We built a new home and moved in in February 2011. My builder was advised that a Smart Meter was the way to go and that the power company would be able to remotely read my meter. As we already have another home and business on the property and use Mercury Energy as our provider I contacted them in February to add this new meter to our account.
We pay our Mercury account by direct debit I often don't bother to open the bills when the arrive so I was not immediately aware that the new meter was not providing readings until about June. I called them and provided a reading and in July got a huge power bill.
I called Mercury Energy and negotiated 3 month time payment plan for this $3,500 bill and arranged for a serviceman to visit and confirm that the meter was functioning correctly and verify the reading that I had provided. At this point it was mentioned that the Smart Meter required cellular coverage to function and as we live in a poor coverage area this is going to be an ongoing issue.
I continued to provide meter readings each month and ensured that the payments we made as per our arrangement. Mercury Energy require a verification of the readings we are providing every six months so I called and requested a meter reading for 17 October as someone needs to be at home to let the meter reader in.
We are unwilling to provide the meter reader with a key and the alarm codes for the home (who would). The meeter reader failed to turn up on 17 October so I called and arrange a second appointment for 20 October. He was a no show again this time.
I called Mercury Energy again and was advised that because we have a Smart Meter no visit is needed as they can be done remotely. They cheerfully advised that they had recorded zero usage on their system.
I pointed out that the Smart Meter was not providing remote readings (and has never done so) and provided a reading myself. We have used over 20,000 units since February.
I request that they waive the requirement to have a meter reader validate my reading each six months as clearly they are unable to do this. Mercury Energy are unwilling to do this and actually all communications on this matter seem to have the air of credit control about them and the implied threat of messing up my credit if I fail to cooperate.
I suggested that Mercury Energy could change the Smart Meter for one of the old ones or move the Smart Meter to an exterior wall of the home but they are unwilling to pay for this work and again implied that I was being difficult.
We live in a rural area and I am unwilling to provide the meter reader with access to my home while I am out as an alarm activation, security call out or property loss due to failing to secure the property following a visit, would be at my expense.
Clearly Mercury Energy and the network company has no process for preventing a Smart Meter form being specified in an area of poor cellular coverage.
The power companies are moving all existing customers over to these Smart Meters so over time more customers are going to find themselves in my position.
This is effectively a monopoly business so there is a poor alignment of interests here, they will make dumb decisions and then make it the customer live with the consequences of the change.
Why have the power companies not invested in alternative remote meter reading solutions that do not rely on cellular coverage? We do have a telephone line and a broadband connection so there are option that can be considered.
Lastly, why can't I email them a picture from my phone instead of requiring a physical visit from a meter reader? I understand this is what the servicemen do following an meter installation.