£99,999, what's your emergency? Paramedics rush to OAP's aid after shock meter reading
'I nearly had a heart attack!' Emphasis on 'nearly'
It's no secret that the UK's smart meter rollout has been a bit, well, shit – whether it's the buggers befuddling Saxons by deciding to start speaking Welsh or simply the fact that the project is perennially delayed and over budget.
"A dog's breakfast," you might say, and indeed one economist has said exactly that.
Now the gizmos are even trying to scare bill payers to death, an old Bristolian has told his local rag.
Ted Willman, 89, had only got the damnable thing installed because he had previously complained about his monthly direct debit rocketing from £65 to £241.
But if you thought that was heart-stopping, cop a load of this.
On 9 September, Ted was understandably perturbed to find his smart meter screaming that he owed his electricity provider, E.on, £99,999.
Quite clearly an error – unless old Ted has been running an illicit data centre under his house.
He told BristolLive: "I thought, 'how can I afford that?' so I rang them up. After eventually getting through to someone I said I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the reading."
Big mistake. You can't be jocular with call-centre staff, Ted. Humour hasn't yet reached their civilisation.
"I said I'd be needing plenty of tablets for my angina now," he continued.
"The person on the line then kept asking if I was alright, before putting me through to a lady who was on the meter-reading side.
"She said something had gone wrong with the meter and it would be looked into."
Minutes later, however, two police officers were banging on the door, saying E.on had asked them to check on Ted's welfare. They asked their questions and left because of course Ted hadn't really had a heart attack, nor did he ever say as much.
Not long after, a paramedic crew rolled up. "He said they'd had a phone call from E.on concerned about my health and they wanted to come and check on me. They asked some more questions and I showed him the reading. We had a good laugh at the situation."
Let's hope someone wasn't actually dying while E.on desperately tried to show how much it values its customers – but fair play to them for erring on the side of caution.
"It was all a bit funny," he said, "but there is a serious side to this; the hikes in prices us pensioners face [are] too much. We see our pensions go up in pennies, the bills go up in pounds.
"Maybe the companies are trying to get rid of old pensioners like me by frightening them to death."
An E.on spokesman told the paper: "Mr Willman contacted us because an error on his in-home display unit showed an incorrect amount for his next bill. During the call our adviser became concerned for Mr Willman's wellbeing and felt it necessary to raise those concerns with the emergency services.
"With regard to Mr Willman's account, we have actual meter readings from which the account has been billed correctly.
"We have also offered to investigate the fault with his in-home display unit and we are in discussions about what further support may be available to him."
Folks, better learn from Mr Willman, and check your will, man, before you look at your e-meter. ®