Martin Lewis issues ‘fraud’ warning over meter readings ahead of energy bill hike



Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis has warned people not to break the law ahead of gas and electric bill increases after fans questioned him about their meter readings. From April 1 households all across the UK will see a sharp increase in their energy bills, but there are ways to mitigate the sharp costs.

One key piece of advice from Mr Lewis is that people should take a reading from their meters and supply it to their company before April 1 to ensure the maximum amount of gas and electricity is charged at the current, and soon to be much cheaper, rate, Birmingham Livereports. Energy companies have been overwhelmed with customer inquiries leading to some sites crashing today, March 31, which has been dubbed ‘National Meter Reading Day’.

It is believed around 18 million households on standard tariffs will see an average increase of £692 – from £1,277 to 1,971 per year. Meanwhile, around 4.5 million prepayment customers will see an increase of £708.

Readmore: Ofgem issues energy bill advice to customers as British Gas, EON, Scottish Power websites crash

Mr Lewis claims he has received messages from people asking if they should provide a false reading before April 1 and has now warned against the idea. In response, he tweeted: “Many asking me Q. Can I give a falsely inflated meter reading on 31 March – so I get more at the cheap rate that I use in April? A. That’s called fraud I’m afraid.”

While giving a higher reading on March 31 will theoretically provide a cheaper rate, it is illegal to falsify this and you will be caught out if a representative comes to see your meter. Most companies tell customers they should use a smart meter to ensure the reading they provide is accurate.

There are also some other tips customers can use to ensure they pay less in the coming year, such as using LED bulbs or using more eco-friendly appliances.

Octopus Energy mentioned Mr Lewis’ advice as it explained to customers what was behind its website struggling to process meter readings.

In a statement, the firm said: “It looks like every large energy provider’s website is down this morning… this is usually due to dramatically increased web visits.

“Martin Lewis’s advice for customers to submit meter readings on the same day as #MeterReadingDay has driven incredible traffic – we’ve added additional capacity this morning to bolster our servers and are fairly stable.”

Meanwhile, supplier E.On apologized for a tweet in which it claimed Mr Lewis was ‘bringing down Britain’ with his meter reading guidance. In a tweet that has since been deleted, E.On said: “Unfortunately the website and phone lines of every supplier are being hammered today. Martin has once again created unprecedented demand bringing down Britain.”

The energy giant later said: “This was an ill-considered and off-the-cuff remark made by one of our energy specialists and in no way reflects our position. “We have an excellent working relationship with Martin Lewis and his team, and we apologize for any offense caused.”

Lewis downplayed E.On’s comment, later posting on Twitter: “On the Eon tweet – I think it was someone trying to be funny – who forgot that you can’t do a wry smile in Twitter.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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