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Gas Bills: 1.5 Million Customers Overcharged By Faulty Meters

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More than a million pre-payment gas customers have been overcharged because their meters are faulty, the industry has admitted.

About 1.5 million meters have not been working properly since they were installed, some as long ago as 2007.

The industry body Energy UK said customers may have been over-charged by as much as 25p for each top-up.

Those worst affected may have been overcharged by as much as £110, but most will have lost far less.

"We apologise unreservedly to customers," said Lawrence Slade, the chief operating officer of Energy UK.

"We have acted quickly, and we want those affected to get their money back as soon as possible," he told the BBC.

7 years is apparently acting quickly.....

Still all boosts GDP and profits.

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I had actually noticed this when I had a pre-payment meter last year (moved into a new place where the previous tenant had done a bunk).

The error relates to the way the meter calculates the energy used. Credit gas meters measure volume - the gas supplier then converts the volume of gas to energy, and then calculates the price. As nat gas is a natural product, it varies in quality, hence national grid analyses the gas daily, and publish the energy content (calorific value). Suppliers then estimate the average energy content of the gas you used when they calculate your bills.

Prepayment meters must know the calorific value of the gas in order to know how much gas volume to dispense. The issue is that the default value of gas calorific value programmed into teh meters was slightly more than the actual energy content.

I did notice that the calorific value was higher than I recalled from previous bills, but didn't look into it very far, as I assumed it was just natural variation from region to region (I had moved half way across the country) and time to time. I had so much trouble even opening an account with british gas, and explaining to them that the meter was deducting someone else's debt (they were adamant and gave several written responses saying the meter was not deducting any debt, despite photos of the meter showing how much debt was being deducted. It needed a complaint to the ombudsman to get the credit recalculated correctly. And after that they refused to remove the prepayment meter because there was "too much credit on it"). I had thought about querying it at the time, but I decided that it wasn't worth the effort.

This story prompted me to check it - the meter was charging me for a CV of 40.9 MJ/m3, whereas downloading the data from national grid, I worked out a CV of 39.3 MJ/m3 over the period in question; a discrepancy of 4%. However, at the time I was only using about £4-5 of gas a week, so it works out at about 20p a week overcharge.

I wonder if I'll get the money back. BG have already refused to refund the credit I left on the meter when I left, and have refused to accept closing meter readings for teh account. Bizarrely, they sent me a cheque yesterday (after having left the place a year ago) for an "unclaimed discount".

Edited by ChumpusRex

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