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MSE News: Npower to be investigated by Ofgem following billing backlash

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  • RichPyke
    RichPyke Posts: 126 Forumite
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    Well nPower have just increased my direct debit (which I originally demanded they set up as they hadn't set one up for the first 6 months of supplying my energy) from £56 per month to £439 per month.

    They have sent me 5 bills since 27th July (the latest having a timestamp on the PDF properties of yesterday) which cover 2 years of no billing and have not applied back billing.

    I am fuming. I will be left in extreme financial difficulties should they take £439 by direct debit too.

    My complaint has been ongoing since November 2012 (or may have even been November 2011, I need to check that) and no updates very often other than "we are working on it".

    I've provided meter readings over the phone and via their online messaging service however none of these are shown on my account and it is all estimated, they have never read the meter.

    Am I right in thinking back billing should apply?

    I have written two emails to their complaints team (the second stage of complaining) now. I fear I will have to go to the energy ombudsman though however I must have this sorted out before they attempt to take over £400 by direct debit in September as I will not have this much to pay out of my bank. What are the consequences if I cancel the direct debit?
    Rich
  • naedanger
    naedanger Posts: 3,103 Forumite
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    edited 7 August 2014 at 1:14AM
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    RichPyke wrote: »
    Well nPower have just increased my direct debit (which I originally demanded they set up as they hadn't set one up for the first 6 months of supplying my energy) from £56 per month to £439 per month.

    They have sent me 5 bills since 27th July (the latest having a timestamp on the PDF properties of yesterday) which cover 2 years of no billing and have not applied back billing.

    I am fuming. I will be left in extreme financial difficulties should they take £439 by direct debit too.

    My complaint has been ongoing since November 2012 (or may have even been November 2011, I need to check that) and no updates very often other than "we are working on it".

    I've provided meter readings over the phone and via their online messaging service however none of these are shown on my account and it is all estimated, they have never read the meter.

    Am I right in thinking back billing should apply?

    I have written two emails to their complaints team (the second stage of complaining) now. I fear I will have to go to the energy ombudsman though however I must have this sorted out before they attempt to take over £400 by direct debit in September as I will not have this much to pay out of my bank. What are the consequences if I cancel the direct debit?

    I suggest you email the npower rep that posts on this forum. Their details can be found here:

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/member.html?u=799997

    You may get a quicker response if you use the twitter address.

    If you don't get a satisfactory response then follow up here.

    Npower are absolutely awful. I took my case to the Ombudsman who found in my favour. However npower closed my complaint without doing any of the actions the Ombudsman required and I am still having to correspond with them and the Ombudsman to get things sorted. Very bad indeed.

    I knew their service was regarded as poor before switching but thought why do I need their service I will do everything online and am efficient at responding etc. I did not appreciate just what a mess they could make of my account and how uninterested they are in sorting out the mess they created.
  • Kirstj
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    I've just found the news item Npower Investigated by OfGem and this thread after receiving two chasing bills from Npower (Gas and Elec) exactly a year since leaving them. I called and adviser said the bill was sent to me last Dec according to the system. I've never received it and believed I had settled the account. Where do I stand, in light of paying?
  • naedanger
    naedanger Posts: 3,103 Forumite
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    Kirstj wrote: »
    I've just found the news item Npower Investigated by OfGem and this thread after receiving two chasing bills from Npower (Gas and Elec) exactly a year since leaving them. I called and adviser said the bill was sent to me last Dec according to the system. I've never received it and believed I had settled the account. Where do I stand, in light of paying?
    Npower promised to go beyond the Backbilling code by not asking for payment for the energy used by anyone who left npower before December 2013 and still hasn’t received a final bill, as long as there wasn’t any previous debt that a customer had been told about. (See 2(iii) of the link at the end of this post.)

    How very convenient for them that their system says they sent you a bill last December.

    I would complain. If they do not agree to stop asking for payment then take your complaint to the Ombudsman. He will make a decision on the balance of probability. However I would challenge npower to say how confident they are in their system's accuracy. I would also ask the Ombudsman to question: why, if the bill was sent in December, was there no follow up action for 8 months. Is this credible or does it indicate npower system's are a mess and not to be relied on when they say a bill was sent.

    https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/investigation-npower%E2%80%99s-compliance-standards-conduct-standard-licence-condition-25c-and-gas-and-electricity-consumer-complaints-handling-standards-regulations-2008
  • Kirstj
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    Thank you that's very helpful. All your points are very valid. I will lodge a complaint and go in all guns blazing.
  • Melbryce11
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    This is our story:

    On the 7th March we received a bill - our first EVER bill since moving to the property 2 years prior.
    The bill was far higher than the projected. We had been advised when we joined npower to pay £50 direct debit and this would be more than enough to cover energy in our pokey little 2 bed house.
    To make sense of the poorly constructed and unbelievably high bill (saying that we owed nearly 1000 ontop of what we had been paying monthly) I was promised to be phoned 10 days later.
    No answer.
    43 days later on 12/4/2014 after not hearing anything I wrote to npower outlining my concerns, disbelief of the bill, and frustration that we were subject to their system fault.
    On the 28/4/2014 we recieved receipt of our complaint, however unlike they promised in their 'putting things right' document - we did not receive a time frame of when this issue is expected to be resolved, and had no contact from a member of your 'customer relations team.
    To add insult to injury we received an email once again recommending that £50 was a sufficient amount to pay direct debit every month, and that our projected payments were in-keeping with this amount.
    Still continued to wait for a reply to my letter
    76 days later after not receiving a reply from my phone call on 7/3/2014, then escalated by my letter on 12/4/2014 I then followed step two of thecomplaints procedure on 21/5/2014 to escalate the complaint.
    After once again not receiving a reply I escalated the complaint AGAIN on 6/6/2014.
    Finally on 18/6/2014 we received some contact! Unfortunately the content of this email was very poor, which made very little effort to 'put things right' and the calculations of our outstanding debit sent via email , were completely different to the written bill received a few days later. From this point we had lost all trust in the method of calculating our bills as every single bill was of a different value!
    We made contact via phone on 19/6/2014 because we were moving out of the property and wanted some resolution quickly and were told someone would be in touch .
    No one got in touch until 26/6/2014
    Once again the amount we were over drawn was different to the one before so npower placed the complaint on hold for 10 days as they wanted more time to look into our account.
    No contact.
    On 14/7/2014 after no contact from npower I once again chased a resolution to the complaint - BY THIS POINT WE HAD MOVED HOUSE!
    I finally got a reply on 30/07/2014 saying that our complaint had been passed onto someone else and once again they wanted more time to look into it.
    On 8/8/2014 after no response from our complaint out of the blue we got a generic email saying our bill was ready to view online, so we did. Once again it was completely different again (in some part we were planning for this as we had moved house and our final bill had to be accounted for, however the amount that was visible on our account page, was completely different of that of the bill available via PDF link on the account page. The bill available on the PDF link said we had to pay the bill by 16/08/2014.
    We phoned to get an update and some clarity of the situation on 15/08/2014 you were told that the online balance and current bill was not correct but not to worry about paying as our account was on ‘Lock’ so we do not pay any bills until our complaint is dealt with.
    There had been no correspondence to inform us that our account was on lock, yet npower send bills telling us we have to pay up- this is very misleading and completely unfair and distressing thinking we have to find the money to pay our debit, which we don't believe we owe, or not given warning in enough time if it appears that we were underpaying for our energy usage.

    There's been nothing since. No contact what so ever.

    All we want is a legiable, trustworthy and properly calulated bill.

    If we knew we were over spending we could have easily halved our energy consumption yet they di the opposite and told us the amount they recommended us to pay every month was correct.
    To not have a bill for 2 years (the whole time we loved in that property) is disgusting and I cant trust any of the calculations they made.
    I cant understand how our bill is this high, it makes no sense what so ever - we lived in a tiny 2 bedroom house, and had some of the hottest weather and mildest winters in years whilst living there.

    What do we do - tearing my hair out, im so stressed out about it and have done every thing I can to chase it up!
  • DawnW
    DawnW Posts: 7,466 Forumite
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    Time to take it to the Ombudsman perhaps?
  • System
    System Posts: 178,110 Community Admin
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    A bill was sent to our address this week, addressed to "The Occupier" which I duly opened.

    It was for £400+ covering the period between us moving in in Feb and our switch to another supplier completing late March.

    The due by date on the bill was 9th Sept, about a week after door matting.

    Looking at the bill, the gas element was estimated and way over the top (we'd already paid up to this gas reading with our new supplier). The electricity readings were correct.

    So I called them to enquire about the bill (after having read advice on MSE) and I updated the readings with them and name on the account (I was wary to do this as I feared that their systems are so up the spout I'd be getting a red letter bill before long).

    They assured me that over-estimated bill was cancelled and a new bill will be arriving within 28 days (advisor couldn't tell me on the spot the new bill amount based on readings!?).

    Interestingly, when I said I wanted to complain about the delay in billing etc, I was advised to complain I would have to speak to her manager, but I could register "an expression of dissatisfaction" with her - thinking back this feels like it could be a way of reducing their reportable complaint vols reported to OFGEM. Has anyone else had that experience?

    So I will keep my experiences up do date on here going forwards.
  • vhalla1478
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    This is just to encourage all those present and former customers of Npower not to give up the fight against bad serviceand poor billing etc.

    My saga started in May 2013 and although I was told several times after umpteen phone calls (and being forced to listen to their dreadful music!) and numerous emails, that they considered my case 'closed' and that if I wanted to take it further, it would have to be through Ofgem - although they kindly pointed out that that would take forever, I refused to give up and told them I would go to the press and to court if necessary.

    Yesterday lunchtime I got a phone call and after some hard negotiating I had my bill - which I had disputed - it was just a figure, not a bill- of nearly £300 written off (they had already told me in July of this year that it was already written off but that didn't stop them sending nasty demands for it), and there is supposedly a cheque for £200 in the post -in 10 working days (why?) - and a hamper. Knowing Npower I'm not holding my breath as I have been promised a cheque before, but if it doesn't arrive and I get more hassle, it won't be enough.

    Ironically I moved to Scottish Power and now I see they are in trouble so I might have to battle all over again! Watch this space.
  • System
    System Posts: 178,110 Community Admin
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    As a follow up to my original post below...

    1) After initial call, heard nothing so called again 6 weeks later.
    2) Turns out the original call didn't get actioned and the account was in limbo.
    3) Argued that the readings were way off, so they advised I contact current supplier who will then tell them the correct readings
    4) Once the correct readings were fed back from new supplier, a revised bill arrived in the post.
    5) New lower bill paid just before Christmas and hopefully that's the last I'll ever have to do with NPower - I will also place a lot more consideration on service rather than price next time I switch.
    6) I Wish MSE set up their own energy company following Martin Lewis's standards - they'd corner the market!
    balfralf wrote: »
    A bill was sent to our address this week, addressed to "The Occupier" which I duly opened.

    It was for £400+ covering the period between us moving in in Feb and our switch to another supplier completing late March.

    The due by date on the bill was 9th Sept, about a week after door matting.

    Looking at the bill, the gas element was estimated and way over the top (we'd already paid up to this gas reading with our new supplier). The electricity readings were correct.

    So I called them to enquire about the bill (after having read advice on MSE) and I updated the readings with them and name on the account (I was wary to do this as I feared that their systems are so up the spout I'd be getting a red letter bill before long).

    They assured me that over-estimated bill was cancelled and a new bill will be arriving within 28 days (advisor couldn't tell me on the spot the new bill amount based on readings!?).

    Interestingly, when I said I wanted to complain about the delay in billing etc, I was advised to complain I would have to speak to her manager, but I could register "an expression of dissatisfaction" with her - thinking back this feels like it could be a way of reducing their reportable complaint vols reported to OFGEM. Has anyone else had that experience?

    So I will keep my experiences up do date on here going forwards.
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