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ESB Meter Faults Overcharging and Refunds

  • 08-06-2021 4:41pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 7


    People with storage heating and on day/night meters - please check your meter timers and your bills - and share your story in relation to overcharging due to ESB meter faults!

    There are about 350,000 customers on day/night meters in the country and at this time approximately 60,000 - 80,000 of these are faulty. Most of these will have been faulty for up to 20 years or more.

    6 months ago I found out that my meter time switch has been faulty.
    I rent an apartment and have storage heating. I'm on a day/night electricity plan.
    When this was discovered, I realised that I had been overcharged for electricity for over 16 years.
    The ESB don't check the meter timer switch when they read the meters. They only check them if they receive a complaint. I had complained numerous times over the years about high bills that didn't make sense but nothing was done about it. Complaints made to electricity suppliers don't get passed on to the ESB.

    The ESB have acknowledged that the fault is on their part and acknowledge that I have been overcharged for electricity all these years. They have given me a refund for 6 years of overcharging - in the region of €2,000. The full amount of refund owed to me is greater than €6,000.

    (Note: The customer experience of getting to the stage of receiving this partial refund has been excruciating. I was repeatedly ignored and I had to submit FOI requests to get the information needed to properly calculate the refund. Under the ESB procedure, the ESB first calculated that I owed them money, then said that they owed me €84, then eventually admitted that the meter time switch was never working properly and that I was overcharged for the whole time I have lived here).

    The ESB procedure (which they are illegally refusing to provide a copy of) is to limit all claims for overcharging to 6 years, claiming that the statute of limitations prevents them from refunding for periods of overcharging longer than this.
    This is completely illegal and wrong and the issue has been referred to the energy regulator - the CRU.

    I would like to ask people to share their stories in relation to having similar problems -

    1) Do you have storage heating and are your bills extremely high? If so, it is most likely due to a fault with the time switch on your electricity meter.

    2) Did you discover a similar fault and how did the ESB calculate the refund due to you?

    3) Did the ESB limit the refund paid to you to a maximum of 6 years? If so, this was illegal and a breach of your consumer rights.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 547 ✭✭✭Fuascailteoir


    People with storage heating and on day/night meters - please check your meter timers and your bills - and share your story in relation to overcharging due to ESB meter faults!

    There are about 350,000 customers on day/night meters in the country and at this time approximately 60,000 - 80,000 of these are faulty. Most of these will have been faulty for up to 20 years or more.

    6 months ago I found out that my meter time switch has been faulty.
    I rent an apartment and have storage heating. I'm on a day/night electricity plan.
    When this was discovered, I realised that I had been overcharged for electricity for over 16 years.
    The ESB don't check the meter timer switch when they read the meters. They only check them if they receive a complaint. I had complained numerous times over the years about high bills that didn't make sense but nothing was done about it. Complaints made to electricity suppliers don't get passed on to the ESB.

    The ESB have acknowledged that the fault is on their part and acknowledge that I have been overcharged for electricity all these years. They have given me a refund for 6 years of overcharging - in the region of €2,000. The full amount of refund owed to me is greater than €6,000.

    (Note: The customer experience of getting to the stage of receiving this partial refund has been excruciating. I was repeatedly ignored and I had to submit FOI requests to get the information needed to properly calculate the refund. Under the ESB procedure, the ESB first calculated that I owed them money, then said that they owed me €84, then eventually admitted that the meter time switch was never working properly and that I was overcharged for the whole time I have lived here).

    The ESB procedure (which they are illegally refusing to provide a copy of) is to limit all claims for overcharging to 6 years, claiming that the statute of limitations prevents them from refunding for periods of overcharging longer than this.
    This is completely illegal and wrong and the issue has been referred to the energy regulator - the CRU.

    I would like to ask people to share their stories in relation to having similar problems -

    1) Do you have storage heating and are your bills extremely high? If so, it is most likely due to a fault with the time switch on your electricity meter.

    2) Did you discover a similar fault and how did the ESB calculate the refund due to you?

    3) Did the ESB limit the refund paid to you to a maximum of 6 years? If so, this was illegal and a breach of your consumer rights.

    How did you know/prove that the meter was faulty


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,367 ✭✭✭Eire Go Brach


    How did you know/prove that the meter was faulty
    Yeh I’m wondering the same. You mentioned the time? But what exactly was the issue?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7 Consumer576


    I'd like to provide some further information in relation to my experience with the ESB on this issue of overcharging due to a time fault switch that the ESB are responsible for maintaining:

    I live in a two-bedroom apartment in a block of 12 apartments.

    When the ESB technician called I stayed with him when he read the time switch. He showed me that the time on the time switch had been wrong. This meant that my night time electricity usage was being charged at the day rate which is more than double the rate.

    I pointed out to him that most of the other time switches for the other apartments were also faulty. However, the technician did not want to speak to me further about it. It was as if he didn't even want me to be there to see that my own timer had been wrong. I asked him what would happen next but he wouldn't speak to me any further on the issue.

    Nothing was done about the faults on my neighbours' meters by the ESB. They left all the other faulty time switches as they were and allowed my neighbours to continue to be overcharged for months. This is the policy of the ESB in dealing with this issue. They only change faulty time switches if the customer complains and the chances of them receiving a customer complaint when they aren't the supplier is extremely low.

    I've have since informed my neighbours about the problem and they will also be seeking refunds for the amounts they have been overcharged. Some have been overcharged significantly for years.

    In the past two weeks, because I escalated this issue to a higher level and the regulator and a TD are now involved, the ESB have started to replace these faulty time switches at a rapid pace. They are doing this without contacting customers beforehand. Because of this, many customers with faulty time switches may not know that their meters and timers have been faulty and may not be given the opportunity to receive a fair refund.

    I advise you to please check your electricity meters and time switches, and find out if your meter has been changed recently. From my experience with the ESB on this issue, I would not rely on them at all to treat its customers fairly and refund them the full amounts that they are due.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7 Consumer576


    Day / Night meters are boxes with a dial that turns at a rate relative to the electricity usage. They have two numbers on them - one for recording day units and one for recording night.

    Separate from that box, there is a time switch. They are round clock type things - they may be white and red. If you are in an apartment, the time switches might all be bunched together so you might not be able to tell which time switch is for your meter. The time switch controls when the meter turns from recording night units to recording day units. If the time is wrong on the time switch it means your day and night units will record incorrectly. I didn't know what the time switches were until the ESB technician told me.

    Once you see them and figure them out you can read the time on them. It's not at all obvious though.
    When the technician showed me the meter timer, it was 9am and the time on it showed 4.30pm which was obviously wrong.
    I'll post pictures or a file explaining it better if I can.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7 Consumer576


    Yeh I’m wondering the same. You mentioned the time? But what exactly was the issue?
    To answer your question about proving that the timer switch was faulty, the best way to prove is to ask an ESB technician to inspect your meter timer but make sure you are there when they do.

    Also, you can take pictures of the meter timer.

    You can also watch your meter like an idiot (which is what I did to finally get to the bottom of my crazy high bills) and turn on and off appliances at different times of the day and night to check if your meter is working and recording the right units at the right time.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,518 ✭✭✭Gooser14


    6 months ago I found out that my meter time switch has been faulty. I rent an apartment and have storage heating. I'm on a day/night electricity plan. When this was discovered, I realised that I had been overcharged for electricity for over 16 years. The ESB don't check the meter timer switch when they read the meters. They only check them if they receive a complaint. I had complained numerous times over the years about high bills that didn't make sense but nothing was done about it. Complaints made to electricity suppliers don't get passed on to the ESB.


    My time switch was out by two hours and it was reported by the meter reader to ESB Networks. The first I knew about it was when they came to replace the time switch.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,163 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge


    Gooser14 wrote: »
    My time switch was out by two hours and it was reported by the meter reader to ESB Networks. The first I knew about it was when they came to replace the time switch.

    That's the norm.

    The Meter Reader (contracted out by ESB Networks) checks time switches and reports.

    I'd also like verification of the claim that 60-80,000 are incorrect. If Meter Readers failed to report errors countrywide to this extent then under their SLA they'd lose the contract.

    I also assume the refund was from the Supply Company (possibly Electric Ireland) as ESB Networks who own the meters don't bill customers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7 Consumer576


    Gooser14 wrote: »
    My time switch was out by two hours and it was reported by the meter reader to ESB Networks. The first I knew about it was when they came to replace the time switch.
    What happened next? Did they check your bills to see if the meter timer was possibly working incorrectly for years?
    In my case, my actual electricity usage was 80% night: 20% day - verified after the meter timer switch was replaced and was known to be accurate.

    Over the years I was charged on average 20% night : 80% day.

    If your meter timer was out by two hours, did you believe this? Did you get to see this yourself?
    These timers are often completely broken. The time changes because they don't measure time properly.. so at some stage your meter timer could have been out by 12 hours.

    What refund did you get? How was it calculated? Did your bill change significantly after the meter timer was replaced?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7 Consumer576


    Jim_Hodge wrote: »
    That's the norm.

    The Meter Reader (contracted out by ESB Networks) checks time switches and reports.

    I'd also like verification of the claim that 60-80,000 are incorrect. If Meter Readers failed to report errors countrywide to this extent then under their SLA they'd lose the contract.

    I also assume the refund was from the Supply Company (possibly Electric Ireland) as ESB Networks who own the meters don't bill customers.
    That is not the norm.
    Do you have a copy of the SLA with the meter readers? How do you know that the meter reader checks the time switches?
    They didn't do so on my apartment block for 16 years and the ESB have no record of any checks. The three ESB technicians who have attended here recently all told me that the meter timer switches are only replaced if the customer complains.
    They check the meters but not the time switches.

    I have a copy of a letter from the ESB that states that approximately 1 to 2% of meter timer switches go faulty in any one year. That is approx. 7,000 per year. The rate of replacement of these time switches falls very far short of 7,000 per year. I estimate they have been replacing no more than 500. They also clearly make efforts not to replace them where they know they are faulty ... unless they get a letter from a customer or a politician.

    I was also told my supplier that the issue affects 60,000 customers.
    Do you work for the ESB?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,046 ✭✭✭silver2020


    an awful lot of conjecture here by the OP.

    They have an issue so they assume that tens of thousands have an issue because "someone told me"

    they then guess a figure at 60,000 - 80,000 pulled out of thin air.

    Guess another figure that they replace 500 a year (can't they simply reset them?)


    I have day night on two rental properties. I check the meters every year or so to ensure they are keeping proper time as part of a normal maintenance check. I used to have a day/night on my own home years ago and again, it was normal to check the time settings.

    But if you want to create an arguable pint - give verifiable figures, not some bull you came up with in your head to back up your argument. Otherwise any valid issue you have will not get attention as its lost in the bull s"""


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7 Consumer576


    silver2020 wrote: »
    an awful lot of conjecture here by the OP.

    They have an issue so they assume that tens of thousands have an issue because "someone told me"

    they then guess a figure at 60,000 - 80,000 pulled out of thin air.

    Guess another figure that they replace 500 a year (can't they simply reset them?)


    I have day night on two rental properties. I check the meters every year or so to ensure they are keeping proper time as part of a normal maintenance check. I used to have a day/night on my own home years ago and again, it was normal to check the time settings.

    But if you want to create an arguable pint - give verifiable figures, not some bull you came up with in your head to back up your argument. Otherwise any valid issue you have will not get attention as its lost in the bull s"""
    If you think your meter timers are working correctly and your tenants' meter timers are working correctly, then this is not an issue for you.

    The 60,000-80,000 figure was advised to me by my supplier. This was then confirmed in a letter from the ESB. There are 370,000 day/night meters in the country. This is the figure provided by the ESB.

    I am not trying to 'create an arguable point'. I'm raising an issue of possible overcharging of a significant number of people who use storage heating on day/night meters.
    I am trying to help people who have been affected by this issue as I have.
    Why would I make false claims in relation to this issue?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,163 ✭✭✭✭Jim_Hodge


    If you think your meter timers are working correctly and your tenants' meter timers are working correctly, then this is not an issue for you.

    The 60,000-80,000 figure was advised to me by my supplier. This was then confirmed in a letter from the ESB. There are 370,000 day/night meters in the country. This is the figure provided by the ESB.

    I am not trying to 'create an arguable point'. I'm raising an issue of possible overcharging of a significant number of people who use storage heating on day/night meters.
    I am trying to help people who have been affected by this issue as I have.
    Why would I make false claims in relation to this issue?

    You're guessing. You made no allowance for the fact that faulty T switches are replaced. Do you think people with storage heating can't see the Day and Night usage on every bi-monthly bill?

    You had an issue but don't project based on your case or the number of switches that are faulty each year. Meters over time develop faults as well but, like time switches, are replaced. Indeed many thousands are replaced annually simply based in age in addition to faults.


  • Moderators, Education Moderators, Music Moderators Posts: 10,686 Mod ✭✭✭✭melekalikimaka


    The 60,000-80,000 figure was advised to me by my supplier. This was then confirmed in a letter from the ESB. There are 370,000 day/night meters in the country. This is the figure provided by the ESB.

    How do they know this many are faulty? Can you link to any proof of any of these claims or are they just personal assurances to you from a supplier that has nothing to do with the meter management and networks who confirmed a claim you made??


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,056 ✭✭✭✭ted1


    If they are out by 2 hours. Then you are getting 2 hours of day usage charged at night rates so saving money at the back end.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,518 ✭✭✭Gooser14


    ted1 wrote:
    If they are out by 2 hours. Then you are getting 2 hours of day usage charged at night rates so saving money at the back end.


    That's fine provided one is aware the clock is reading incorrectly else you could be running equipment at the begining of the low cost time but be paying the higher unit price.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,056 ✭✭✭✭ted1


    Gooser14 wrote: »
    That's fine provided one is aware the clock is reading incorrectly else you could be running equipment at the begining of the low cost time but be paying the higher unit price.

    Or running equipment , electric showers outside the time snd saving


  • Registered Users Posts: 191 ✭✭Curiousness99


    Thread resurrected, i recently discovered by night reader had a stopped clock which meant it wasnt recording night time usagr (bizarely it ticked up every now and again, bot sure why) based on the usage since it's been fixed, I'd say I'm owed a very substantial refund.


    Anyone being through the wringer with EBS. I can see a long campaign to get my cash back from them, I'd guess is could easily be 10k and possibly a good bit more

    I'd say it will be complicated because i change provider every year

    Thanks



  • Registered Users Posts: 230 ✭✭johnbk


    Hi, I got a letter from ESB networks just before Christmas that my day/night meter is faulty. The letter is very vague and I assumed it was a way of changing my meter to a smart meter, so I wrote to them and asked them not to change the meter until they give me more detail.

    I worked out the best smart tariff and it would have cost me €200 extra on last years bills over the night saver I am currently on.

    I have had a clamp meter installed to see what is happening. It is a professional set-up and calibrated by the manufacturer every 12 months. https://electrocorder.com/

    I am still in shock as I write this. The ESB meter is 50% over! I have emailed them the results.

    The information at the start of this thread is very interesting. I wonder has anyone experienced an issue like this and how ESB networks communicate on this issue. I still have not heard from them yet although a technician has been out to fix the time clock.

    My views are my own.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,297 ✭✭✭walterking


    I'd get a smart meter tomorrow. They are unbelievably good on giving you insights and reducing your costs.

    My smart meter is in about 10 months now and my bills are LOWER than last year even with increase in rates as I understand where the usage is and was able to make some small changes to drop use


    I reckon the smart meter has saved me about e600 already mainly because I can work out where heavy usage is and can change things and then visibly see the difference.

    Biggest change is using the 45 min wash on washing machine and similar on dishwasher and using night rate for both



  • Registered Users Posts: 19,555 ✭✭✭✭Muahahaha


    Back in 2020 my fuseboard developed a humming noise almost like electricity was surging at it so I rang ESB networks. The agent on the phone said they dont have anything to do with fuseboards and they only deal with meters and could only help me if there was a problem with that. That jogged my mind that my night meter was almost 30 minutes late in changing over, I could hear it flicking at 11.29pm every night instead of 11pm. So I said that to her and she said she would send someone out.

    An engineer knocked at my door a couple of weeks later to ask what the problem was, I explained the day/night meter was needing its clock reset. His attitude stank at being called out to change a clock, he was very gruff about it and he said that it doesnt matter because you would get that 29 minutes back until 7.29am instead of 7am. It might not have mattered to him but it did to me as I was running the dishwasher and washing machine on the night rate. So for a couple of years I was having to wait until 11.30pm to turn them on. I wont go to bed with them running (fire risk) so I was always up longer than I had to be becasue their meter had the wrong time set on it.

    If I didnt know that the night rate was running 30 minutes late I would have been using the washing machine & dishwasher at day rates for the first 30 minutes of their cycle. While its not massive it all adds up over the years so the problem would leak money out of your pocket. So yeah I can see where the OP is coming from especially for people who are in apartments as the meter is normally on the ground floor well away from their actual apartment so they wouldnt hear the day to night rate switchover happening. Id say its worth anyones while checking the clock on their meter and going to listen to it at 11pm to make sure it is changing over at that time. If its not and you are running appliances then you're getting overcharged.



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