British gas customers who report faulty smart meter 'risk £175 penalty' if no fault found

A British Gas smart meter (Getty Images)
A British Gas smart meter (Getty Images)

British Gas customers who mistakenly report their smart meter is faulty could be at risk of a penalty charge, according to reports.

Customers who call out an engineer after fears that they are overpaying could find themselves slapped with a £175 fee.

The meter will be replaced free of charge if a fault is discovered.

However, they could be charged if the meter is found to be functioning correctly, according to the Telegraph.

Last year 37 per cent of smart meter customers, surveyed by Smart Energy GB, reported issues with their meters.

The National Audit Office said problems included a failure to submit automatic readings, inaccurate bills and non-functioning displays.

Lady Irvine, 89, who lives in Morpeth, Northumberland, told the Telegraph that when she discovered her energy costs were “far higher” than those of friends and neighbours she began to question her smart meter.

She said: “I called British Gas and they said I could take a meter reading each month.

“My meter is outside on an outside wall and it is outside the level or my perifocal so I would have had to sit on a stall outside with a magnifying glass.”

In December last year she asked for a visit from an engineer to check the meter was working correctly but was told the cost would be £175 if the meter was working correctly so instead she moved providers.

She added: “It is an inequitable charge. A tremendous number of people who are old wouldn’t feel right taking the step to complain.”

Broken smart meters do not provide consumers with an accurate reflection of how much energy they have used and can lead to incorrect charges appearing on plug-in displays.

Octopus Energy, the third largest energy provider in the country, charges customers £80 if they are called out to check a meter and no issues are found.

The supplier said the charge is not automatic and decided after taking into account the customer’s circumstances.

Scottish Power and Ovo households face no charge at all when they request a smart meter inspection, regardless of whether or not fault is found.