An assortment of indigestible things

Metered estate lock-in: an update

This article was written in 2012.  I no longer live in the area and don’t have any more up-to-date information.  I’m leaving it here for reference only.

My previous post about supplier lock-in and metered estates generated a modicum of interest, both in the comments and in messages I’ve received directly. It seems that there is a small but significant number of medium-to-large metered estates where the consensus necessary for switching suppliers is rendered impossible by the inevitable turnover in fixed-term contracts. The Competition Commission’s order requires that all residents on a metered estate must be free of fixed-term contractual obligations before a switch can be made.

Rather than updating the original post again and again, I’ll summarise what I’ve found out so far.

  • On 13th February 2012 I wrote to my MP (using WriteToThem) asking if there was anything he could do. He replied sympathetically, acknowledged that there did appear to have been an oversight, and requested information from—
    • the Competition Commission, who said that they were powerless to act now that the order has been made;
    • the Office of Fair Trading, who sent a detailed reply, which despite its length offered little beyond the information contained in its own metered estate FAQ document;
    • Charles Hendry MP, the minister responsible for such things at the DECC. In his reply, he refers to the OFT’s ‘practical advice’ in their own reply, and goes on to talk about energy efficiency and affordability measures.
  • None of the respondents directly addressed the substantive point: combining unanimity with freedom from mandatory contract periods across a large metered estate is all but impossible.

Even if I do manage to collect some data on metered estates, I’m not quite sure what to do next. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to run a protracted campaign even if I knew what to do! The best I can do is hope that the information I’ve collected, and that which is yet to come in, will help some future person fix this problem once and for all.


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1 Comment

  1. Ren Lewis

    Fat chance of any of these quangos getting to grips with metered estates. I too have written to the above with no hope. we are 34 units finally supposed to be out of contract which the developer instated, but we have rented properties, so the three months that we have to give notice is risky, as you know. So the thing to do is keep going and complaining. I have written to the new Minister for Energy and not had the courtesy of a reply.

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