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NPOWER - PrePayment Meters
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# 1
monkeymagic1971
Old 06-06-2008, 9:56 AM
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Default NPOWER - PrePayment Meters

I am hoping someone can provide me with some much needed advice, although there is a lot of info I will try to keep as brief as possible.

I left my previous property on 12/10/2007 where I had a prepayment electricity meter, taking vouchers from the post office. When I left the property I gave in my final meter reading and was not told my account was now settled.

However, on the 25/05/2008 I have received a bill saying I owe £70, this was not itemised and came in the form of a reminder demand. NB this was my first notification.

I have been told,
  • My prepayment meter was not on the corect tarriff, this seems to be the case for a number of other NPower customers
  • The Ombudsman has informed NPower the most they can ask for is £70 and all monies over this must be waived
  • They have 12 months grace to notify excustomer of this debt for it to remain collectable
I contacted NPower and stated I am unwilling to pay a debt which has 'come out of the blue' without it being itemised. I have been told I need to write in to get an itemised bill as one isn't provided as the 'norm' and I am not allowed to phone this section direct. However I feel their has been a failure on NPowers part as I have been able to determine
  • The last time my meter tariff was updated was 06/06/2006, a full 17 months before I left the property and in my eyes NPower had the time and responsibility to update my meter so an underpayment didn't occur
  • It has been 8 months since I left the property and at no time has this been brought to my attention, over 2 years since it was last updated
  • I have seen no evidence to support the ombudsmans decision
I have today received a letter stating I have 10 days to make payment or they may start court proceedings to claw back the money.

Given this circumtance I am hoping other users may be able to advise whether
  • I have a case to make complaint on NPowers handling of my affairs
  • Chances of having the £70 written off
  • Anyone else who has found themselves in this predicament
Fingers crossed you will be able to help, should more information be required let me know,

Cheers
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# 2
monkeymagic1971
Old 07-06-2008, 12:20 PM
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oh dear, maybe I'm the only one in this predicament
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# 3
SPANIEL36
Old 07-06-2008, 12:23 PM
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please be patient, people will be along to help maybe later as it is the weekend and most people will be busy. evenng time is the best so give it a bump later
hope you get it sorted

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# 4
energyworries
Old 07-06-2008, 12:32 PM
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I'd tell npower that you know they are at it and you are going to energywatch explain you know they have the worst record in the industry for service and complaints and are the only company doing this now.
the way I see it its npowers RESPONSOBILITY to update the meter not yours and why should you pay for there mistake?.

personally I wouldnt go near npower if you paid me they really are crap.

and tell the next advisor monkey you speak to the only reason your asking me to write in is so you can say you never got my letter and harrass me even more.

ask for a manager and tell the advisor if you are on hold for more than 3 minutes you will be going to energywatch if you are disconnected you will be going to energywatch when you speak to the manager if you are not put through to that department you will take this to energywatch as you feel npower are being obstructive and are delibrately making it difficult for you to resolve this problem.

basically threaten them with energywatch at every turn. that should sort them out (worked 3 years ago for me).
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# 5
Premier
Old 07-06-2008, 1:23 PM
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Prepayment meters are not vending machines. There can be a number of valid reasons why there is an outstanding debt now e.g. the price per unit charged by the meter has not been updated following recent price rises

I think you understand this - if not please ask and more reasons/explanation can be provided.

I think your issue here is that you have recieved a bill that does not itemise how the bill was generated - it just says you owe them £xxx

Irrespective of what you have been informed by nPower, I suspect they have actually produced an itemised bill because you are certainly entitled to one. I would imagine the situation here is that the initial itemised bill has somehow been lost; perhaps it was sent to the supply address in error or because the company did not have your new adddres, or perhaps it was simply lost in the post.

It is quite common for companies to not issue the details on a reminder, just state the amount owed and I believe this is what you received 25-May-2008.

To address your 3 points:
My prepayment meter was not on the corect tarriff, this seems to be the case for a number of other NPower customers
- this is probably the reason for the debt now. I can't comment on other customers, but as I said, a pre-payment meter is not a vending machine. Depending on the actual type of pre-payment meter, the recent price increases could be a contributing factor. Whatever the meter unit rates were, you owe the amount that you have consumed based on consumption, not on what the meter charged you.

The Ombudsman has informed NPower the most they can ask for is £70 and all monies over this must be waived
I do not know anything about this, so am unable to comment. Perhaps another MSE member may be able to help.

They have 12 months grace to notify excustomer of this debt for it to remain collectable
Not quite. They cannot bill you for amounts left unbilled for 12 months. They have billed you. They will take any action necessary to collect the debt billed.

So back to the bill. As I mentioned previously, you have the right to request an itemised bill detailing the breakdown of the debt. You were advised to write in to request this. Have you?

Whether you have or whether you haven't, I suggest you start talking with nPower now! Explain that you are willing to pay as soon as you have the detail. Ask if they can put a temporary hold on recovery action so that you have time to obtain the cost breakdown from them and, if necessary, get the money together that you owe them. If absolutely necessary, even try to negotiate stage payments to pay off the debt.

Whatever you manage to negotiate, make sure you stick to it. The way NPower will see this is that the debt has been outstanding for about 8 months already, assuming the (lost) final bill was issued promptly; they won't be happy to be messed around further.

Last edited by Premier; 07-06-2008 at 1:26 PM.
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# 6
Incisor
Old 07-06-2008, 2:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeymagic1971 View Post
I am hoping someone can provide me with some much needed advice, although there is a lot of info I will try to keep as brief as possible.

I left my previous property on 12/10/2007 where I had a prepayment electricity meter, taking vouchers from the post office. When I left the property I gave in my final meter reading and was not told my account was now settled.


However, on the 25/05/2008 I have received a bill saying I owe £70, this was not itemised and came in the form of a reminder demand. NB this was my first notification.

I have been told,
  • My prepayment meter was not on the corect tarriff, this seems to be the case for a number of other NPower customers
  • The Ombudsman has informed NPower the most they can ask for is £70 and all monies over this must be waived
  • They have 12 months grace to notify excustomer of this debt for it to remain collectable
I contacted NPower and stated I am unwilling to pay a debt which has 'come out of the blue' without it being itemised. I have been told I need to write in to get an itemised bill as one isn't provided as the 'norm' and I am not allowed to phone this section direct. However I feel their has been a failure on NPowers part as I have been able to determine
  • The last time my meter tariff was updated was 06/06/2006, a full 17 months before I left the property and in my eyes NPower had the time and responsibility to update my meter so an underpayment didn't occur
  • It has been 8 months since I left the property and at no time has this been brought to my attention, over 2 years since it was last updated
  • I have seen no evidence to support the ombudsmans decision
I have today received a letter stating I have 10 days to make payment or they may start court proceedings to claw back the money.

Given this circumtance I am hoping other users may be able to advise whether
  • I have a case to make complaint on NPowers handling of my affairs
  • Chances of having the £70 written off
  • Anyone else who has found themselves in this predicament
Fingers crossed you will be able to help, should more information be required let me know,

Cheers
You are doing fine. It should be no skin off your nose to write in and request an itemised bill, because now they have used the word 'court', you need to have good records. Write and state that you have never received an itemised bill and request this from them. Then tell them that if they take it to court you do not expect them to present any evidence that they have not already made available.

If you are lucky, they will be too lazy to produce a bill if all they can get back is £70. But if they decide to take the matter to court without giving you the information, they will usually have a solicitor review the case, who will realise that they are going to end up looking stupid in court. Basically, a company might get away with billing an individual without justifying the charges, but a court is very likely to take the consumer's side if the bill is not fully justifiable.

I disagree with Premier about talking with them, as they have now mentioned 'court', but I'm with Premier insofar as in your letter you should state that you are willing to pay what you owe, but this may need to be by installments, because through no fault of your own, this bill comes as a surprise.

No more telephoning on this one, do it in writing, keeps copies and send recorded delivery. Stay calm, don't get tempted to rant at them, else it will appear on their own records and they may rate their chances in court as being quite good.
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# 7
Premier
Old 07-06-2008, 2:31 PM
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Whilst I agree that it is easier to prove at a later date things recorded in writing, I often find it easier and certainly quicker to negotiate a solution when speaking with someone directly rather than putting offers and counter offers in writing that could be considered by a creditor as a time delaying tactic.

Don't forget that any agreement reached verbally can always be put in writing immediately afterwards if you want to be sure of a record

Last edited by Premier; 07-06-2008 at 2:34 PM.
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# 8
Incisor
Old 07-06-2008, 3:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Premier View Post
Whilst I agree that it is easier to prove at a later date things recorded in writing, I often find it easier and certainly quicker to negotiate a solution when speaking with someone directly rather than putting offers and counter offers in writing that could be considered by a creditor as a time delaying tactic.

Don't forget that any agreement reached verbally can always be put in writing immediately afterwards if you want to be sure of a record
Agree. In general. But things change once the word 'court' is mentioned. I think everyone should adopt the principle of going into writing at this point. It is more effort for these companies to deal with correspondence, so if everyone goes to correspondence at this point, it will be counterproductive for them to mention 'court' too early. Once they mention it, you are entitled to believe them.

As for delaying tactics, sure, it could be considered that way, but if you make a reasonable offer in the first place, then it's neither here nor there.
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# 9
Premier
Old 07-06-2008, 3:38 PM
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Good luck with your crusade against the use of the word 'court' but here I have to disagree.

Even when you have receipt of a summons from a court and an associated hearing date is subsequently set, the plaintiff and defendant are still often encouraged by the judge to attempt to settle the matter mutually before the actual court hearing. If either party fails to act in a co-operative manner, whilst it may or may not ultimately affect the outcome of the case, the judge may take such non co-operation into account when making his judgement.

As for a debtor making a reasonable offer, if someone owed you £100 for 8 months, what you you consider a reasonable offer would be in settlement?
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# 10
Incisor
Old 07-06-2008, 5:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Premier View Post
... Even when you have receipt of a summons from a court and an associated hearing date is subsequently set, the plaintiff and defendant are still often encouraged by the judge to attempt to settle the matter mutually before the actual court hearing. If either party fails to act in a co-operative manner, whilst it may or may not ultimately affect the outcome of the case, the judge may take such non co-operation into account when making his judgement.
Agree. I would just do it in writing. That is not uncooperative, certainly against ringing an 0870 number.

Quote:
As for a debtor making a reasonable offer, if someone owed you £100 for 8 months, what you you consider a reasonable offer would be in settlement?
The 8 months delay is down to nPower. If they really wanted their money quickly, the remedy was in their hands. As the debt mounted over a period of about 16 months, I would say that is a reasonable period over which to recover it, if the OP is struggling. £10/month is a good offer
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# 11
Premier
Old 07-06-2008, 5:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Incisor View Post
...I would say that is a reasonable period over which to recover it, if the OP is struggling. £10/month is a good offer
Great, lend us £100 will ya?

You'll get it back £10 per month for 10 months starting in 8 months time!

(There you go, you've even got the terms of the deal in writing!)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Incisor
Agree. I would just do it in writing. That is not uncooperative, certainly against ringing an 0870 number.
NPower don't use an 0870 customer services number that I know of.

Why not use 0800 551555 and not pressing any of the menu options - you'll get through to NPower customer Services and they'll even pay for the call.

Last edited by Premier; 07-06-2008 at 6:00 PM.
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# 12
monkeymagic1971
Old 07-06-2008, 6:07 PM
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thanks for this,

However to raise an original point the reason for the debt is the meter was not kept up to date by Npower. They last time they arranged for the meter to be updated was June 2006. Surely they have a responsibility to keep this up to date? At no stage did they request access to update or advise me when I left the property there may be an oustanding amount. I was in the property for a further 16 months after the last update and before leaving the property and I feel it is their fault they did not make sure the meter was updated.

To cover other points rasied I was told the bill was issued 8 months after I left the property as the ombudsmen advised NPower they had to make sure each bill sent out was correct. So this is the reason why it has just been received and not because they didn't know where I was or that I have delayed payment. Out of interest if notification of a bill is not recieved wihin 12 months does this mean any monies from June 2006 to May 2007 will no be payable as the 12 month period would be May 2007 to May 2008 as the bill date?

However is the consensus I will have to pay? If so and others feel NPower are not to blame for self creating this debt there seems little point in taking this matter further with them and I might as well just pay.

Thoughts?
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# 13
Incisor
Old 07-06-2008, 6:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Premier View Post
Great, lend us £100 will ya?

You'll get it back £10 per month for 10 months starting in 8 months time!

(There you go, you've even got the terms of the deal in writing!)
I'm not stoopid enough to sell you electricity and let your account fall into arrears. While it's good for nPower, that it because they are stoopid. Rnaking me as being as stoopid as them is flamebait.
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# 14
monkeymagic1971
Old 09-06-2008, 6:48 PM
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thanks for input so far, is anyone able to help with my last post
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# 15
SwanJon
Old 09-06-2008, 9:07 PM
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There are a few threads around there on this, and the ned result is that the supplier can enforce the recovery of this amount legally.
Morally the case is less certain.
[Devils Advocate]
Can you prove that they didn't come round to correct the price on the meter but couldn't get in?
When they sent you notice of the price increase did you arrange for them to correct your meter?
[/devils advocate]
As above, I would ask for a bill with dates and meter reads (Did you take a reading when you moved out? Did you give them this reading when you told them you were moving out?) Just in case the difference was less than £70 (I think that the £70 is nPower's number, possible following prompting from enerywatch. Other suppliers will ask for the full amount or nothing at all).

Ask for as long to pay it back as it took to build up, they can't really argue with that.
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# 16
Rodney706
Old 24-03-2009, 10:27 AM
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Default Prepayment meters are not vending machines

Thanks ‘Premier’ your text has been a useful guide when dealing with Npower.

‘Premier’ your statement that ‘prepayment’ meters aren’t vending machines caught my attention. I don’t think the power companies are doing enough to tell their customers that ‘prepayment’ meters are only a rough guide to what the actually owe. The word ‘prepayment’ should be changed to ‘estimated payment meter’. Has a power company ever told their customers ‘that the payments they are making may not be enough and have they considered making additional payments?’ Everyone I spoke to thought that a ‘prepayment’ meter is ‘what it says on the tin’ a meter where you pay for your electricity in advance.

I suggest utility companies are continuously cost cutting and not providing engineers to update pricing information in the meter and this has not been helpful to the most vulnerable in our society. This problem has been caused by the utilities. Letting ‘prepayment’ customs get behind with the payments is not wise.

I heard yesterday that legislation is now forcing utility companies to send out annual statements to ‘prepayment’ meter customers. This may be useful for some customers who are able to pay all their bills on time. But many ‘prepayment’ meter customers don’t pay their bills on time and that is how they got their ‘prepayment’ meter is the first place. If they understand the annual statement, and some won’t, do you think it is fair that the customer should inform the power company that their meter isn’t charging enough, when they are also wondering if they can make ends meet?

Sorry ‘Premier’ not getting at you just the lawyers and judges who made the decision that ‘prepayment’ meters are not vending machines. This is a careful play on words which seems to have successfully moved the responsibility for the problem caused by out of date meter information to the customers and power companies don’t have to be responsible for there own meters.

I disagree with lawyers on this one. The power companies should be responsible for meter pricing information updates. With prepayment customers the power companies should cover the accumulated debt as they neglected their meters.

Once again thanks ‘Premier’ your advice is useful.
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# 17
SwanJon
Old 24-03-2009, 8:05 PM
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Good dredging Rodney.
This should be becoming less of an issue as all suppliers have been told to get rid of meters that cannot be remotely updated.
As the meters needed to be manually updated, what would you do if a customer refused to allow the engineer entry and continued to pay at old, lower prices.
I am an employee of British Gas, however the views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Centrica, its subsidiaries or affiliated companies.
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# 18
CloudedPearl
Old 08-04-2009, 9:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodney706 View Post
I suggest utility companies are continuously cost cutting and not providing engineers to update pricing information in the meter and this has not been helpful to the most vulnerable in our society. This problem has been caused by the utilities. Letting ‘prepayment’ customs get behind with the payments is not wise.
It is not in utility companies interests to delay updating the pricing information on a prepayment meter and either reclaiming the charges for energy used but not paid for at a later date by setting a recovery rate on the meter (effectively giving the customer an interest free loan) or cancelling/reducing the outstanding amount as a goodwill gesture and it is more often the case that the meter reader has been unable to gain access to the meter to update the settings - the costs of recovering the charges for energy used at a much later point or cancelling/reducing the charges far outweighs the cost of sending a meter reader to update the meter settings.

The move by all suppliers to replace token prepayment meters with key prepayment meters is due to the advanced technology which allows these meter settings to be updated remotely without the need for an engineer visit which is to the benefit of both the supplier (in ensuring that they recover the correct amount for any energy used) and the customer (in ensuring that they do not build up an unexpected debt).

As I've mentioned in previous posts, whilst you may not expect to owe money when using a prepayment meter, if the meter has not collected the full value of energy you have used, you are not being penalised or overcharged when you receive a bill - you are simply being asked to pay for the energy you have actually used but not paid for.

In addition, the numerous comments posted that you are being penalised and overcharged for using a prepayment meter are often unjustified - some suppliers, such as EDF Energy, have aligned their prepayment meter tariffs with their standard quarterly tariffs and some, such as ScottishPower, have reduced their prepayment meter tariffs to below their standard quarterly tariffs. In addition, most suppliers now offer a social tariff for certain groups of customers which ensure that their energy charges match their best deal (usually monthly direct debit) regardless of that customer's payment method.
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