Ofgem confirms: British Gas is Misleading customers on Smart Meters

Stop Smart Meters! (UK)

UK energy regulator Ofgem has today confirmed that British Gas is misleading customers on Smart Meters.

Following an initial complaint to Ofgem by SSM supporter Chris Jones, and his relentless pressure over two months for a response, Ofgem replied today:

Ofgem’s response to Chris Jones’s complaint – confirms British Gas is misleading customers on Smart Meters.

We have reviewed the Customer Charter and consider that some consumers may find it misleading. We intend to discuss this with British Gas. We will be asking them to seriously consider amendments to their Charter so it more accurately reflects that Smart Meters are not mandatory. At this time we consider this represents the most appropriate course of action. [emphasis added]

Disappointingly, the letter does not venture into answering other important points raised by Mr Jones in his complaint about British Gas’s Charter, namely:

  • The change in people’s rights via new Government rules that will prevent suppliers from removing Smart Meters after they have been installed.
  • The failure to reference any health risks associated with wireless Smart Meters (which are designated as Class 2b carcinogens by the World Health Organisation).
  • Omissions of the prospects of variable tariffs which will vary unit prices.
  • How British Gas will be able to secure highly-sensitive customer data which is broadcast wirelessly – making it vulnerable to hackers.
  • The failure to mention the cost of their Smart Meter programme for customers and how much energy consumers are expected to save – especially customers who are already taking measures to be more frugal with their energy usage.
  • An over-simplification of the supposed benefits of Smart Meters and a failure to mention the need for customers to intensively monitor consumption if variable tariff schemes are used.
  • Failure to mention what options customers have if they do not want a Smart Meter.
  • Failure to mention that customers will not be able to have Smart Meters removed after the end of this year by a supplier.
  • Failure to admit that Smart Meters will allow energy suppliers to remotely cut-off supplies for revenue protection (something admitted to by the Minister).
  • The potential for customers to be forced into having an interruptable tariff or having to pay more for an uninterruptable tariff.
  • Failure to mention that consumer’s energy consumption data will be held centrally – something which could potentially be misused in future, e.g. as a basis for taxation (such as carbon taxation).
  • Misleading reassurances that British Gas “will not sell your energy data” when they will not even be in control of centrally-held data.

In spite of these omissions, which Mr Jones will almost certainly continue pressing for answers to, the admission has been welcomed by Stop Smart Meters! (UK), whose campaign has been tirelessly badmouthed by senior British Gas executives. Until leaving British Gas this summer, former Managing Director, Philip Bentley, went to great lengths to condescend people signing our Notice of Non-Consent for Smart Meter installation with the following message:

You are being badly misled by the Stop Smart Meters website. Most of what they say is misleading at best and completely untrue at worst.

Stuart Rolland, the current MD of British Gas’s Smart Metering team, continues to do the same:

I’m afraid that I don’t agree with the content of the Stop Smart Meters email or their website, and I feel that they are misrepresenting the facts and causing unnecessary concern.

Despite repeated attempts by our members and supporters to gain clarity on exactly where the Stop Smart Meters! campaign is “misleading” people, British Gas have failed to provide any further information in support of their baseless claims. In fact, Rolland goes on to brag:

We recently installed our millionth smart meter.

With the misinformation being promoted by British Gas in its Customer Charter, it is little wonder they have duped so many of their customers into accepting Smart Meters – their misinfo is supplemented by high-budget marketing campaigns and despotic customer services tactics which dictate that “you WILL have a Smart Meter”.

With this ruling from Ofgem, it is clear that British Gas cannot be trusted with informing the public on this controversial issue. Exercise your rights and refuse their Smart Meters.

This kind of activism and sharing of important information is in the cross-hairs of David Cameron’s attack on “esoteric websites”. If you value our campaign and thousands of others like it which seek to give people the other side of the story, please add your name to Jaime Tanna’s petition to expose and STOP the unnecessary censorship of “esoteric” websites and forums – we have one week to go.

The worst thing about censorship is [XXXXXXXX] [XXXX] [XX] [XXXXXXXX] [XXXX] [XX] [X] [XXXXXXXX].

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