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Supplier of last resort – you’re not wrong, there


There we were, reasonably happy with the People’s Energy supplying our electricity and gas supplies, at least from a tariff perspective, when they went out of business in September.  Our account was transferred, under the “Supplier of Last Resort” scheme, to British Gas.
I’m on the Priority Service Register (PSR), as I am disabled and we have no way of accessing the gas meter, and nobody whom we can ask.  I had requested the meter be read for over a year and was fobbed off with the excuse that because of Covid restrictions the meter could not be read.  Strange, as the meter is external to the house so there would have been no need to enter the house to read the gas meter, and the electricity readings were being sent via smart meter.
The gas meter, which I was told was not connected to the smart meter as it was incompatible, according to an email I had received from People’s Energy on 10th August 2021 that someone was going to be reading the meter “within 3 months” – then they went out of business…
So, today (29th March 2022) I decided to grasp the nettle and contact British Gas to ensure that the gas meter reading was known before the increase in prices on 1st April. 
First port of call was the app – I could log into that, and noticed a weird credit entry but no explanation what it was for, and no way of getting help, so I then tried their website.  Tried logging in, but the Captcha just cycled, so couldn’t log in.  “OK”, I thought, “Let’s try the chat”, which I did.  Try, that is.  Clicked on the “Contact Us” link on the BG website – no chat link!  By now, my blood pressure was at (I estimate) a nice 200/120 level.  So, I called the helpline and eventually, after being in a queue for 30+ minutes, got to speak to a helpdesk operator with a South African accent (this will be more significant in a minute) who said that there was a problem with logging in through the app – I explained I had no problem logging in through the app, it was the website that I had problems with.  She was not aware of that…
I explained that I had not had a meter reading for over a year, but that the meter was connected electronically (I have an email  from British Gas confirming that) and she explained that it was incompatible with the BG system.
We discussed the problem and my requirement to have the gas meter read – she went away and came back to the call, having spoken with the PSR, to inform me that they couldn’t arrange for anyone to come and read the meter as it was connected to the Smart Meter system.  Astonishing!  So, my gas meter is not compatible with the Smart meter system, but because it was part of the system I couldn’t get someone to come out and read the meter.  She said she would put me over to the technical team to see what could be done.  Not much, it transpires.
After getting through to the tech team, another woman with a South African accent (so, looks like the helpdesk is somewhere in South Africa?  So much for BRITISH Gas…), she confirmed that because I had a Smart meter, they couldn’t send someone out to me, but as the gas was not registering with the system they could arrange for someone to come out and fix it, and would I like her to arrange that?  I suppressed the urge to say “ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING?!”?!” and said yes.
Then she said this could be arranged, PROBABLY, by December.  I asked what about the current gas readings – the next billing cycle is May – she said that because there were no readings they couldn’t bill me for the gas.
I decided to struggle out and read the gas meter myself and send the readings manually.  So, out to the front garden I went, opened the meter cupboard and tried to read the meter.  There were no numbers showing on the LCD panel.  I pressed a couple of buttons to see if it was in sleep mode – nope.  That might explain the lack of readings being obtained…
They arranged for the meter to be replaced.  To be fair, the replacement was made the very next day, but what was interesting was that the meter readings for the electricity supply did not show that I had a dual tariff, and to reprogram the meter would mean manual readings (so what was the point of the Smart meter…?) – I decided that as we used very little electricity overnight, we’d stick with the single tariff. 

I dread to think what the bill will be…