This article is about a case of policy failure and negative lesson drawing, namely the implementation of a mandatory smart metering programme – the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Program – in the State of Victoria, Australia, in the period 2009–2013. The article explores the framing of policy failure, and the ways in which failed polices might be mobile. The Advanced Metering Infrastructure Program provides an important empirical counterbalance to existing scholarship on policy learning, transfer and mobility, which is for the most part about positive best practice case studies, emulation and the travelling of ‘fast’ and (by implication) successful policy. There is evidence that the Victorian Advanced Metering Infrastructure Program circulated domestically within Australia and was influential in policy decision making, but that its international mobility was limited. The case is used to explore what gets left behind – or is immobile – in the telling of policy stories about failure. Science and Technology Studies scholarship on the inherent fragility of sociotechnical networks is drawn upon to consider how the concept of assemblage – a popular conceptual lens within policy mobility scholarship – might be applied to better understand instances of policy failure.