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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Guy
    • By MSE Guy 30th Sep 10, 3:33 PM
    • 1,628Posts
    • 1,255Thanks
    MSE Guy
    MSE News: Npower to pay 70m in refunds after billing blunder
    • #1
    • 30th Sep 10, 3:33 PM
    MSE News: Npower to pay 70m in refunds after billing blunder 30th Sep 10 at 3:33 PM
    This is the discussion thread for the following MSE News Story:



    Last edited by MSE Guy; 01-10-2010 at 12:48 AM.
Page 1
  • tommad
    • #2
    • 1st Oct 10, 7:23 AM
    • #2
    • 1st Oct 10, 7:23 AM
    any ideas what to do if you were an Npower customer then, but have both moved house and changed suppliers?
    Thanks!
    • DirectDebacle
    • By DirectDebacle 1st Oct 10, 7:42 AM
    • 2,027 Posts
    • 2,177 Thanks
    DirectDebacle
    • #3
    • 1st Oct 10, 7:42 AM
    • #3
    • 1st Oct 10, 7:42 AM
    any ideas what to do if you were an Npower customer then, but have both moved house and changed suppliers?
    Thanks!
    Originally posted by tommad
    Here is an extract from npowers press statement.

    'There’s no need for customers to do anything – although a help line 0800 975 7938 will be open from Monday 4th October. We will be contacting all 1.8 million eligible customers in the next two months even if they are no longer with npower. Payments will average about 35.'

    This payout is the result of a long running campaign by MSE'rs and others and is discussed fully in the npower sculpting thread.

    What is not clear at the moment is the period to which the payout applies.

    In 2007 npower made two changes to the way they charge for gas. The first was 1st May 2007 and the second 1st Novemeber, 2007.

    Each of these changes, separately and collectively caused overcharging. The changes also had a retrospective as well as forward overcharging effect. The date range that overcharging could have occurred is from around October 2006 to October 2008.

    I am not sure but it appears that the agreement reached with Consumer Focus is limited to the period 1st May, 2007 to 30th April, 2008. I will endeavour to obtain clarification of this.
  • KimYeovil
    • #4
    • 1st Oct 10, 7:50 AM
    • #4
    • 1st Oct 10, 7:50 AM
    "Blunder"? Bit of a weaselly, sympathetic understatement. This is one of the very few occasions when the over-excited and over-abused 'rip off' could be deployed.

    This was a deliberate, deceitful, underhand attempt of theft by nPower. Yes, the sums involved at each transition are individually small and no different (in size) to every other adjustment made by all companies at such restructurings. BUT these clawbacks have to be made transparently in the prices charged for future tier 1 units. The way nPower carried out this fraud meant they could indefinitely swindle customers out of money without ever honestly disclosing this in their published tariffs.
    Last edited by KimYeovil; 01-10-2010 at 7:59 AM. Reason: typo
  • tommad
    • #5
    • 1st Oct 10, 7:51 AM
    • #5
    • 1st Oct 10, 7:51 AM
    Ok thanks, We were with them for most of 07 and 08 so i'll give the helpline a try next week.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 1st Oct 10, 8:09 AM
    • 27,865 Posts
    • 13,729 Thanks
    Cardew
    • #6
    • 1st Oct 10, 8:09 AM
    • #6
    • 1st Oct 10, 8:09 AM
    Those people who have not been following this saga closely for the past 3 years may not be aware that it is largely due to the efforts of Direct Debacle(and a few other pioneers!) who originally took Npower to court and won substantial damages on this issue.

    Since then he has made great efforts to advise others on MSE, who have also won damages, as well as pursuing the case with ofgem and other agencies. His liaison with the Times has also helped to publicise this issue and not let it fade away. So well done DD.

    On a sour note – ofgem have once again proved to be absolutely useless on this issue. They originally had every chance to have solved this issue, but fouled up and have spent the next couple of years in miserable attempts to explain away their incompetence. Let us hope that later this month the Chancellor disbands this useless organisation.

    Also, it is a pity that Martin and his MSE team never got involved in this issue, despite repeated requests, in the same way they did with the Bank Charges saga.
    • DirectDebacle
    • By DirectDebacle 1st Oct 10, 8:51 AM
    • 2,027 Posts
    • 2,177 Thanks
    DirectDebacle
    • #7
    • 1st Oct 10, 8:51 AM
    • #7
    • 1st Oct 10, 8:51 AM
    An important principle has been established here.

    npower claim that the changes they made overall were of benefit to customers. However they agree that when the change to the Primary Block units (the higher of the two gas prices) is taken in isolation then they will reimburse customers who were charged for more than 4572kWh Primary Block units.

    What has received little publicity and does not appear to have been considered by Consumer Focus is that npower used exactly the same technique in 2004/5 to overcharge customers. In this instance there were no adjustments to DD discounts or a lowering of the gas price to cloud the issue. In fact npower changed the way they charged for the Primary Block units (to cause an overcharge) at the same time as introducing a price increase.

    On 1st October, 2004, npower introduced changes which meant, for example, that for the 12 month period 1/4/2004-31/3/2005 virtually all of their gas customers would have been overcharged. Not to the same extent as this recent case but nevertheless would have netted them around 20m to which they were not entitled. If any of you were with npower during this period then I would recommend, if you have been overcharged, calling the helpline mantioned above and requesting you be refunded. If they refuse, and they probably will, then the principle they have established should make any claim so much simpler than ever it was before.

    After all, npower now agree it is right to recompense where they have charged for more Primary block units than they were entitled to.

    Strike while the iron is hot.
    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 1st Oct 10, 9:05 AM
    • 8,115 Posts
    • 42,285 Thanks
    MSE Martin
    • #8
    • 1st Oct 10, 9:05 AM
    • #8
    • 1st Oct 10, 9:05 AM
    Those people who have not been following this saga closely for the past 3 years may not be aware that it is largely due to the efforts of Direct Debacle(and a few other pioneers!) who originally took Npower to court and won substantial damages on this issue.

    Since then he has made great efforts to advise others on MSE, who have also won damages, as well as pursuing the case with ofgem and other agencies. His liaison with the Times has also helped to publicise this issue and not let it fade away. So well done DD.

    On a sour note – ofgem have once again proved to be absolutely useless on this issue. They originally had every chance to have solved this issue, but fouled up and have spent the next couple of years in miserable attempts to explain away their incompetence. Let us hope that later this month the Chancellor disbands this useless organisation.

    Also, it is a pity that Martin and his MSE team never got involved in this issue, despite repeated requests, in the same way they did with the Bank Charges saga.
    Originally posted by Cardew
    I find your later comment unfair. We did get involved in this - yet rather than doing it ourselves we worked with the official body set up for doing it - Consumer Focus and discussed, provided info, case studies on it - consumer focus has delivered.

    Yet I get increasingly frustrated by the "Martin & his team should've done this" we do not have an unlimited resource of time and team to deal with every issue.

    We are not a publically funded campaigns body. This was an important issue effecting a lot of people which was already being appropriately dealt with by a publically funded body.

    We were involved in discussions with CF who told us that it was being dealt with and would take time. What else you wanted us to do I don't know, but I'm certainly more than happy with what we did and don't believe that duplicating that work was the best focus of our campaigning resources.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.

    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
    • alleycat`
    • By alleycat` 1st Oct 10, 9:06 AM
    • 1,777 Posts
    • 1,535 Thanks
    alleycat`
    • #9
    • 1st Oct 10, 9:06 AM
    • #9
    • 1st Oct 10, 9:06 AM
    What will be interesting from my point of view is they gave me a gesture of goodwill payment but said they had done nothing wrong - just that i was a great customer (or some other twaddle).

    I wonder if they'll now give me a refund as well?

    I'm not that interested in the money (as the gesture of goodwill was what they owed me anyway + a bit more) but in whether or not the gesture of goodwill was really ever that.

    Well done DD
    • DirectDebacle
    • By DirectDebacle 1st Oct 10, 10:31 AM
    • 2,027 Posts
    • 2,177 Thanks
    DirectDebacle
    What will be interesting from my point of view is they gave me a gesture of goodwill payment but said they had done nothing wrong - just that i was a great customer (or some other twaddle).

    I wonder if they'll now give me a refund as well?

    I'm not that interested in the money (as the gesture of goodwill was what they owed me anyway + a bit more) but in whether or not the gesture of goodwill was really ever that.

    Well done DD
    Originally posted by alleycat`
    Here is a link to some Q&A on the consumer focus website http://www.consumerfocus.org.uk/energy-help-and-advice/npower-gas-announcement

    Also the compensation will cover the full period the changes affected, not just from May 2007.

    As regards the 2004/5 overcharge, this was not considered by C.F. or discussed with npower and will require to be claimed separately.

    I do not find Cardews point unfair. From this end of the keyboard there appeared to be little in the way of input from MSE office. I personally sent email requests for support and these were not responded to. If behind the scenes work was going on then this should have been made clear. As far as I remember this issue was included in only one weekly email in over 2 years it has been running.

    Nevertheless this Forum has been an invaluable vehicle in bringing this issue to its conclusion and for that I am grateful.

    The pity is that there are so many issues for MSE to get involved in that prioritising is difficult. Naturally I feel that this should have been highlighted more but we can't all be winners.
    • davidgmmafan
    • By davidgmmafan 1st Oct 10, 10:39 AM
    • 1,446 Posts
    • 522 Thanks
    davidgmmafan
    The main thing I take from this is that Ofgem are totally useless, not only did they fudge the referral made by Energywatch claiming they ran out of time (who's fault is that then?), but when something substantial is announced today it is as a result of work by consumer focus. I'm not even sure this is within thier remit, but its good work anyway.

    If there is to be a casualty as a result of the looming cutbacks I know which organisation I would retain. BTW don't forget Ofgem's other bone head move, relinquishing powers to act on prices. It gave this up VOLUNTARILY, believing competition alone would keep prices down.
  • meggsy
    I do not find Cardews point unfair. From this end of the keyboard there appeared to be little in the way of input from MSE office. I personally sent email requests for support and these were not responded to. If behind the scenes work was going on then this should have been made clear. As far as I remember this issue was included in only one weekly email in over 2 years it has been running.

    Nevertheless this Forum has been an invaluable vehicle in bringing this issue to its conclusion and for that I am grateful.

    The pity is that there are so many issues for MSE to get involved in that prioritising is difficult. Naturally I feel that this should have been highlighted more but we can't all be winners.
    Originally posted by DirectDebacle
    I agree with the above DD, emails were sent and requests for Martin to be involved were included in the gas sculpting thread, but well done to you for all your work on this, The Times, Consumer Focus and all on the famous sculpting thread
    Last edited by meggsy; 01-10-2010 at 11:40 AM.
    • davidgmmafan
    • By davidgmmafan 1st Oct 10, 12:01 PM
    • 1,446 Posts
    • 522 Thanks
    davidgmmafan
    On balance I side with MSE, they are not a charitable organisation and if the forum contributed in ANY WAY to this being resolved surely that must be a good thing? Besides I can't blame them for prioritising issues over others, everyone has to do this in thier life. Personally I'd say bank charges is much more important, as the sums (and impact) involved dwarf the sums being discussed here.

    Both are unfair, but I know which one I believe does more damage, and which one I regard as being nearer to theft... and it generates reveune of 2.6 BILLION per year.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 1st Oct 10, 12:33 PM
    • 27,865 Posts
    • 13,729 Thanks
    Cardew
    I find your later comment unfair. We did get involved in this - yet rather than doing it ourselves we worked with the official body set up for doing it - Consumer Focus and discussed, provided info, case studies on it - consumer focus has delivered.

    Yet I get increasingly frustrated by the "Martin & his team should've done this" we do not have an unlimited resource of time and team to deal with every issue.

    We are not a publically funded campaigns body. This was an important issue effecting a lot of people which was already being appropriately dealt with by a publically funded body.

    We were involved in discussions with CF who told us that it was being dealt with and would take time. What else you wanted us to do I don't know, but I'm certainly more than happy with what we did and don't believe that duplicating that work was the best focus of our campaigning resources.
    Originally posted by MSE Martin
    There were frequent requests for Martin or his team to get involved and as far as I am aware no mention of this was made in the various sculpting threads or the News letters.

    Your involvement with Consumer Focus was certainly not known by many(any?) on this forum, which I find rather surprising for a team that(understandably) are not shy when it comes to publicity An example is the credit you have claimed for stopping the practice of retrospective notices of price increases. Although in fact stopping that practice is largely an 'own goal' and actually will cost some people money.

    The whole point is that the Npower issue was raised long before Consumer Focus were involved and being dealt with(badly) by Ofgem and Energywatch and some intervention, or even comment, by MSE would have concentrated minds.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 1st Oct 10, 12:52 PM
    • 27,865 Posts
    • 13,729 Thanks
    Cardew
    Hi



    Most of our gas customers were better off after we made changes in 2007 but some changes were not easy to understand and we didn’t communicate them well. We’re sorry for the confusion and we're going to make some payments to put things right.


    Sally
    Originally posted by nPower company representative
    Sally,
    We appreciate you are just repeating the Npower 'defence' for their actions.

    However that defence was discredited which is the sole reason you are now paying back customers 70 million. That defence was challenged by those who took court action, and as far as I am aware was not upheld in a single case and you have paid substantial damages - mainly in out-of-court settlements.

    The simple fact is that you structured your charges over that period in 2007 to ensure that virtually every one of your gas customers paid for a great many more units at the Tier 1 price.

    Your first 'defence' was that NPower can redefine the length of a year from 365 days to whatever you think is appropriate(the infamous NPower 'tariff' year).

    Your second defence was to retrospectively claim that a general cut in gas prices(along with other companies) was intended as a form of compensation - and even got ofgem to go along with a 6 rebate to a fraction of your customers.

    You really should not be put in a position to come on MSE and present NPower's PR spin on a disgraceful episode.
    Last edited by Cardew; 01-10-2010 at 12:55 PM.
  • sofa-spud
    An important principle has been established here.

    npower claim that the changes they made overall were of benefit to customers. However they agree that when the change to the Primary Block units (the higher of the two gas prices) is taken in isolation then they will reimburse customers who were charged for more than 4572kWh Primary Block units.

    What has received little publicity and does not appear to have been considered by Consumer Focus is that npower used exactly the same technique in 2004/5 to overcharge customers. In this instance there were no adjustments to DD discounts or a lowering of the gas price to cloud the issue. In fact npower changed the way they charged for the Primary Block units (to cause an overcharge) at the same time as introducing a price increase.

    On 1st October, 2004, npower introduced changes which meant, for example, that for the 12 month period 1/4/2004-31/3/2005 virtually all of their gas customers would have been overcharged. Not to the same extent as this recent case but nevertheless would have netted them around 20m to which they were not entitled. If any of you were with npower during this period then I would recommend, if you have been overcharged, calling the helpline mantioned above and requesting you be refunded. If they refuse, and they probably will, then the principle they have established should make any claim so much simpler than ever it was before.

    After all, npower now agree it is right to recompense where they have charged for more Primary block units than they were entitled to.

    Strike while the iron is hot.
    Originally posted by DirectDebacle
    I would agree with this & would like to point out that any concerns over the 6 year time limit for claims I believe would not apply here.
    I have the letter they sent me anouncing the price rises on that very day. While it mentions the unit price increases, it does not give the detail of how these will be applied. As such it is an act of concealment which removes the time limit for anyone to make a claim against them.
  • sofa-spud
    I find your later comment unfair. We did get involved in this - yet rather than doing it ourselves we worked with the official body set up for doing it - Consumer Focus and discussed, provided info, case studies on it - consumer focus has delivered.

    Yet I get increasingly frustrated by the "Martin & his team should've done this" we do not have an unlimited resource of time and team to deal with every issue.

    We are not a publically funded campaigns body. This was an important issue effecting a lot of people which was already being appropriately dealt with by a publically funded body.

    We were involved in discussions with CF who told us that it was being dealt with and would take time. What else you wanted us to do I don't know, but I'm certainly more than happy with what we did and don't believe that duplicating that work was the best focus of our campaigning resources.
    Originally posted by MSE Martin
    As the 'johnny come lately' to that thread I only wish to say the following:
    When I came across this issue I found it surprising that MSE themselves were not more involved given the scale of the problem.
    Given that Archna started the thread & updated the first post in March 09 could you not have given a further update to show people they were not fighting alone?
    Even so, it is thanks to this board that I became aware of the issue and was able to take a bite (nibble?) out of npower thanks to all the help I received here.
  • northernstar5
    What will be interesting from my point of view is they gave me a gesture of goodwill payment but said they had done nothing wrong - just that i was a great customer (or some other twaddle).

    I wonder if they'll now give me a refund as well?

    I'm not that interested in the money (as the gesture of goodwill was what they owed me anyway + a bit more) but in whether or not the gesture of goodwill was really ever that.

    Well done DD
    Originally posted by alleycat`
    Ditto to all of this
    KE veteran - life seemed so much simpler then!
  • LINDSEY_1980
    i have also moved house and changed gas and electricity supplier. I was with NPower but changed because one winter I was charged nearly 250, I switched to EDF and the next winter my gas bill came to 90 for the 3 months, the winter was colder too, I had the heating on more than I did when I was with NPower.

    I also think British Gas are rip off merchants, when i moved into my new house BG was the supplier but I wanted to change to EDF as I was happy with the prices of my bills. BG charged me over 200 for gas and electricity for about 3 weeks supply, I was apalled. When my bill for EDF came in, I was in credit and spent about 60 on gas and electric in 3 months, how can these people/companies get away with it. Dont they realise times are hard and to charge people for air, which I feel like they are doing, is ridiculous.

    I was an Npower customer from 2005 to 2008 so would I qualify to receive a refund? Would it be worth calling them?
  • oakhouse13
    Consumer Focus is on the list of quangoes to be considered for the chop. I don't know what its annual budget is, what it does and whether it's worth saving or merging.

    The question is, would nPower have refunded customers if there had been no Consumer Focus?

    I had not heard of DirectDebacle until reading this thread, but thanks DD for your efforts and MSE for hosting the discussion.
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