it while retaining the power of deleting your direct debit mandate.

        The other suggestion from Richard is to apply for debt plan which requires the freezing of your account while an agreement is made. Lots of these will keep the suppliers very busy as would a request to receive paper bills.

  14. August 13, 2022 2:29 am

    Gizmo never been used but we had to have smart meter as ours was faulty. I do my billing online, they try to increase payments and I put them back down again. I don’t build up credit

  15. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 13, 2022 7:59 am

    Well the UK failed to reach 35C again yesterday, Friday, so now the BBC’s expectation of 35C five days in a row is down to at most two, assuming Monday starts the great cool off as forecast.

    I’ve remarked on Katesbridge before for the extraordinary number of times it posts the lowest min. 5.6C Thursday night, down to the unique natural setting apparently, and often massively cooler than places very near by.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 13, 2022 10:37 am

      I will see what happens on Monday as to whether to stop the datalogger and download the data. Certainly nice and cool last night.

  16. August 13, 2022 8:48 am

    No smart meter in this house. Nor will there ever be.

  17. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 13, 2022 9:41 am

    It’s no coincidence that the alternative meaning of ‘smart’ is pain!
    In my youth I recall one of the comics ran the gag, ‘this cream makes my arm smart’ with the retort ‘you should try rubbing some on your head’.

  18. August 13, 2022 10:20 am

    Smart meter users could be moved to ‘pay-as-you-go’ if they cancel direct debits

    Either they get their money one way or another, or the customer defaults, in which case the the automatic supply is denied by forcing use of prepayment and they still want their money owed. In the end there isn’t much else.

  19. It doesn't add up... permalink
    August 13, 2022 12:03 pm

    I suppose they will pretend they aren’t actually cutting people off, although I expect we will see power cuts anyway. I imagine there may be some delay in organising the PPM accounts which may give a supply interruption. They could have tried simply disconnection instead.

    • August 13, 2022 1:30 pm

      There are legal restrictions on disconnection.

  20. cookers52 permalink
    August 13, 2022 12:26 pm

    As my old dad used to say, “if one half of the country knew how the other half lived, they wouldn’t pay their bills either “.

  21. August 14, 2022 8:22 pm

    Well, just rip the bloody thing out if you were stupid enough to have one.

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