I do not need sensible meters, so Eon is charging me £316 to switch mine

I have gas and electric meters that need changing as they are now pretty old. Eon has been trying to persuade me to have smart versions fitted but I have resisted. 

Over the phone an Eon agent told me I could have conventional, non-smart meters fitted but it would cost £147 per meter, whereas the smart meters would be free. I said I would rather pay than have smart meters. I have just received a message stating that the charge will now be £158 per meter. Why has the amount changed? P.L., Aldwick, West Sussex.

Eon wanted to increase the cost of meter replacement from £147 to £158

Eon wanted to increase the cost of meter replacement from £147 to £158

Sally Hamilton replies: Energy suppliers are legally obliged to replace gas and electric meters when they get to the end of their life and since yours are 20 years old it is time to change them.

But since these old-style meters are no longer manufactured, some providers will charge for them to be installed — if they can even get hold of them.

Your request for replacements has coincided with the national rollout of smart meters — the new technology that connects meters straight to suppliers over a secure network, with the goal of receiving regular, automatic and accurate readings.

Energy companies have government targets to meet for installing the new-style meters, with about four-fifths of households in England, Scotland and Wales expected to have them by the end of 2025. Though anyone with properly functioning old-style meters can continue using them.

The advertised benefits of smart meters are customers should no longer face the fiddly matters of meter readings or estimated bills. The meters come with a ­separate display screen to show people how much energy they are using in their home — and how much it is costing in almost ­real time. The idea is that this ­knowledge helps households cut down usage.

It’s not compulsory to accept a smart meter — and as Money Mail’s postbag can testify, many people don’t want them. One drawback for refuseniks is they can miss out on competitive tariffs energy companies might offer only to smart meter customers.

You told me that fears about poor reliability was one reason you didn’t want smart meters. You don’t like the idea someone could switch off your power on a whim, though energy companies say they would never do this.

You feel nervous that hackers could gain access to data. Experts say the meters run on a secure network and even if ­miscreants did make a successful hack, the information gleaned would be limited. Nevertheless, you felt ­uncomfortable enough to request the old-style meters and were prepared to pay.

I contacted Eon on your behalf to ask why you were given two different figures for the cost of replacing your old-style meters. It told me you were misinformed by the initial agent who had ­accidentally quoted the cost of removing a meter entirely, whereas the second price — £158 — was the correct one, meaning it would cost £316 to replace both your gas and electricity meters.

Eon then got in touch with you to apologise for the faulty pricing quote and offered £50 as an ­apology. At the same time, it ­suggested you could opt to have smart meters installed at no cost — and then run them in ‘dumb’ mode, which means they operate like a classic meter with you taking regular readings, as before.

You said you would have preferred to have the old-style meters but reluctantly agreed to compromise.

When we caught up last week, you confirmed the smart meters have been fitted and are running satisfactorily in dumb mode.

An Eon spokesman says: ‘We made it clear there is an extra cost for requesting replacement classic meters for two reasons: firstly because suppliers have a mandate from Government to deliver the smart meter rollout and secondly because classic meters are no longer manufactured, which means suppliers are less able to source and fit them.’

Can Sally Sorts It help you? 

Do you have a consumer problem you need help with? Email Sally Hamilton at [email protected] — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. 

Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. 

No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail or This Is Money for answers given. 

Help! Vinted has frozen our account after the watch we sold went missing

My wife sold a brand new, unwanted Samsung smart watch on the Vinted online marketplace for £120. The buyer said the watch was not in the parcel when it arrived. Vinted suspended my wife’s account, provided a refund to the buyer but now it won’t respond to our enquiries. Please help. S.J., London.

Sally Hamilton replies: You said you meticulously packaged the watch using a special envelope and took a photo of the IMEI number — the unique identification number — on the device. You then dispatched the watch via Evri from your local post office, ensuring compliance with its guidelines for shipping items containing batteries (a special sticker was attached) and having it weighed. The package was approved for shipment by the counter clerk.

When you pursued the matter of the missing watch with the buyer, they told you the package had been left on a car bonnet outside their home and that the envelope had been tampered with — they sent you photos to back this up.

Vinted refunded the buyer — but why not you?

Under its terms and conditions, buyers using Vinted pay a compulsory buyer’s protection fee with every purchase, as well as commission and postage. The fee varies between 3pc to 8pc plus 30p to 80p per transaction. The protection fee means if the item doesn’t arrive, is damaged or significantly not as described, then the buyer gets a full refund — so long as Vinted is told within two days.

For sellers, there is no such protection. But I note that Vinted’s terms and conditions do mention sellers who have a problem. It states: ‘We’ll step up for you in case your buyer’s claim for a refund appears to be not solid.’

I asked the company to investigate your case.

Soon afterwards, Vinted agreed to refund you and reinstate your wife’s account as a goodwill gesture. A spokesman says: ‘Our team has investigated, and we are pleased to inform the ­customer that we will be issuing a refund to the Vinted account to address the loss whilst the parcel was in transit.’