Hidden charges for smart meters are catching small businesses unawares, says a price comparison company.
The sophisticated meters are being offered free by energy suppliers as part of a national programme to provide new products and services and make it easier for businesses and householders to monitor consumption and improve efficiency.
But Make it Cheaper, which acts for businesses, charities and trade associations in negotiating power deals, is recording a sharp increase in the number of companies eager to instal the new meters but cancelling contracts because of the 'extras.’
Businesses are finding charges ranging from 20p to 60p a day are being added to their bills in the shape of additional standing charges. In some cases rental fees are being introduced if customers switch suppliers.
Jim Fallow, vice-chairman of The Park Club, a bowls and tennis club in Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, negotiated considerable savings on a new supply contract but found the benefits had been wiped out when told the club would have to pay an extra daily charge of 60p a meter.