News | World News | DAN HYDE: There's no sense in a smart meter rush

DAN HYDE: There's no sense in a smart meter rush

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By Dan Hyde for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:34 EDT, 15 May 2018 | Updated: 04:16 EDT, 16 May 2018

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Big energy suppliers are acting like naughty children whose parents have failed to set clear boundaries.

Money Mail's Stop The Smart Meter Bullying campaign has repeatedly warned that customers are being brow-beaten into fitting new smart meters in their homes.

The devices show your usage by the minute and send the readings automatically to suppliers — but many of you tell me you don't want them and feel huge pressure to sign up, even though they're optional.

We raised the alarm by sending a dossier of evidence to Ofgem. Yesterday, the watchdog had a golden chance to lay down some ground rules to end the bully-boy tactics — but it failed miserably.

Some homeowners love the idea of smart meters. But many thousands absolutely hate them, and will keep resisting as long as they're optional
Some homeowners love the idea of smart meters. But many thousands absolutely hate them, and will keep resisting as long as they're optional

Some homeowners love the idea of smart meters. But many thousands absolutely hate them, and will keep resisting as long as they're optional

And, as we reveal here, its toothless attempt to tackle the issue could actually make matters worse. 

Rather than slow the blizzard of aggressive mail, Ofgem gave firms the green light to 'ramp up' their efforts by contacting customers who have already refused a meter.

While firms were told not to upset homeowners, Ofgem refuses to outline what this means in practice and where to draw the line.

That's left suppliers in a pickle. The reason they are desperate to get smart meters in every home is the Government's threat of a multi-billion-pound fine if they fail to do so by 2020. 

Currently, they face missing that unrealistic target — and they have no idea how hard they can push to get there. It's a recipe for disaster.

It's time for Energy Minister Claire Perry to let Ofgem off the leash and launch a proper crackdown. 

For starters, firms must be banned from making installation appointments without permission, and barred from contacting customers who ask to be left alone.

Some homeowners love the idea of smart meters. But many thousands absolutely hate them, and will keep resisting as long as they're optional.

Unless Ms Perry plans to write a new law forcing everyone to switch to a smart meter, she should stop trying to rush through such a big change and scrap the ridiculous 2020 deadline.

Ticked off

A man tries his utmost to help a world-famous company eliminate counterfeit goods. It turns out it's a scam and he's been duped out of his £50,600 life savings by some heartless crooks.

The 79-year-old's bank, Santander, refunds him only half the money, admitting it could have done more to stop the extremely out-of-character purchases of Rolex watches.

When Money Mail asks Rolex to help, its response is blunt and brutal: no comment.

You have to feel for poor Henry Peters, whose name we've changed to protect him. He honestly thought he was doing the right thing when he fell for one of the cruellest and most devious confidence tricks we've ever seen.

Should Santander have done more to check what was going on when he bought the first watch? 

Or should we accept the cold hard reality that some people in this country are so twisted that they think this is an acceptable way to make a living — and there's nothing our overstretched police can do about it?

To my mind, Rolex has a case to answer here. None of this is its fault, but its selfish response to Henry's case was a particularly harsh way to treat an old man who believed he was helping the company root out fake goods.

I bet a £25,000 Rolex costs a pittance to make. Even if the company couldn't bring itself to offer Henry a free watch, it could at least send a thank-you card.

What a mean-spirited firm. And what a horrible predicament.

Bills boost

Thank you for your ideas on ways to tackle the rampant ageism at banks, insurers and financial firms. 

Mr T. F. emailed me with a terrific suggestion: why not bring back Prompt Payment Discounts for those who settle quarterly paper bills by cheque or cash?

These were scrapped when the Government told energy firms to reduce the bewilderingly large number of tariffs available.

'The energy giants are no less than scoundrels, robber-barons and horse-thieves,' says Mr T. F. 'This is the decent thing to do, with good PR value to boot. In any case, a decade or two from now their problem will no longer exist.'

It's a great idea and a fair deal if they insist on charging extra to receive and pay bills by post. Insurers and banks should take note.

d.hyde@dailymail.co.uk

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