Thousands of customers of SSE customers woke up on 1 April to smart meter readings indicating they owed more than £40,000 for a day’s worth of energy.
The readings weren’t an April’s Fool Day joke but rather a technical glitch for which SSE apologised.
Customers took to social media to express their disbelief at the mind-boggling readings on their smart meter’s in-home displays (IHDs) and Smart Energy Trackers. The readings varied but were all around £40,000.
Dr Theresa Eynon, a Labour councillor, said: “My son’s smart meter says he owes £42k in energy bills today. It seems he is not alone. If this is an April Fool hack please sack the perpetrator immediately. Frightening people is not funny.”
SSE denied that the readings were a prank. A spokesperson for SSE Energy Services said: “We’re aware of a fault on some of our Smart Energy Trackers and In-Home Displays that’s causing them to show incorrect costs. This impacts the display only, not the actual meter readings.
“We’re working hard to resolve this issue as soon as possible. Customers do not need to do anything at this time and we apologise for any concern.”
However, SSE customers did see their costs rise on 1 April, albeit by a much smaller amount. Like nearly all large energy suppliers, SSE hiked prices on its standard variable tariffs by £96 in line with the new level of the energy price cap.
Energy regulator Ofgem increased the price cap to £1,138 in response to soaring wholesale gas and electricity prices. The cap limits how much energy suppliers can charge customers on default tariffs but customers can find cheaper prices by shopping around for a fixed tariff.
Like all suppliers, SSE is installing next-generation gas and electricity meters in customers’ homes. Smart meters automatically relay readings to the customer’s energy supplier, eliminating the need for manual meter readings, by customers or employees of the supplier, and for estimated bills.
Smart meters display customer’s energy usage in kilowatt-hours and pounds and pence, on both the meter itself and on in-home displays and apps. It was these in-home displays that displayed incorrect readings to SSE customers last week.
Smart meters are intended to give customers more information about their energy usage so they can make changes to reduce their consumption and thus their bills and carbon footprints.
All homes and small businesses should be offered smart meters by their supplier by 30 June 2025.
SSE has previously missed targets for installing the meters. It previously paid £700,000 into a voluntary redress fund for missing its 2018 target. New owner OVO picked up the £1.2 million tab for SSE’s failure to meet its 2019 target.
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