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  • FIRST POST
    • angelin77
    • By angelin77 11th Oct 16, 1:23 PM
    • 23Posts
    • 7Thanks
    angelin77
    Ofgem and the Ombudsman
    • #1
    • 11th Oct 16, 1:23 PM
    Ofgem and the Ombudsman 11th Oct 16 at 1:23 PM
    Hi
    New to site.
    Ofgem is the authorising body for the energy Ombudman to carry out ADR (alternative Dispute Resolution). Has anyone had a complaint handled by the Ombudsman only to experience (in their own opinion) that the service they received was not as good as they had expected? Bearing in mind that the process allows no further appeal or comeback after the Final Decision is given. If this process has not addressed important issues (in my case Npower failed to implement the correct process for installing prepayment meter),has anyone succeeded in getting any investigation into poor service by the Ombudsman who are a private run company?
Page 1
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 11th Oct 16, 1:37 PM
    • 26,059 Posts
    • 12,529 Thanks
    Cardew
    • #2
    • 11th Oct 16, 1:37 PM
    • #2
    • 11th Oct 16, 1:37 PM
    Welcome to the forum.

    There are scores of posts on MSE from people who have submitted a complaint to the Ombudsman. I think it is fair to say that people are generally unhappy with the service they receive. A complaint submitted to the ombudsman after a dispute lasting months and many hours on the phone/emails will get an award of perhaps £50 or if you are very lucky £100. In the couple of cases I have been involved with, the agent seemed disinterested and made no attempt to delve into the case - just get £50 compensation and move on!!

    If you want to find these posts search for 'ombudsman and wade through the threads.
    • dogshome
    • By dogshome 11th Oct 16, 2:35 PM
    • 2,655 Posts
    • 1,331 Thanks
    dogshome
    • #3
    • 11th Oct 16, 2:35 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Oct 16, 2:35 PM
    Do not under estimate the power of the Energy Industries lobby in Westminster

    Privatisation brought two Govt Agencies into being:
    Ofgem - The operating licence issuer, rulemaker and advisor to the industry, and supposedly working in hand with them were Energywatch, charged specifically to deal with customer complaints.

    Problem for the industry was that Energywatch had been given a set of sharp teeth, and were not afraid to use them
    Surprise, surprise, Energywatch was closed down and another Govt. Agency took over the role, who even more surpisingly, also had teeth and bit some industry bums

    Then Govt. Agency No.2 is also closed down and Govt. Agency No.3,
    Consumer Focus is born, however CP is a poor wee thing, lacks teeth, needs propping up by the Citizens Advice Bureau and eventually fades into oblivion, leaving CAB to do the best it can with volunteer staff

    Meanwhile waiting in the wings, (Sound Triumphal Fanfare) is the 'Omudsman' Which is the title of a State funded office in Scandinavia which really does have the power investigate Govt Depts and Local Authorities on behalf of the citizenry without fear or favour

    Our Ombudsman is a rather different kettle of fish - For a start it not State funded, it's a Company with a profit and loss balance sheet and it's primary duty is to it's shareholders, (why is it that at this moment I have the letters BHS running through my mind ?).
    Firms within a common industry,( It's not just Utility Co's) pay a joining fee to for the service of having the Ombudman look at and adjudicate on customer complaints, and a further charge for each complaint they handle.

    With balance sheet being the foremost thing in the Ombudsman's in mind, this office is unlikely to hand down the thrashing some Energy suppliers deserve - The usual customer compensation figure is around £40 for the grief and worry a customer has had to endure

    Lastly, it's a company with an upfront joining fee, so if the company you are haveing problems with hasn't joined, the answer you'll get from the Ombudsman follows the line of the current Dirct Line TV Ad
    "On yer bike"
    • angelin77
    • By angelin77 11th Oct 16, 3:38 PM
    • 23 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    angelin77
    • #4
    • 11th Oct 16, 3:38 PM
    • #4
    • 11th Oct 16, 3:38 PM
    Thanks for the welcome
    My complaint is more complicated than I have very breifly stated. I inherited a small property and rented it out. I live 330 miles away and had problems with tenant. Had to go to OS at beginning of tenancy as Npower messed up transfer of account to tenant. This took months to sort out ending up with tenant owing large amount. I told her to keep paying Npower a set monthly amount until it was sorted but she did not and blamed me for Npower's mess.
    When tenant vacated I informed Npower of meter readings, that house would remain unoccupied (I had sold). they had all my details as I held the account prior to tenant. Unbeknown to me Npower set up an account in a 'false name' although I only visited the house a couple of times there was no mail ever received from Npower until a further visit when I noticed a bill had been delivered in this false name. Despite contacting Npower it was too late as a week later upon my visit to check the property I was just in time to catch a MeterPlus engineer just leaving after having installed an external prepayment meter. I explained who I was and he contacted his office. It was only then the account was put in my name but they still tried to get me to pay the accumulated penalty charges. The engineer replaced the original meter and left. Unfortunately he had blocked the meter with a disc to prevent use as air had been introduced effectively cutting off the gas supply. I had to arrange for the system to be drained (it was mid winter) and although I had arranged to live in the property as the sale completion date was imminent , I had to go and stay with relatives. I'm a pensioner in poor health so I could not stay in an unheated house. Npower should have followed a procedure. I believe they have to offer payment plans, assess your circumstances, and go to court to obtain permission to install prepayment meter. This has recently been stated to me by an Npower rep. A week after this engineer arrived I received the warning letter threatening to install pp meter or disconnection.I obviously contacted Npower several times to complain and try to get them to re-commission the heating system but they failed to do anything. As the system was still down when te house sale was completed I had to pay the new owner's plumber the £200 it cost to have the system commissioned. There's more to the story but just to say I went through the OS ADR procedure, I presented comprehensive written evidence, including emails from Npower Exec. Complaints I received shortly after I had started complaint with OS, which confirmed my suspicions that it was the tenant who had given the false info. I must have upset the OS investigating officer who had sent three emails within the hour containing three versions of his provisional decision (full of factual errors, dates about when things happened which were in the future) by trying to correct his mistakes. His Final Decision was based on his accusation that I had phoned Npower and given them the false information. contacted Npower and they sent me a written confirmation that they had informed te OS tat it was te tenant who had provided the false info. His final decision was also full of the same errors I had proved were incorrect.
    Seems legal action is only way forward now.
    By the way, Npower had grossly overestimated the gas/elect use and calculated several hundred pounds owing. The actual amount used was £67 of which £60 was standing charges.
    • WhoIsThat
    • By WhoIsThat 11th Oct 16, 9:13 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 10 Thanks
    WhoIsThat
    • #5
    • 11th Oct 16, 9:13 PM
    • #5
    • 11th Oct 16, 9:13 PM
    Hi
    New to site.
    Ofgem is the authorising body for the energy Ombudman to carry out ADR (alternative Dispute Resolution). Has anyone had a complaint handled by the Ombudsman only to experience (in their own opinion) that the service they received was not as good as they had expected? Bearing in mind that the process allows no further appeal or comeback after the Final Decision is given. If this process has not addressed important issues (in my case Npower failed to implement the correct process for installing prepayment meter),has anyone succeeded in getting any investigation into poor service by the Ombudsman who are a private run company?
    Originally posted by angelin77
    You may wish to re-check some of your assertions.

    Whilst the ombudman service is set up as a private company, it is a private company limited by guarantee and has no share capital.

    They were founded in 2002 to provide independent dispute resolution. They operate under appropriate legislation and regulatory authority and their governance ensures that they are independent.

    The Ombudsman Service Ltd is a not for profit organisation, limited by guarantee. This means that they do not have shareholders and do not pay dividends. They can make a surplus but with no dividends to distribute, this surplus is used for two specific purposes: to provide sufficient reserves to ensure the company can continue operating against a background of variability of income; and to invest back into the business to further its aims of independent redress.

    You ask readers to bear in mind that "the process allows no further appeal or comeback after the Final Decision is given."

    That is incorrect. The ombudsmnan service ain't no Judge Judy! The decision certainly is not final (as far as the consumer is concerned)
    You as the consumer are asked whether or not you wish to accept the decision. That is a decision entirely in your hands. If you accept, then the supplier must complay with that decision. You acceptance will be dependent on you agreeing it is in full and final settlement.

    However if you reject the decision of the ombudman, which you are entirely at liberty to do, then the matter will go no further. You are free to progress any other avenue you wish (which typically would then be legal action against the supplier)

    You can complain about the level of service received from the ombudman service, but you cannot complain about the decision the ombudsman has suggested in your particular complaint. You seem to already know that in many cases the ombudman does not actually decide on proposed resolutions, but rather case handlers do in the first instance, the majority of which are accepted by the complainants.
    Complaints only escalate to the ombudsman himself if you do not agree with the proposed resolution of the case handler (and you wish to escalate the matter); that is essentially the complaint process to deal with the proposed resolution
    It is correct that once the matter has been reviewed by the ombudsman himself, then there is no more appeal process the ombusman service can assist you with regarding the complaint itself. It is still up to you to decide whether or not to accept that proposed resolution.
    Last edited by WhoIsThat; 11-10-2016 at 9:26 PM.
    • angelin77
    • By angelin77 12th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    • 23 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    angelin77
    • #6
    • 12th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    • #6
    • 12th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    Hi
    Many thanks for your input.
    Whilst I know that I have several alternative actions to follow regardless of te Ombudsman route (small claims , media.etc, trading standards, citizen's advice for example) I made that comment based on what the emails from the OS has stated. At the end of July I received three emails all variations, which started with 'This letter sets out our decision......
    If you accept our decision.......
    It then goes on to explain that I have to show material differences in the facts or present new evidence ....for them to reconsider this decision. This seems to be the only opportunity to dispute their 'facts' or present new evidence (and explain why it was not previously available) I did dispute their 'facts' and sent further copies of evidence to show it in black and white. To give an example: the award part of the decision was based on a final bill which the OS claimed had the accurate meter reading figures I had provided. This final bill (the only final bill I have received) contained and stated the readings were estimates. This bill was also made up of the penalty figures from the 'false' account. When Npower realised I had gone to the OS they offered to drop these penalty charges as a gesture of goodwill. They then offered to zero the amount owing (still didn't cover the plumber's bill) The fact they where introduced on my bill in Npower's error is another matter.
    The OS then stated that Npower had offered to wipe out the final bill AND also the extra penalty charges. The final bill was grossly inaccurate as the amount owing was based on estimated readings and also contained the penalty charges. So the OS were using much higher sums than was actually owed to base their 'award' on which was pathetically low anyway.
    The OS sent three of these 'decision' emails all differently worded all with errors similar to what I have just stated.
    I also used the 'unhappy with our service' form to express my concerns about the poor standards, mainly attention to detail. This was acknowledges and I was informed that a response would be sent by a certain date which allowed then ten days. This was at the end of July and I'm still waiting.
    A few days ago I prompted them via email for timescales for responses to both complaints
    I received their Final Decision a few days later. It basically contained the same 'facts' as before, no errors corrected. It also stated that npower had the OS that I had called them and it was I who had passed their security and given them the false information. A complete lie. I had NEVER contacted Npower by phone. The OS have Npower emails all stating that it was the tenant that supplied this false info.I also checked with Npower as I knew it was not me and Npower have confirmed that they told the OS that it was the tenant and provided the date she informed them. She was the only person who had the security password. Even when I held the account previously I had never arranged with Npower and security password.
    All these Final Decision notifications are signed by an investigator, not an ombudsman.
    I have rejected this decision as it is based on incorrect information.
    Are you now saying that as I have rejected/disputed this final decision that an ombudsman will now look at it? Or have I misunderstood you.
    • stevegrass777
    • By stevegrass777 12th Oct 16, 7:23 PM
    • 50 Posts
    • 19 Thanks
    stevegrass777
    • #7
    • 12th Oct 16, 7:23 PM
    • #7
    • 12th Oct 16, 7:23 PM
    I found them very toothless with npower,I wish I had just done a sar request and get a no win no fee solicitor as it would probably be quicker.
    Npower lie one after the other to the ombudsman and they just believe it half the time and even when they have been caught out,npower seem to get away with it very lightly.
    Npower even post dated a letter by 2 months so as to appear they had obeyed the ombudsman ruling,and npowers envelope has no date mark on,very crafty.
    I don't even believe the media hype on the fine that npower got off ofgem,26 million was it? But they didn't have to hand it over to ofgem,well what kind of fine is that?
    So they leave the fine money with the company that has been found out to be outstandingly bad and deceptive to dish out to the worst affected customers!!!
    I have not herd of one customer who got this money!!
    It's slight of hand if you ask me,every ordinary person I know who has had a fine has to pay the governing body who issues the fine!
    And they dish the money out,why would you let the incompetent company deal with it!
    • LewisHamilton
    • By LewisHamilton 12th Oct 16, 11:20 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 21 Thanks
    LewisHamilton
    • #8
    • 12th Oct 16, 11:20 PM
    • #8
    • 12th Oct 16, 11:20 PM
    I know three people that received £170 or £190 as a direct result of Ofgem's ruling (can't remember the exact figure).
    • welshmoneylover
    • By welshmoneylover 12th Oct 16, 11:42 PM
    • 2,654 Posts
    • 3,532 Thanks
    welshmoneylover
    • #9
    • 12th Oct 16, 11:42 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Oct 16, 11:42 PM
    Thanks for the welcome
    My complaint is more complicated than I have very breifly stated. I inherited a small property and rented it out. I live 330 miles away and had problems with tenant. Had to go to OS at beginning of tenancy as Npower messed up transfer of account to tenant. This took months to sort out ending up with tenant owing large amount. I told her to keep paying Npower a set monthly amount until it was sorted but she did not and blamed me for Npower's mess.
    When tenant vacated I informed Npower of meter readings, that house would remain unoccupied (I had sold). they had all my details as I held the account prior to tenant. Unbeknown to me Npower set up an account in a 'false name' although I only visited the house a couple of times there was no mail ever received from Npower until a further visit when I noticed a bill had been delivered in this false name. Despite contacting Npower it was too late as a week later upon my visit to check the property I was just in time to catch a MeterPlus engineer just leaving after having installed an external prepayment meter. I explained who I was and he contacted his office. It was only then the account was put in my name but they still tried to get me to pay the accumulated penalty charges. The engineer replaced the original meter and left. Unfortunately he had blocked the meter with a disc to prevent use as air had been introduced effectively cutting off the gas supply. I had to arrange for the system to be drained (it was mid winter) and although I had arranged to live in the property as the sale completion date was imminent , I had to go and stay with relatives. I'm a pensioner in poor health so I could not stay in an unheated house. Npower should have followed a procedure. I believe they have to offer payment plans, assess your circumstances, and go to court to obtain permission to install prepayment meter. This has recently been stated to me by an Npower rep. A week after this engineer arrived I received the warning letter threatening to install pp meter or disconnection.I obviously contacted Npower several times to complain and try to get them to re-commission the heating system but they failed to do anything. As the system was still down when te house sale was completed I had to pay the new owner's plumber the £200 it cost to have the system commissioned. There's more to the story but just to say I went through the OS ADR procedure, I presented comprehensive written evidence, including emails from Npower Exec. Complaints I received shortly after I had started complaint with OS, which confirmed my suspicions that it was the tenant who had given the false info. I must have upset the OS investigating officer who had sent three emails within the hour containing three versions of his provisional decision (full of factual errors, dates about when things happened which were in the future) by trying to correct his mistakes. His Final Decision was based on his accusation that I had phoned Npower and given them the false information. contacted Npower and they sent me a written confirmation that they had informed te OS tat it was te tenant who had provided the false info. His final decision was also full of the same errors I had proved were incorrect.
    Seems legal action is only way forward now.
    By the way, Npower had grossly overestimated the gas/elect use and calculated several hundred pounds owing. The actual amount used was £67 of which £60 was standing charges.
    Originally posted by angelin77
    You could have avoided all this unnecessary action by Npower by correctly registering with them once the tenant left and gave them your address for correspondence.

    Sounds to me they had sent many letters and bills to the address and you were either not aware of them or you ignored them.

    Either way, N power are not in the wrong and they followed company procedure with regard to non payment of bills.
    Good on the Tories
    • angelin77
    • By angelin77 13th Oct 16, 8:31 AM
    • 23 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    angelin77
    Hi
    Thanks for your input
    I did contact Npower and sent them a copy of the note the tenant left stating the meter readings (which I confirmed) when the tenant vacated. I confirmed I had taken back the property and little energy would be used as the property would be unoccupied as I lived 330 miles away. Both Npower and the Ombudsman have stated that Npower received this. Also when I realised the situation and contacted Npower they quoted my account number, different to the one of the 'false account' . Npower have also admitted and I have this in writing that their process is to visit, find out customer's circumstances, offer payment plans and last resort, apply to the court for permission to install prepayment meter. In other words, Npower are saying the correct process was not adhered to.
    • angelin77
    • By angelin77 13th Oct 16, 9:00 AM
    • 23 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    angelin77
    I should add that the surname used on this 'false' account was the same as the tenants,
    I think it is entirely possible that any correspondence Npower sent could have been redirected by the Post Office. The tenant had members of her family stay at the property frequently. No mail was delivered addressed in the tenant's surname, so I assume, like most people who change address, she had the mail redirected.
    I don't know the extent to which energy companies check out their new customers but solely taking a random name that an outgoing tenant gives and creating an account without any further checking should be concerning. If the circumstances are that no one applies to take over the supply the energy company should address any correspondence to 'The Present Occupier' to avoid situations occurring such as mine. However as I've pointed out, Npower admit they received the contact from me within a couple of days of the tenant moving out. They also had my details as landlord on their system.
    • cing0
    • By cing0 15th Oct 16, 4:45 PM
    • 407 Posts
    • 107 Thanks
    cing0
    I know three people that received £170 or £190 as a direct result of Ofgem's ruling (can't remember the exact figure).
    Originally posted by LewisHamilton
    Received £170 cheque and then one for £180.00 when Ofgem had to get involved. http://www.npower.com/home/customer/index.htm#tab-4
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