Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Fighting the Octopus


YOU’LL have noticed we have entered an age of relentlessly enforced micro-compliance. Remember that fellow who couldn’t enter Aldi’s food section without a QR code? The Eleventh Commandment: ‘Thou shalt have a smartphone, or else.’

Now the Twelfth Commandment: ‘Thou shalt install a smart meter.’

From time to time I read fantasy forecasts that ‘the people will rise up’ against some form of tyranny. They never do, unless there is war, civil war or famine, in which case new evil leaders will come in and take over.

Modern technology means that the grip of the controllers is now so tight, personal and precise that only a full-on system breakdown would liberate the citizens – who might well not survive the disruption, so interconnected are we.

Here’s my bid to be The Last Man In Europe, though: an exchange of emails with Octopus Energy.


Hi Rolf, [Have we met? What’s your name, by the way?]

Your meters are approaching the end of their certification period and need to be replaced.

Book my smart meter appointment

The install’s a breeze, here’s everything you need to know in under two minutes.

What is a certification period?

Just like food, each electricity and gas meter is given a ‘best before’ date when it’s manufactured. In the industry, it’s called a certification date, and is set by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). It’s our responsibility to let you know when your meters are approaching their certification date and get them replaced.

Book my appointment

Love and power, [What?!]

The Smart Metering Team [Your first name is The?]

P.S. Getting a smart meter won’t cost you any extra (just like the installation and maintenance of traditional meters – the costs are covered in everyone’s energy bills).




Hi Rolf,

Thanks for getting in touch.

Sorry to hear you’re unhappy with our suggestion to exchange your meters. I have opened a 24h complaint (ref: 564345) on your account to this effect so we have a record of your dissatisfaction [now we’ve noted you as a troublemaker, Buster] and feedback in place to work on improving our services in future.

Like most things, meters do have a lifespan; accuracy and reliability decrease with time and your meters have passed their certification period.

Unfortunately, we only install smart meters and the engineers in your area do not have the resources available to replace with a standard meter. May I ask why you’re hesitant in getting a smart meter installed? [Yeah, let’s handle your stupid objections.] They’re really handy as they send us readings automatically [when it’s all automated, who you gonna call?] and help customers reduce their energy consumption [though of course we don’t offer a tariff discount, dummy].

Let me know if you need any further assistance at all. [At all, at all! Ya fretful ninny!]


I do not need to justify myself to your company. But I think we should not be quick to give others the means to observe and control us remotely. I understand that the government is setting and enforcing targets on this; please make mine the last in the United Kingdom.

Best wishes

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Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk is a former teacher and retired independent financial adviser.

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