The Disservice Economy and its Bad Goods; Fuelling The Global Money Making Engine: 3

Utilities SmartMeters

This past Summer our phone has been ringing again and again with calls from our utilities provider ‘whose team is in the area right now’ and ‘is ready to fit a spanking new SmartMeter in your home free of charge’. The nuisance levels of the utilities provider’s calls have been a cause of disturbance to our homelife. At one time calls were coming more or less daily with the same burden and tenor – how good it would be for us to have a SmartMeter, and how it would be fitted free-of-charge; and how it will sing and dance for us to our good advantage, etc etc.

Of course nothing was mentioned about why SmartMeters are being fitted to homes; apart from a mantra that government has recommended them and is contributing to their roll out in all areas.

The old classical saying: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts applies here. When a corporate entity offers you something ‘to your advantage’ and free of charge – beware! A person gets these presumed freebies offered here and there now and then; Microsoft for some time now has been going to great pains to roll out Windows 10 free-of-charge to its Windows 7 and other versions’ users; offering a handy no-charge upgrade whenever the software for Windows updates itself on PCs etc.

(It is worth noting, if you are a person considering taking up this free-of-charge upgrade to Windows 10, that it is a package licensed for use on your current PC/Tablet only and the license to use it will expire and be unusable when/were you to try to transfer it to another, say a newer, device, to be this newer device’s Operating System. Worth considering before you decide. You in all likelihood are exchanging for the sake of having an apparently more up to date and so ostensibly better, but nonetheles a tied-in OS, a perfectly good OS and one which remains transferrable and so is inherently more flexible and more durable than is the Windows 10 you will be getting.)

Likewise to Windows 10, having a SmartMeter installed will also tie a utilitites customer into the provider companiy who supplies that customer presently. Should you decide electricity or gas is too expensive from your present provider, you will have to exchange SmartMeters so as to have one installed which is compatible with any new provider’s setups. I would suspect with some certainty that you will be charged handsomely by the exiting provider for its own SmartMeter’s removal from your premises; and possibly you will also be charged by the incoming provider for its version of a SmartMeter should you elect to have one installed from them.

Note: The Smartmeter will not be your own property, regardles whether you paid to have it installed or had it free-of-charge. You wil be paying for installation and maybe some covering costs for SmartMeter manufacture generally, marketing, maintenance etc etc; but the meter will remain the property of the utilities company. Thus were it to be damaged say by an accident in your home you will be liable to pay for another or for its repair.

Which brings me to the point that tells you that you are not able easily to have an already installed SmartMeter removed should you have decided you want to go back to how utilities were deliverd to you and managed before your free-of-charge SmartMeter was installed. It’s a one-way ticket only. Government and industry have spoken jointly; they want SmartMeters in your homes, and while a choice to have one or not to have one remains opoen to citizens at present; be sure that government and industry will have their ways and over some years they will act to do all in their very considerable powers to have you accept one into your home. For water, for gas, for electricity; and maybe more? This is the choice in democracy.

The fact that as usual the marketing pitches of the utilities companies who are wanting quite forcibly-desperately for you to have SmartMeters, is always a sanguine and a sunny set of advantages listed as being the benefits to a customer having them bundled in just one place; this tired old fact – it is the case always in advertising pitches – means that the utilities companies are hiding from you their own motivations and desires which cause them to pitch so fervently to you – have a SmartMeter! On us!!!

These advantages to the customer of SmartMeters are generally said by utilities companies to be:

  • The customer has greater control over his/her consumption of fuels etc
  • Possibly some meter accessories a customer might pre-set to his/her conveneience
  • Off peak cheaper utlitiy is more easily accessed obtainable by customer
  • No waiting-in for a meter reader person to call in quarterly etc
  • Faster fuller-data billing – itemised
  • It’s often claimed SmartMeters reduce bill sizes to customers

The biggest selling point to customers and pressed by the utilities companies because they know customers see this aspect as being the prime advantage, is always that promise of Greater Control over one’s usages and so of one’s bills. The ability to manage for oneself better; what one spends, consumes, when, etc and so reduce one’s bills.

Of course this pitch of a customer having more control is at best a half-truth. There are aspects which having a SmartMeter installed opens up which in fact tend towards lesser control for a customer, and/or else towards a greater control over customers by the utility companies. It remains the case ever that the utility companies, because they always set the tarriffs, also set all the terms and conditions for a customer being able to manipulate a SmartMeter’s workings in his/her own favour; and by this way of their terms and conditions utility companies are able to head-off every one of those potentials for customers who might else use SmartMeters well to their own advantage, and also the uitilty companies will just not offer any even reasonable facilities which they do not like or dissapprove; or else which they just see as acting to take away from those aspects which they, the utility companies, want customers to have and to make use of. This is, ‘just business’.

Whilst the utility companies are calling the shots like this on all the terms and conditions for Smart Meter usage you can be sure that all holes and all untoward customer advangtages have been plugged up firmly by them – all those they have thought of. This sort of preclusive action is standard practice amongst most corporate companies; leaving no room for any loss to their maximum lawful profit/advantage. I believe the corporations generally are cooly callously consciensiously religious about doing this sort of thing.

A customer gets as it were a new toy to play with -at least – for the great majority of SmartMeter owners – for a while until novelty wears thin and bother-fatigue kicks in and the SmartMeter is left by customers to run in a set configuration indefinitely. But the corporate utilities, who have employee-others to wear themselves down with bother-fatigue and whose employment is to weather being so worn down; will demand from their employees that these SmartMeters instaled in homes are gleaned for every piece of advantageous data about customers that they are able to supply.

(Supermarkets in the UK offer loyalty cards – as do many large chainstores with branches. Some small perks are available to those shoppers who use these loyalty cards each time they shop. A few pounds (£) perhaps over the course of half a year say. In return for their ‘loyalty’ shoppers are scrutinised electronically most particulalry; their data being gathered and procesed in great amounts so as to give stores demographics of their customer bases and much much more inside data which stores could otherwise never have obtained elsewhere and so cheaply without some such system attracive to customers such as loyalty cards. The bottom line is that loyalty cards do the stores who issue them far more benefit than they do for their shoppers. Of course loyalty cards are pitched to customers as boons and as ‘something in return for shopping with the store’; and little if anything is heard of as a thankyou for all the data your loyalty card has supplied us with; nor any great public fuss is made about what this data is and what it tells the stores. Hush hush. Trade secrets. Other stores might enjoy some advantage should we reveal anything!! One for oneself. Dog eat dog.)

Likewise SmartMeters will be able to offer utilities companies huge amounts of detailed data about customers; just as loyalty cards do for stores. None of this background is aired at all in any marketing pitches made for placing SmartMeters in the home.

But there remains the ‘public-spirited’ ‘environmental’ and at the same time highly personally arttractive pitch which says that SmartMeters will help you reduce your energy footprint – and, by the way, your bills also. You are being virtuous, doing the general public a benefit by having a SmartMeter fitted in your home; and this is a powerful prompter to have one because of the social thing; which says somewhat in bad faith, you are conscious that you are ‘helping the community’.

Of course most of the time there’s no way of telling how or whether and how much money you might have saved; how much then that you have ‘helped the environment’, if at all. Generally all of us with our money live the most part for today; and are happy to leave tomorrow’s bills to tomorrow. Few amongst us really regulate with rigour what we spend, unless when we are really straitened for cash.

The utilities companies on the other hand, again because their employees are constrained to apply the discipline demanded of them by their bosses so that their employment is retained; carfully, precisely formulate and give their orders to their employees which lay their stratagems so as to maximise money making. Thus the utilitities companies see SmartMeters as useful for dispensing with personnel who arrive on your doorstep to read your meters once every so often; personnel whose wages saved are a considerable saving to their companies when they are laid off and SmartMeters do their work electronically and at no cost.

Likewise the utilities companies obtain via placing Smartmeters in your home a more centralised and a more broad and deep grasp of control over you as customers; your needs and desires in regard to utilities. Customers who fall behind with bill payments, or who are in dispute, are more easily able to have their utilities swiftly cut off; more variant and on and off peak rates in greater subtleties can be programmed to be charged by SmartMeters than by use of old-style plain metering. This is the future – technology in the service of those who hold power so as to marshal and to keep tabs on those from whom their power derives and over whom is weilded. This again is a continuous theme of The Global Money Making Engine and its predations on commonplace private lives and families.

Finally, of course, there is no way back, in particular for SmartMeters everyone will eventually be constrained to have one installed; and generally, with the march of technology, so there wil be a firmer hold and greater grasp of control via mass data mining and surveillances, over a population which is tutored somewhat disingenuously that it is free and democratically governed. The scientists are the technocrats whose knowledge is retained to them as elites; but who are all in the pay and the pockets of the business barons; these same barons, who buy the services of the technocrats. Whenever the busines moguls see a chink, a place into which to intrude and so increase their sway, dominons, powers and wealth, they will be taking it; and in the taking they will regardlessly be diminishing your scope of life and quailty of life palpably so.

This is the drift and tenor of The Gloabal Money Making Engine. It and its adherents have no other greater goals in their visions for life; which represent a crushing and general misapprehension pressing heavily down upon us all.

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