Posts Tagged ‘Octopus Energy’

Appalling error by Octopus Energy.

January 24, 2023

Update: Within 24 hours of publishing this, Octopus sorted out the issue. Of course it should never have happened but mistakes do happen and I am grateful that they (eventually) sorted it out.

Apparently the error arose from a firm ware update to the smart meter which clashed with a meter reading, and Octopus’s system didn’t catch the error. 

Worryingly, several other readers of this blog and followers on Twitter have reported the same problem at exactly the same timeAnyway. I am older and wiser!

Friends, I am a customer of Octopus Energy who seem like a decent company with an agenda to push forward the energy transition.

But everyone makes mistakes. And I have just been sent a bill for a single month which is in error by more than £1,600. Yes, it is approximately one thousand six hundred pounds too much on a bill expected to be around £100.

This is an obvious error. Octopus’s own numbers do not add up. And yet they have still billed me for this incorrect amount.

I am sure this will be corrected eventually but I still feel frightened simply to see that amount indicated as an amount that I owe. Indeed, I am shaking as I type this.

The important question here is not my liability: it is this: If Octopus can make such a gross error and not notice it, how can we have have confidence that they – and other energy companies – are not making errors routinely but at a level at which people just might not notice?

What’s the problem?

Here are some excerpts from my bill for 12th December 2022 to 11th January 2023.

Click on Image for a larger version. Excerpt from Octopus Energy bill claiming that I used £1,873.30 of electricity between 12th December 2022 and 11th January 2023.

The excerpt above compellingly suggests that I owe Octopus energy £1,873.30 for electricity used between 12th December 2022 and 11th January 2023.

The excerpt below emphasises this. It shows the breakdown of that consumption between peak and off-peak hours. Most of the consumption arose because I apparently consumed 4,458.6 kWh of electricity during peak hours during this single month.

To understand how ridiculous that is, last year I used 3,323 kWh for the whole year! It’s an obvious error – but it gets worse.

Click on Image for a larger version. Excerpt from Octopus Energy bill suggesting that I used 4,458.6 kWh of electricity during peak hours between 12th December 2022 and 11th January 2023. For comparison , last year I used 3,323 kWh for the whole year!

Pleasingly, Octopus send a detailed breakdown of electricity showing consumption every 30 minutes during the entire month. the 31 pages each look something like the page below:

Click on Image for a larger version. Octopus send details of energy consumption for every 30-minutes throughout the month. Here is the page showing consumption on 12th December 2022.

From this you can see that on 12th December 2022, we downloaded energy to charge our battery using off-peak electricity. But on this very cold day, the battery had discharged by around 2:00 p.m. and we then consumed full price electricity for the rest of the day.

This cold day involved a relatively high consumption of electricity – 37.4 kWh/day – to operate the heat pump. But even if we did this every day it would still only amount to only 1,160 kWh for the whole month.

I went through each page and added up the energy used: It looks like this:

Click on Image for a larger version. Adding up the amount of electricity consumed through the month teh answer comes to 750 kWh at a cost of £104.94 – an average cost per unit of around 14.0 p/kWh.

Looking at the days individually and adding up the cost on each day, Octopus’s analysis suggest that I used around 750 kWh of energy in this period, or around 24 kWh/day. This is very much in line with what my manual meter readings suggested and what I was expecting.

It is not in agreement with the statement on the bill that I used 4,458.6 kWh of electricity during this period at a cost of £1,730. So Octopus’s own bill simply does not add up.

Octopus Response

I wrote to Octopus on 13th January pointing out this error and a representative replied to tell me that Octopus were aware of the issue and I would not be billed.

However it is now 24th January and I now have been billed! I am now alarmed and distressed.

Click on Image for a larger version. Octopus told me they were aware of the issue and I would not be billed.

How has this come about?

I think I know how this has occurred. I think it arises from a single erroneous reading of my meter.

I subscribe for £12 a year to the Powershaper service which gives me access to my own half-hourly electricity readings! I think these data are read from the same database used by the electricity companies for billing.

Looking through these readings I noticed an anomaly on 11th January 2023. In a single half hour between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. I apparently used 4,295 kWh.

This is more than my entire annual usage last year in a single half-hour period! It corresponds to electricity consumption at a rate of 8.59 MW – megawatts! – for the entire half hour. This is not physically possible, and is obviously an erroneous reading.

Click on Image for a larger version. Octopus told me they were aware of the issue and I would not be billed.

I think Octopus have overridden their automated systems to correct this error on the day-by-day analysis, but failed to correct the consequental error on the monthly bill.

So how can Octopus have made such an error?

I just don’t know how sophisticated billing systems which must surely be audited (?) could possibly make such an error.

I am sure that Octopus will eventually correct this. But I am frankly appalled that it is even technically possible to issue a bill which is so grossly in error.

So check your bills!


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