MSE News: MoneySavingExpert.com sees second, more misleading pay demand from Npower

in Energy
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  • undaunted wrote: »
    I'm no fan of Npowers dreadful customer service but still can't really see this as much of a story.

    Your reporting on a 5 year old letter and something that various co.s chasing debt have done for years as if its some big new scandal?

    It is obvious to anyone with half a brain that the co. is registered at Npowers address & part of their set up in my opinion but even if it wasn't so what?

    You know you owe the money, you know whether you can pay it or not. If you can't then what does it matter who tries to collect it. These so called debt collectors are of no importance. They aren't coming round with baseball bats and demanding money you don't have with menaces. In reality you can simply tell them to go away if you want to - though it's unlikely many of them will ever even call in person - ie they will only do what they would do if the letter was still headed Npower so where is the problem here?

    A bigger scandal is probably that Npower will send out Meter Plus (or whoever) & then charge the customer £25 - £30 or so for the visit despite knowing that they can't pay the bill in the first place.

    With respect I disagree with most of what you say. People can and do panic when they get a letter from a debt collector. I have spoken to literally thousands of customers who did not know the letter was from Npower.

    It is only excellent resources like this website which educate people to the fact these collection companies have no real power.

    It comes down to integrity really. There is no question the intent was to mislead, plus the fact this contradicts their earlier statement about the letter making it clear.

    Now the line is oh well that is an old letter.

    Don't worry know they are going to be number one for customer experience by next year :eek:
  • With respect I disagree with most of what you say. People can and do panic when they get a letter from a debt collector. I have spoken to literally thousands of customers who did not know the letter was from Npower.

    Perhaps they should pay their debts?

    It is only excellent resources like this website which educate people to the fact these collection companies have no real power.

    I suspect the real pork that shirk debts never reach this forum....

    It comes down to integrity really. There is no question the intent was to mislead, plus the fact this contradicts their earlier statement about the letter making it clear.

    They're collecting debt, and working for npower. Purporting to be a debt collector that works for npower is hardly the transmogrification of the century

    Now the line is oh well that is an old letter.

    It was, indeed, an old letter

    Don't worry know they are going to be number one for customer experience by next year :eek:

    npower are absolute pony, but that's much more to do with the SAP billing system they foolishly adopted that is crippling them. I fully applaud their debt collection activity, every success means a few pennies off my bill

    ...........
  • HerbalusHerbalus Forumite
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    Hmmm, interesting.

    Whilst I agree that the word "second" in the MSE titles is misleading by implying that this letter comes after the first letter, whereas in reality it is much older, no longer produced, and has been replaced with a "more acceptable" letter (and I say that loosely), there are clear problems with this type of practice, and I'm surprised that some seem to defend it so forcefully.

    There are a number of issues with fake law letters, as outlined by the president of the UK Law Society, which could potentially be criminal. One example is impersonating a solicitor, another is the harassment of debtors. This blog, pertaining to Wonga's use of these letters, is quite revealing.

    I also don't believe that a company should be allowed to take any means necessary to recover a debt. The article is on point when it says debt collecting "needs to be done with respect, transparency and humanity" - though it does go overboard in the following sentence: "If [it doesn't], it's time they heard consumers roar."
  • joeblack9joeblack9 Forumite
    16 Posts
    You use gas and electric,you get bill,you check bill if estimated and give correct readings to get accurate bill, you pay bill simple.
    You get bill ,you cant pay bill you setup a payment plan and give regular readings to keep bill accurate simple.
    You cant afford payment plan ,you get meters changed for free to prepayment meters simple.
    You ignore all letters for payment you get visits from agents for the companys hand delivering letters a requirement to be able to apply for a warrant of entry to enter you home and change your meters ,you ignore this .
    Company goes to court gets a warrant and charges you for the expense of going to court and hiring a locksmith to enter your home to fit the meters which if you could of had fitted for free.
    Prepayment meters are the most low cost repayment plan you can get .
    Payment plans are made to suit your income but dont use more than you can afford.
    You dont go food shopping fill a trolley up with food you cant afford to pay for so why do this with utillitys
  • I thought that MSE was supposed to be on the side of consumers? Problem with all journalists is that they don't think things through!

    1. On what perverse moral planet are people who don't pay their bills the Good Guys, and the companies trying to collect payment for something they have provided, the Bad Guys? Every person who doesn't pay for the services they have used, means the rest of us end up paying more to cover their bad debts!

    2. If these companies stopped using internal debt collection companies that sound tough, the alternative is not No Action. It's passing things sooner to external debt collectors that ARE tough, less flexible, less sympathetic, and more expensive - with the extra costs being passed on to the people in debt (where they do eventually pay), and the rest of us (see point one above) where they don't.
  • DavidFDavidF Forumite
    498 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    Npower trolls out in force today hehe. Not at all suspect that people seem to have signed up here today just to support Npower and bash those who have debts. Maybe some people should try to respect the owners of this forum/site. Free speech is one thing but maybe Npower would not get bad press if they did not use underhand tactics. :eek::(
  • Alpine_StarAlpine_Star Forumite
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    1. On what perverse moral planet are people who don't pay their bills the Good Guys, and the companies trying to collect payment for something they have provided, the Bad Guys?



    MSE is not presenting those who don't pay their bills as the 'good guys'.


    And since when have Npower been the 'good guys'?


    Just Google Npower and you'll find numerous instances of profiteering, monopolistic behavior. tax avoidance and mis-selling in addition to misleading their customers as to who is writing to them - a charge the article makes clear they haven't denied.
  • MSE is not presenting those who don't pay their bills as the 'good guys'.


    And since when have Npower been the 'good guys'?


    Just Google Npower and you'll find numerous instances of profiteering, monopolistic behavior. tax avoidance and mis-selling in addition to misleading their customers as to who is writing to them - a charge the article makes clear they haven't denied.

    What on earth is wrong with avoiding tax?!
  • JoyfulJoyful Forumite
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    Sorry MSE but it is not good to revive a problem by bringing up a 5 year letter. Energy companies like many others change over the years what literature they send out. It's usually changed for the better. Stick to the original issue by all means but there is no point dragging up something 5 years old.

    Your dramatic title would lose effect though if it started with "Second letter 5 years old seen". The fact you go on to say it was more disengenous which doesn't mention Npower and now letters do means they have amended their letters since then.
    Self Employed, Running my Dream Jobs
  • jamesdjamesd Forumite
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    These letters are puzzling. The OFT issued fair debt collection guidance and these letters clearly seem to breach that guidance. Specifically, using OFT664 Rev 2 "July 2003 (updated November 2012)":

    "2.2 In general terms, businesses should ...
    be transparent in their dealings with debtors and others – information provided should be clear and should not be confusing or misleading
    "

    The whole purpose of the use of the prominent Collections Direct naming appears to be to mislead debtors, regardless of whether there is or is not small print that consumers who know what a trading name means might realise that it's part of the same business.

    "3 UNFAIR OR IMPROPER BUSINESS PRACTICES
    3.1 This chapter identifies matters that the OFT considers to be unfair or improper business practices for the purposes of section 25(2A)(e) of the Act.

    Communication: businesses should communicate in a clear, accurate and transparent manner
    False representation of authority and/or legal position: businesses should accurately and truthfully represent their authority/status and the correct legal position with regard to debts and the debt recovery process
    Deceptive and/or unfair methods: businesses should be truthful and fair in their dealings with debtors and others
    "

    The prominent Collections Direct naming appears to be deliberate use of deception and an attempt to misrepresent the authority of the letter senders. The use of a signature that does not identify the person signing as an Npower employee contributes to this deception. The wording "npower has advised us" is a lie and hence not truthful: the letter is from npower.

    "3.3 Examples of unfair or improper practices are as follows:
    b. leaving out or presenting information in such a way that it creates, or has the potential to create, a false or misleading impression, or exploits a debtor's lack of knowledge
    c. those contacting debtors not making clear who they are, who they work for, what their role is and the purpose of the contact
    d. sending misleading communications or making misleading statements which may induce a debtor to make contact on the basis of a false or misleading premise
    "

    The signature did not identify the Operations Manager as an employee of Npower, creating a false impression that he was an employee of a third party legal firm Collections Direct, and their "pre-court" collections business. The use of Collections Direct is clearly to create a false impression. The use of the job title but not company exploits the lack of knowledge that consumers will have that he is in fact an employee of Npower. The prominent pre-court division letterhead wording implies that court action is imminent, with the apparent purpose of being misleading to obtain contact or payment.

    "l. asking or instructing debtors to make contact on premium rate or other special rate telephone numbers.
    24 This includes any phone numbers, the cost of calling which is higher than to standard geographic numbers.
    "

    The contact phone number is a 0845 number which has a higher charge than a standard geographic number for a large percentage of possible callers.

    "d. 'threatening' to refer the debt to a third party debt collection business, with potential cost implications for the debtor, under
    circumstances in which the evidence suggests that, in reality, the creditor has, or can be reasonably concluded as having, no
    current intention of doing so
    "

    There is a threat to pass the matter to the Debt And Recovery Agents of Collections Direct which is overall presented as a third party and a mention of cost implications for doing so.

    "Debt collection visits
    3.13 Examples of unfair or improper practices are:
    a. not making clear the purpose and intended outcome of any proposed visit
    For example, it is not sufficient to inform the debtor that collectors or field agents will visit him and not tell him the intended purpose of the visit.
    "

    The letter includes the text "and if necessary make a visit to your property" without saying what the intended purpose of the visit is.

    They may also have committed the crime and breach of OFT guidance of pretending to be a legal services provider via the firm name and use of "pre court division" wording.

    All in all, npower appears to have shown a flagrant disregard for honesty and fair debt collection practices, apparently attempting deliberate misrepresentation. I assume that they intend to continue these misrepresentations because they believe that they are successful, itself evidence of improper conduct.
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