A leaked report has revealed that millions of British householders are being overcharged thanks to inaccurate gas meters. The report found one in six of the National Grid's older meters registered gas than had been used and nearly all were found to have "accuracy problems".
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For the average customer, the problem only adds up to £26 a year over and above what should have been charged - but the total for the entire country means gas suppliers are bagging millions of pounds each year.
The National Grid tested nearly 5,000 of their oldest models in 2007 and found that 83 per cent of the 1983 U6 UGI Black Spot meter were faulty, while 69 per cent of the 2000 model G4 Magnol Version 1 were also over-registering by more than the two per cent tolerance.
And yet two years later, the figure remains unchanged.
It is thought the problem is caused by worn out diaphragms inside the meters and the National Grid insists that it is targeting the problem meters and had replaced 95 per cent of the U6 Black Spot model, with 500,000 meters replaced each year.
But with the smart meters soon to be installed in more than 27 million homes and businesses in the next 10 years (according to Government plans) critics say replacement programmes have slowed.
Ray Cope, a retired director of the Gas Consumers Council, told the Daily Mail: "The scale of the problem is disgraceful and it is clear from the report that there are potentially millions of defective meters out there.
"At a time when gas bills are soaring anyway and with the present financial pressures on people, consumers cannot afford to pay even more for their gas because their meter is inaccurate.
"Regulators Ofgem and the National Measurement Office must take immediate action to sort out this mess and replace the defective meters."
A spokesman for the National Grid said: "This report is a business management tool, and the meters tested were selected as being older or identified as being potentially inaccurate so that they could be prioritised for replacement. It is not representative of meters in the UK generally."
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