If you live in Auckland you can hardly fail to have noticed the visually-arresting ads in the bus shelters for EnergyOnline.  The company (or its PR agency certainly has a great designer.)  But even if you haven’t noticed the ads on the bus shelters, over the last two or three years you may regularly have had sales people coming to your door to try to persuade you to change from your current electricity company to the one that they are promoting.

A major hook for all these sales pitches is that you will be able to save money on your electricity bill (and who doesn’t want to save money on their electricity bill?).

However, in many cases, changing electricity companies may come at a hidden price.

EnergyOnline (and its parent company, Genesis) for example, have statements in their Terms and Conditions that you must allow the installation of a “smart meter”.  (See this link for details: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/smart-meter-installed-without-permission-headaches-result-smart-meter-removed-headaches-disappear/ )

If you don’t want to risk the potential health effects from a “smart meter”  (see these links: www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/health-issues/ and https://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/survey-of-people-adversely-affected-by-smart-meters/       the promise of “cheaper energy” by EnergyOnline may not be worth it and Genesis may not be the best option for you, either.

Moreover, these two companies also  have statements in their terms and conditions to the effect that they own all the data accumulated by your “smart meter” and reserve the right to supply it to “third parties”.  See this link for more details:

https://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/government-and-electricity-industry-positions/network-tasman-there-are-no-privacy-concerns-with-smart-meters-yeah-right/

Bear in mind, the data can be so detailed that whoever has access to it will be able to know when you boil the kettle to make tea/coffee, use your toaster, take a shower, cook, use a computer, TV or any other piece of mains-powered electrical equipment…they will know what you do when in the privacy of your own home…a bit creepy, really.

Is your privacy (and potentially home security) worth a few dollars a month on your electricity bills?

Mercury Energy similarly has statements in its Terms and Conditions to the effect that customers must allow existing meters to be replaced.

(See:  https://www.stopsmartmeters.org.nz/latest-news/customer-tells-company-smart-meter-not-wanted-company-sends-technician-anyway/ )

Other companies may have similar terms and conditions…I haven’t had time to read  through every company’s website.

Given that once a “smart meter” has been installed, companies can be very reluctant to remove them  (even when customers have reported significant “smart meter”-related  illness), it is prudent to check companies’ terms and conditions concerning “smart  meters” before changing companies, in my opinion.

When it comes to electricity companies these days, it is very much a case of caveat emptor – buyer beware.