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  • FIRST POST
    • crimson88
    • By crimson88 16th May 17, 8:09 PM
    • 8Posts
    • 1Thanks
    crimson88
    5+ year old npower debt - but it's incorrect
    • #1
    • 16th May 17, 8:09 PM
    5+ year old npower debt - but it's incorrect 16th May 17 at 8:09 PM
    Hi,

    long time lurker, first time poster here.

    In March, I received a letter from 'Past Due Credit Solutions' (PDCS) asking for £489.40 (original balance £349.57) for an npower electric bill. It didn't list the dates or anything. I called them and the advisor put in a request through npower for documentation.

    In April, I received another letter and a bill from 6 November 2012 titled 'final bill' from npower. for £349.57. They didn't include anything else, just a single bill page.

    In response, I sent a 'prove it' letter to both npower and PDCS, dated late april (I have the receipt as I sent it confirmed delivery etc). A couple days ago I got a letter from npower that said an advisor was given my complaint. Today I received this letter, here's the relevant bits:
    'I have fully investigated your account and can see that you are liable for the balance, and as you have not supplied a valid reason for why you dispute the balance the collections process will continue. One the 25th of October 2011 you contacted us to advise us that you moved in Flat 1, XXX. One the 23rd of October 2012 we were advised by the new tenant that you had left the country and they had been in the property since the 20th September 2012.

    During this period there were no payments made on the account despite numerous bills and reminder letters being sent to the address.

    When you left the property as you did not provide us with a forwarding address the final bill and the following collection letters were sent to the supply address and because no contact was made the debt was eventually sent to an external Debt Collections Agency who located your current address.

    In order to set up any payment plans you will now have to contact the Debt Collection Agency directly.

    If we do not here from you within 14 days of the date on this letter, your complaint will be considered to be resolved and closed.'

    Okay, so the problems:
    -Firstly, I am not a UK citizen. I moved into that flat to attend a graduate program. It was not, in fact, a flat but a room in a run-down house in the outskirts of Sheffield. Every room (which was only a bedroom, no water etc in it) had its own electricity and gas meter. I lived there from October to June for my program. I paid bills using paypoint as I was living mostly on cash. I never had a lease, and paid my landlady in cash. She has since died. I never filed with council tax as I was both a student and the landlady simply asked for an exemption from the university, which I gave directly to her. As I'm not a citizen, I was never on the voter registry etc.
    -The bill does say that there was an actual meter reading given 1 June 2012. I remember giving meter readings before I made payments, and I must have given that one before I requested a final bill. I did not receive a final bill before I left the UK, and can definitely believe I'd owe something like £20 for that. Being electricity only, this is literally only for my laptop being plugged in and a single lamp in my room. There was nothing else that even had a plug.
    -I was out of the country until July 2013, mostly teaching in Asia, and have lived continuously in the UK since then, with proper flats and with my name on bills (all up to date of course!) etc. So I also don't quite understand why it would have been so hard to find me.
    -They have not sent me any other bills or proof of contract.
    -I think what may have happened is that since there were 5 of us with the same address, but with different meters, my payments were not recorded correctly, and/or I've received the debt from one of my housemates. I do know that at least one of the housemates was not paying his electricity bill, as someone came round about that when I still lived there, so can believe that I could be confused with his bill.

    So, the matters at hand:
    1) Should I reply to the latest letter from npower notifying them I am making a complaint to the financial ombudsman? (which is what I assume from reading the forum I should do)
    2) I haven't received anything yet from PDCS. Should I wait to hear from them? I sent the 'prove it' letter to them also. They had previously given me a deadline of May 13 and said that they were not allowed to put a 'hold' on an account for more than 2 months. But I'm thinking that would be illegal, seeing as they haven't given me any real documentation?
    3) What can I do to show I don't owe this? I've made a payment a couple of days late here and there over the years, but never actually defaulted on anything, so this is way out of the norm for me.
    4) How far am I away from being threatened with a CCJ? I'm eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in about 2 years, and a CCJ could keep me from being able to stay in the country, so I'm a little bit scared.
    5) How long until this is statute-barred? Is that why they are pursuing this now?

    Thanks very much for your help on this matter!
Page 1
    • moneyfacts
    • By moneyfacts 16th May 17, 8:43 PM
    • 67 Posts
    • 113 Thanks
    moneyfacts
    • #2
    • 16th May 17, 8:43 PM
    • #2
    • 16th May 17, 8:43 PM
    Npower are a nightmare with billing. They were fined a record amount by the regulators because of this a few years ago.

    If there are not perfectly clear on how and why you owe the money, complain to the ombudsman, they will take this very seriously
    • crimson88
    • By crimson88 16th May 17, 9:21 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    crimson88
    • #3
    • 16th May 17, 9:21 PM
    • #3
    • 16th May 17, 9:21 PM
    thanks! I've been thinking they need to be more clear.

    having read a lot of the forum, I know npower is a nightmare, which is why I'm a bit afraid of them now!
    • sourcrates
    • By sourcrates 16th May 17, 9:36 PM
    • 11,572 Posts
    • 11,141 Thanks
    sourcrates
    • #4
    • 16th May 17, 9:36 PM
    • #4
    • 16th May 17, 9:36 PM
    Back billing is a very gray area, info here about it, do any of the reasons fit your circumstances:

    https://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/energy-back-billing/
    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Credit File And Ratings, and
    Bankruptcy And Living With It, boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge posts there.
    Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an abusive or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com.

    For free debt advice, contact either : Stepchange, National Debtline, or, CAB.
    For Legal advice see : http://legalbeagles.info/
    • crimson88
    • By crimson88 16th May 17, 9:44 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    crimson88
    • #5
    • 16th May 17, 9:44 PM
    • #5
    • 16th May 17, 9:44 PM
    perhaps? I definitely did not receive a final bill though I requested it. But more importantly, I think they may have mixed up a meter reading. It's hard for me to understand how a single room could have that much electricity used in 9 months - it's nearly twice as much as I've paid for my whole flat in the last 9 months!
    • LabRatty
    • By LabRatty 16th May 17, 9:51 PM
    • 69 Posts
    • 98 Thanks
    LabRatty
    • #6
    • 16th May 17, 9:51 PM
    • #6
    • 16th May 17, 9:51 PM
    Hi Crimson,
    You have my sympathy. I have only just received a letter from npower confirming that I have nothing to pay on an account after nearly 2 years of continuing to point out the bleeding obvious. We were sent a final bill of £604 for a property with a prepayment meter, which had no history of a debt on the meter and could only have run up a maximum of £5 in emergency credit. Their argument was that I hadn't sent them a final reading....

    Definitely go to the ombudsman, and inform empower that you are doing so and that you are unhappy with their response to date. You are also able to go back to empower and dispute their findings so far but I wouldn't bother, life's too short.
    Detail your story with as much clarity as possible, and good luck.
    All the best,
    LR
    Save In 2017 #109
    • crimson88
    • By crimson88 16th May 17, 9:56 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    crimson88
    • #7
    • 16th May 17, 9:56 PM
    • #7
    • 16th May 17, 9:56 PM
    Thanks Labratty! Should I also write to the collections people and say I'm filing with the ombudsmen? Do I need to just let the collections know that, or should I file against them too?
  • nPower
    • #8
    • 17th May 17, 8:49 AM
    • #8
    • 17th May 17, 8:49 AM
    Hi,

    long time lurker, first time poster here.

    In March, I received a letter from 'Past Due Credit Solutions' (PDCS) asking for £489.40 (original balance £349.57) for an npower electric bill. It didn't list the dates or anything. I called them and the advisor put in a request through npower for documentation.

    In April, I received another letter and a bill from 6 November 2012 titled 'final bill' from npower. for £349.57. They didn't include anything else, just a single bill page.

    In response, I sent a 'prove it' letter to both npower and PDCS, dated late april (I have the receipt as I sent it confirmed delivery etc). A couple days ago I got a letter from npower that said an advisor was given my complaint. Today I received this letter, here's the relevant bits:
    'I have fully investigated your account and can see that you are liable for the balance, and as you have not supplied a valid reason for why you dispute the balance the collections process will continue. One the 25th of October 2011 you contacted us to advise us that you moved in Flat 1, XXX. One the 23rd of October 2012 we were advised by the new tenant that you had left the country and they had been in the property since the 20th September 2012.

    During this period there were no payments made on the account despite numerous bills and reminder letters being sent to the address.

    When you left the property as you did not provide us with a forwarding address the final bill and the following collection letters were sent to the supply address and because no contact was made the debt was eventually sent to an external Debt Collections Agency who located your current address.

    In order to set up any payment plans you will now have to contact the Debt Collection Agency directly.

    If we do not here from you within 14 days of the date on this letter, your complaint will be considered to be resolved and closed.'

    Okay, so the problems:
    -Firstly, I am not a UK citizen. I moved into that flat to attend a graduate program. It was not, in fact, a flat but a room in a run-down house in the outskirts of Sheffield. Every room (which was only a bedroom, no water etc in it) had its own electricity and gas meter. I lived there from October to June for my program. I paid bills using paypoint as I was living mostly on cash. I never had a lease, and paid my landlady in cash. She has since died. I never filed with council tax as I was both a student and the landlady simply asked for an exemption from the university, which I gave directly to her. As I'm not a citizen, I was never on the voter registry etc.
    -The bill does say that there was an actual meter reading given 1 June 2012. I remember giving meter readings before I made payments, and I must have given that one before I requested a final bill. I did not receive a final bill before I left the UK, and can definitely believe I'd owe something like £20 for that. Being electricity only, this is literally only for my laptop being plugged in and a single lamp in my room. There was nothing else that even had a plug.
    -I was out of the country until July 2013, mostly teaching in Asia, and have lived continuously in the UK since then, with proper flats and with my name on bills (all up to date of course!) etc. So I also don't quite understand why it would have been so hard to find me.
    -They have not sent me any other bills or proof of contract.
    -I think what may have happened is that since there were 5 of us with the same address, but with different meters, my payments were not recorded correctly, and/or I've received the debt from one of my housemates. I do know that at least one of the housemates was not paying his electricity bill, as someone came round about that when I still lived there, so can believe that I could be confused with his bill.

    So, the matters at hand:
    1) Should I reply to the latest letter from npower notifying them I am making a complaint to the financial ombudsman? (which is what I assume from reading the forum I should do)
    2) I haven't received anything yet from PDCS. Should I wait to hear from them? I sent the 'prove it' letter to them also. They had previously given me a deadline of May 13 and said that they were not allowed to put a 'hold' on an account for more than 2 months. But I'm thinking that would be illegal, seeing as they haven't given me any real documentation?
    3) What can I do to show I don't owe this? I've made a payment a couple of days late here and there over the years, but never actually defaulted on anything, so this is way out of the norm for me.
    4) How far am I away from being threatened with a CCJ? I'm eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in about 2 years, and a CCJ could keep me from being able to stay in the country, so I'm a little bit scared.
    5) How long until this is statute-barred? Is that why they are pursuing this now?

    Thanks very much for your help on this matter!
    Originally posted by crimson88


    Hi crimson88

    Thank you for posting and I'm sorry to hear of your experience. I will be happy to take a look at this if you would like to send me an email (using the address from my profile) with your account details.

    Thanks

    Vicky
    Official Company Representative"
    I am the official company representative of nPower. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE.
    If we ask you to contact us, please do so using helpandsupport@npower.com - MSE Forum has temporarily allowed the display of our contact details in our signature due to a technical issue with our profile
    • crimson88
    • By crimson88 17th May 17, 8:54 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    crimson88
    • #9
    • 17th May 17, 8:54 PM
    • #9
    • 17th May 17, 8:54 PM
    Hi Vicky

    Not sure what worth it would be to talk to an npower rep at this point? Like, if the company is being completely negligent and unreasonable, the ombudsman seems the correct route, not listening to off-hand threats.

    //
    Thanks to everyone else for the advice! Is there a good sample letter for ombudsman complaints?
    • LabRatty
    • By LabRatty 18th May 17, 11:01 AM
    • 69 Posts
    • 98 Thanks
    LabRatty
    Hi Crimson
    Googling 'utilities complaints ombudsman' supplies the following info:
    https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/complain-about-your-gas-or-electricity-bill-or-supplier
    Can't advise you more specifically as if's not a field in which I have expertise, but personally I would inform the collections people so they know you're taking advice rather than putting your head in the sand.
    LR
    Save In 2017 #109
    • anniecave
    • By anniecave 18th May 17, 12:04 PM
    • 2,140 Posts
    • 683 Thanks
    anniecave
    I would give the details to the npower rep on this forum. Whether you make a complaint via the ombudsman or contact them via this forum, either way you still need them to investigate your complaint.

    I used to work in query resolution for an energy provider, and from your post I can immediately see of 3 or 4 possible things that might have gone wrong, and the npower rep will be able to check into those possible options for you.

    In my experience npower are no better or worse at getting queries resolved than other providers, and you have given lots of good information there as a starting point. If the npower rep can't help, or doesn't give you a meaningful response, then I would by all means complain to the ombudsman as a follow on next step.

    I wouldn't engage directly with a debt collector apart from telling them its in dispute and you are are dealing directly with npower or the ombudsman.
    Indecision is the key to flexibility.
    • crimson88
    • By crimson88 18th May 17, 11:13 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    crimson88
    thanks annie and labratty! I really, really want to resolve this but am also extremely frustrated. very much appreciate the advice.
    • crimson88
    • By crimson88 17th Jun 17, 1:06 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    crimson88
    So a followup (particularly to anniecave!)

    npower immediately told me I hadn't given them grounds to investigate. I had, 3 different ones, and they refused. they also refused to send me a bill (i *still* haven't seen a full bill!). I did end up doing some of this via email, and told them last week I would file with the ombudsman.

    then today, after not hearing from them for 2 months whilst i deal with npower, i get another demanding letter from the debt collections agency - and the amount has gone up! the letter says they 'may recommend taking action in court' to npower.
    But, npower can't do that whilst I've got a claim in with the ombudsman, right?
    • glasgowm148
    • By glasgowm148 18th Jun 17, 7:50 PM
    • 144 Posts
    • 195 Thanks
    glasgowm148
    nPower are a horrible company to deal with, when I moved out they hit me with a £1k+ bill for a 2bed flat. This is ontop of the £50 I was paying a month.

    Only advice I can give is to avoid nPower. After years of fighting them I'm just paying it now.
    Capital One - 950/1400
    Barclay Card - 280/1250
    Overdraft - 1800/2100
    Personal Debt - 45/2000
    nPower - 960/1115
    Total - 4065/7900 -- 50% paid off!
    • crimson88
    • By crimson88 12th Jul 17, 8:40 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    crimson88
    so update, as I know many other people have massive issues with npower too - the Ombudsman is investigating the case. we'll see how it goes!
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