Scottish Power claim ‘no fault’ with electricity meter that charges £50 a day

Energy giants Scottish Power are insisting that there is no fault with a meter that is swallowing up to £50-a-day for a two-bedroom house, leaving a disabled mother to rely on foodbanks for support.

By Kirsty Paterson
Monday, 17th January 2022, 4:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 12:01 pm
Mary Quinn

Mum-of-two Mary Quinn – who has been spending between £35 and £50 on electricity every single day this winter – has spoken about the nightmare situation she has been living in.

The local council have insisted the faulty heating system will be replaced later this year, but until then Mary is left struggling to afford the cost of heating in winter, and has been forced to rely on foodbanks and support from her family, who are concerned about her mental health.

And now she has been told by an independent meter reader that the equipment was faulty.

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Fuel Poverty protesters in Falkirk last month

The meter reader, who works for a data company that collects information for lots of companies, visited her home earlier this month.

He told Mary that he believed her meter was faulty as he could not put the correct ‘codes’ in that were needed to give an accurate reading, adding that “the rate we are being asked to read doesn’t exist”.

He went on to say that lots of other people with that type of meter were having various problems and said that he had reported this several times but no action had ever been taken.

Scottish Power has firmly denied that what he said to Ms Quinn was correct, and apologised for the confusion.

A spokesperson said: “We’re sorry for the confusion caused to Ms Quinn following the visit of a meter reader.

“The meter in Ms Quinn’s property is correct, the meter reader misidentified Ms Quinn’s meter type with a different type of meter not in her property and the meter reader is not in a position to discuss customer tariffs and any ongoing consumption queries Ms Quinn has.

“We have spoken to Ms Quinn to apologise and are sending round a Customer Liaison Officer to Ms Quinn’s property early next week to speak to her about the situation, talk to her about her meter and to apologise to her in person for the confusion.”

The power company insists that the massive energy bills that Mary – and other council tenants – are paying is due to the cost of running the Thermaflow heating system which was installed by Falkirk Council in more than 700 homes 10 years ago.

However, several other people with the same type of heating system – and the same prepayment meters – say they have also had problems with the meters which are swallowing hundreds of pounds a month.

In particular, several residents have said that whenever there is a power cut the meters will go blank – sometimes for many months at a time.

Amanda, whose meter has now been blank for two weeks, says the blank meter is just adding to the stress she is already under, with electricity that has been costing around £120 every week in the winter months.

She said: “I have no idea what kind of bill I’m going to be hit with.

“We’re not getting free electricity – we’re going to have to pay for it eventually but we have no idea what we have actually used.”

Amanda, who is disabled and also has a disabled son, says the cost of the electricity is leaving her penniless.

“Many a week I’ve had to ask my elderly parents, who are on a pension, for money to put the meter and I’m so grateful to them – but it’s embarrassing.

“My kids are really good and they understand when they can’t get things but it makes me feel like a failure as a parent – I have to say ‘sorry, that money has to go in the meter’.

“When you phone Scottish Power, they’re just not interested – they don’t seem to care about their customers at all, they only care about their profits.”

Another Slamannan resident says her meter has been blank for nearly 18 months.

Now, she’s extremely anxious that she will be hit with a massive bill for thousands of pounds by the time the problem is sorted out.

“I was paying up to £80 a week for electricity, which is a huge amount when you are disabled and living on benefits.

“I have put money aside but it’s worry – how much is any bill going to be?

“Scottish Power have done literally nothing – it’s like I’ve been forgotten.

“I know I’ll be getting charged eventually but I’m not the only one this is happening to and we have been left in limbo.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Power said: “The meters are not faulty, they are recording correctly. The last of these meters to be produced was in 2014 and the displays are estimated to have a battery life of between 10 to 15 years.

“Some of the meters installed at properties were manufactured earlier than 2014 and their batteries are now beginning to come to the end of their lives which can result in the display going either permanently or temporarily.

“Whilst the display may not always be showing, the meter continues to provide supply to the properties and is still recording their usage accurately.

“Once Falkirk Council has made a decision on how it will replace the inefficient heating systems it installed in these properties the meters will also be replaced.”

A Falkirk Council report stated: “Funding was approved as part of last year’s Housing Investment Programme to provide more cost effective and efficient heating systems for tenants within off-gas areas.

“A decision was made by Council on September 29 2021 to progress with the installation of a gas infrastructure.

“The work is planned to commence during 2022/23, with completion expected in 2023/24.

“Additionally, for areas where gas supply is not viable, alternative heating solutions, including renewable technology measures such as Air Source Heat Pumps are being considered.”