Within the last couple of weeks, a customer of Mercury Energy in the Coromandel area informed the company by email that a “smart meter” was not acceptable.  The company sent a technician to replace the meter anyway.

As the meter box was not yet locked, only the fact that the customer was home prevented the installation from taking place without the customer’s permission.  The installer was driving an unmarked vehicle and was not wearing an identity badge, nor branded clothing. The installer was polite and said that he would cancel the job when the customer stated that he did not want a “smart meter”.  However, from the conversation it was apparent that he had been told the customer did not want a “smart meter” before he came to the property.

You can read the correspondence below, as well as some comments on the correspondence:

 

Email from customer to Mercury Energy:

Good morning,

 

We received your notice in the mail yesterday advising of your intention to install a smart meter at our property at [address edited out to protect correspondent’s privacy]

 

Please be advised we do not accept industry assurances that this technology is safe for constant human exposure and we are opposed to the new meter being installed.

Accordingly, we withdraw any approvals we may have previously given for your contractors to come onto our land for the purposes of installing a new smart meter.

 

As an alternative arrangement we are willing to do monthly meter readings ourselves and to provide this information to you by email.

 

Please be advised of our intent to terminate our supply arrangement with Mercury Energy in the event you are not willing to acquiesce to our wishes.

 

We would appreciate a response to this email as soon as possible to advise us of any alternative arrangements you are able to offer.

 

Kind regards,

[Customer of Mercury Energy]

 

Reply from electricity company:

 

Thank you for your email enquiry.

 

At Mercury we are currently upgrading all of our meters to smart meters as this is now the industry standard. Unfortunately we are not holding or stopping this process anywhere in New Zealand and all meters will be upgraded in due course.

 

If you do not want a Smart meter installed at your property you will have to find a retailer that is prepared to do this for you, as an industry the completion target for having every meter in New Zealand transitioned to smart metering is the end of 2015.

 

Please be aware you will need to switch out very soon as the switch over process can take 10 working days and the meters in your area are due to be upgraded during April 2014.

 

I do also have to make you aware that as a customer of Mercury you are bound by our terms and conditions below

 

8.5 You must ensure that we and Our Representatives have safe, unobstructed and easy access (including unobstructed vehicle access), as assessed by us and/or Our Representatives, to and over the Property (and any premises in which Meters or Equipment are located) at all reasonable times, for the following purposes:
(a) to inspect or take readings from the Meters or to verify any metering information;
(b) to install, connect or disconnect, test, inspect, maintain, repair, replace, operate, move or remove Meters or other Equipment owned by us or Our Representatives;
(c) to connect or disconnect your Connection Point;
(d) to restore Energy following an unplanned outage;
(e) to investigate the cause of any interference to Energy supply;
(f) to clear trees, vegetation or other obstacles from lines and related equipment if you fail to do so as required by clause 6.4(c)
(g) to protect, or to prevent damage or danger to, people or property;
(h) to disconnect the Energy supply in accordance with clause 13; and/or
(i) for any other reason relevant to the provision of Energy supply or network services by us, the Lines Company or the Network Operator.

 

All other terms and conditions can be found here: www.mercury.co.nz/terms.aspx

 

If you have any more questions feel free to contact us on 0800 10 18 10, we are open Monday to Friday from 8am until 8pm, or you can always access our website www.mercury.co.nz at any time.

 

Kind Regards,

[Representative of Mercury Energy]

 

Comments by the editor of  www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz:

 

In citing the Terms and Conditions above, the representative of Mercury Energy seems to imply that any customer of Mercury Energy who is bound by their standard Terms and Conditions would be in breach of the Terms and Conditions if they obstruct entry to a meter box to prevent a “smart meter” installation.

It would seem prudent, therefore, for customers of Mercury Energy who are otherwise happy with the company, but who do not want a “smart meter” to try to renegotiate the Terms and Conditions with the company.

According to this link https://www.mercury.co.nz/terms/residential-1.aspx it is theoretically possible for “Special Terms” to be included in a contract with Mercury Energy and I see no reason (other than possibly disinterest in the concerns of their customers) why the company should not agree to “Special Terms” to re-certify existing analogue (electromechanical) meters that are in good condition or replace analogue meters with new purely analogue meters for customers who do not want to be exposed to the microwave radiation  produced by “smart meters”.

Please note that I am not a lawyer, so the above comments should not be misconstrued as legal advice.

Mercury Energy is not the only company that has clauses in its Terms and Conditions that appear to be designed to coerce customers into accepting a “smart meter” .  The Terms and Conditions for Genesis and its subsidiary EnergyOnline are discussed at this link https://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-meter-installed-without-permission-headaches-result-smart-meter-removed-headaches-disappear/

And privacy issues, with special reference to these two companies are discussed at this link: https://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/is-your-smart-meter-spying-on-you/