Utilita’s creepy smart meter move!

Imagine your energy company can sneak your house, without your immediate knowledge, discreetly rearrange something very personal, then leave without saying a word. Welcome to the world of the “smart meter”!

I wrote here nine days ago about energy company Utilita’s heavy handed approach in resisting my request that they uninstall their smart meter that’s measuring my new flat’s electricity supply.

Well, the first flicker of movement has taken place since I subsequently sent them a very full email asking for the meter’s removal and replacement with a “dry” analogue model.

Covering key arguments I’d included in the previous Digital Survivor article, I added that electricity through the smart meter is already working out more expensive than it did at my last flat; despite the current “smart” equipment being set to pay-as-you-go (PAYG) and the analogue meter at my old place being a PAYG model from Scottish Gas. Oh, and my new place boasts fewer rooms.

So what’s the creepy bit?

The creepy part? Well, without having responded yet to my email, indeed with no contact at all, Utilita just added somewhere around £5 of credit onto my smart PAYG meter. How ****ing creepy is that? It had read £24.81 a couple of days ago but then this morning when I checked came in at over £28.

Are they trying to counter my argument about how expensive their smart PAYG actually is by reimbursing some of their charges? Well, maybe.

But my guess is that Utilita had originally tried to sneak costs for electricity usage onto my account that were actually accrued across a time just before I moved in when the property was vacant. This certainly chimes with a separate paper bill I received recently for gas – which is safely on a “dry” analogue meter – that was for prior usage and addressed (somewhat bizarrely) to my landlord (the local authority) via my home.

Either way, this development provides one illustration of just how creepy remote, centralised control of household energy metering really is even on a mundane level.

Potentially much more to come

This approaching week will likely see a response from Utilita to the email I sent last week. My missive was fully loaded – to the point that I felt it only fair to suggest the company consult their own lawyers. (I am a nice man.)

But if they fanny about and continue to refuse my request for an analogue meter, I will make good on what legal threats my email contained – and then some more. For there are further salvoes available – including opening up Lex Mercatoria further and instigating even more serious proceedings – that could blow this whole issue wide open.

Maybe Utilita needs to consult its PR people at least as much as its company lawyers. Hopefully they’ll see reason and put their head back below (albeit barely) the parapet.

Watch this space.