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Hi, I'm looking for general advice and a heads up on what the outcome might be of my issues with nPower, based on the experience of people who know better! I've lived in my current (rented) property for almost 4 years in that time I've lived with 5 different flatmates; flatmate A from August 2013 to March 2014; flatmate B from March 2014 to September 2014; flatmate C from September 2014 to March 2015; flatmate D from March 2015 to February 2016 and flatmate E has been with me since February (2016). The gas/electric bills have always been in my flatmate's name and we'd been with nPower for both gas and electricity up 'til March 2015 when we tried to switch. The electricity switch went fine, but we were told that nPower were objecting to the gas account move. I phoned nPower and asked what was going on, knowing that flatmate D had submitted a final meter reading before moving out. nPower told me that they did not supply gas to the property and could not find any gas account linked to my address. They recommended I phoned the National Grid to find out who was supplying me, which I did and they too said it seemed that nobody was supplying me (which was odd because I was getting gas). I checked again with nPower who insisted it was not them and was unable to make any progress. We received no gas bills up until October 2015, when I received 13 months' worth of estimated gas bills from nPower, totalling more than £500, along with a letter 'welcoming' me to nPower. This was all in my name, for the first time, when I logged into the account online, there was a new account for me, as well as the old account which would have been in flatmate D's name both attributed to me. I made an initial payment of £155.32, knowing that we were liable for some of the money and set about speaking to nPower to clarify what was going on and to get accurate bills. Within a month of this, nPower has passed my details on Richburns debt collection agency who sent me a letter stating their intention to seek a warrant to enter my property. At this stage, I'd logged an official complaint to nPower and understood that my account was on hold and as such, the collections process should have been paused. I sent Richburns a letter stating this and highlighting the customer service and billing issues it was well publicised that nPower were guilty of, they replied to tell me that they'd passed the matter back to nPower. Following this, I received a letter from nPower again threatening to seek a warrant and also to place a default on my credit record. At this point (25/01/16) I phoned the customer service team who assured me there was a hold on the account and no further bills would be issued until we understood what was going on and that the threats would not be carried out as there was a complaint logged. After this I received a bill and I made a second phone call, seeking an update (01/02/16), where I was told that there was indeed a hold (until 31/05/16) and the bill shouldn't have been issued, as the matter had been passed to the 'specialist' billing team who could generate an accurate bill. I was told that everything would be investigated and I'd receive an email to confirm everything, and to disregard the bill. No such email materialised and the bill wasn't reversed, as promised. I heard nothing and chased with another phone call on 05/02/16 when I was told that the complaint had been closed on 25/01/16. At this point I discovered nPower had raised 3 different complaint numbers and muddled everything up - the one complaint was closed , that all issues were all consolidated into one. After being given the correct complaint number, I was asked why I was disputing the bill. Prior to this call I'd done some reading and come across the backbilling policy that nPower were signed up to and knew that some of the bill should not have been chased I raised this, and explained that I was seeking an accurate bill as opposed to ridiculous estimates (we had given a meter reading to bring everything up to date 02/02/16). The guy on the phone said as far as he could see, I'd been contacted to say everything had been investigated. This had not happened; no letter, no emails, no missed calls. He went on to say there was an accurate bill which had been recently generated, which I logged into my online account and saw, but I'd had no email to alert me to it before this phone call. At this point the bill had ballooned to £625 with costs from debt collection visits and calls. I again raised the fact that it was not accurate as they needed to remove the 'backbilled' amount and he said they'd investigate to write off that one month. I told him that I wanted to go away and check that this latest bill was indeed accurate, given that I'd only just seen it and that I wanted the charges removed because they should never have passed the account to collections, which he did actually do after the call; crediting that £57.50 to the account. He said he'd get the backbilling team to investigate the outstanding amount and come back to me with an up-to-date bill. During this phone call I said I'd be seeking compensation given their failing to bill me for over a yea r and then seeking 13 months' of bills in one go, as well as their abysmal customer service given that Id had to do so much chasing and been kept so misinformed. The guy said he'd note that I was seeking compensation but warned that I couldn't claim for phone calls/time; just the backbilling and the customer service. He asked if I had an amount in mind and I said I'd wait to see what they offered. I heard nothing from nPower for the next two weeks and having given the compensation some real thought, I sent an email to nPower informing them that I was seeking £400 compensation. The email was as follows: To whom it may concern, On Friday 5th February, having spent 40 minutes on hold, I spent 20 minutes speaking to Sam, one of you customer service advisors, seeking an update on billing issues with my gas account (ref. XYZ). Sam assured me that he'd add a 'miscellaneous credit' to my account to reimburse me for fees relating to debt collection agencies - who should never have been approached. This has now happened. He also said he'd pass my account onto the back-billing team to remove a bill from September 2014, which was only actually billed in October 2015, and that I'd receive a new bill taking this into account. I am still awaiting any update on this, some 15 days later. I also made Sam aware that I would be seeking compensation for the total lack of customer service I'd received and for the fact that I'd been billed 13 months' worth of bills in October 2015, having received nothing for over a year and despite me trying to make payments. Sam asked if I had a figure in mind and I said I would wait to hear from you. Having heard nothing, and having spent time over the past two weeks reflecting on the impact of this saga on me, I am now writing to inform you that I seek £400 total in compensation, for the reasons outlined below. I expect a prompt response outlining what is going on with my account and when and how I should expect to receive compensation from you. Yours faithfully, MY NAME 1. Billing delays Your website states: We will provide compensation to any customer who we incorrectly back billed from July 2010 to 31st December 2015, to a value not less than £100 per customer We will provide compensation to any customer currently affected by late invoice for 12 months or more as at 31st December 2015, to a value not less than £100 per customer I received 13 months' of bills (from September 2014 to October 2015) and an immediate demand for payment in October 2015 having received no bills, and even being told Npower didn't supply my gas, throughout that period. Given that I meet both your criteria for redress, I am seeking compensation from Npower for billing delays. TOTAL SOUGHT FOR BILLING DELAYS: £100 2. General customer service My issue was not resolved within 10 working days as per your complaints policy [here I included a link to their complaints policy page] to-date it has actually taken more than 90 days since first contact and I have not been informed of progress throughout; rather I’ve sent 2 letters, countless emails and made 3 phone calls (spending more than an hour on hold) to chase updates and unfulfilled promises Such chaos has there been around my account, that even when I've tried to make payments in the past year, I was told I was not on your system and had no gas account with you; I was not receiving bills and it was impossible to make any payment given there being no account according to your team You state [here I included a link to their page which details what they're doing as of the latest December 2015 issue] We will identify and repay any customer who we incorrectly back billed from July 2010 to 31st December 2015 and yet I had to point this issue out to you; you did not identify any issues with my account until I raised the back-bill in my phone call with Sam on 05/02/2016 - in fact you were still seeking payment for the out-of-date bill at that point, contravening the Energy UK guidelines which you signed up to You raised multiple complaints (X, Y and Z) and made no contact to let me know anything had been resolved (even if it your ‘resolution’ was just consolidating two complaints into one), leading to total confusion and delaying communication with customer services about my issues A pitiful level of care and attention has been given to my communications as is evident in your reply dated 20/01/2016 , when the copying and pasting of my email was blatant (you failed to replace ‘my’ with ‘your’) and you mis-spelled basic information such as the address [i copied and highlighted the errors here] All of the above suggests my issues have been handled with nowhere near the level of care and importance they should have been, especially given your repeated promises to the Ombudsman that you will handle and resolve complaints more effectively. TOTAL SOUGHT FOR ABYSMAL CUSTOMER SERVICE: £150 3. Inconvenience and stress Such was the stress of this episode, and particularly the threat of entry to my property from Richburns (acting on Npower’s behalf) to seek a disputed debt, I spent several months taking high value items including a MacBook computer and family heirlooms including jewellery to work everyday to avoid them being taken away in my absence I have experienced serious anxiety, triggering asthma which I have not suffered from since childhood, which has massively impacted by wellbeing and quality of day-to-day life TOTAL SOUGHT FOR INCONVENIENCE AND STRESS: £50 4. Failure to uphold the Data Protection Act and unnecessarily passing my details into Richburns Debt Collection agency The Data Protection Act of 1998 states that: Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date In passing inaccurate data on me on to Richburns and wrongly seeking payment for a disputed debt, I believe you contravened this act and risked damage to my reputation I am aware that following intervention by The Guardian's Consumer Champions, [here I inserted a link to a Guardian Consumer Champion's article] you previously awarded £100 in compensation to a customer who wrongfully received a visit from a debt collection agency acting on your instruction and I expect the same in this instance TOTAL SOUGHT FOR MISHANDLING OF DATA: £100 TOTAL SOUGHT FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE: £400. The week after this, I logged into my online account and saw lots of 'transfers' and 'reversed bills' applied, making my balance £0. I submitted a meter reading and it became approx. £19. As expected, nPower failed to reply to my email within the 7 working days they state they will. I received a voicemail from a different customer service team member on 01/03/16 asking me to call back, which I did today, speaking to someone who had no idea what was going on. He informed me that the backbilling team had sent the query back to them because they weren't sure which account the questions were around; but I only have one (gas) account with nPower! He agreed this was odd but explained that they wanted to just credit the account with £60 to save the backbilling team investigating, but hadn't done so yet because of the 'goodwill gesture' of £400 that I was seeking. He explained he could do the £60 reversal for the backbilling and give me a goodwill gesture of £30, to which my response was 'Are you joking?!'. He claimed it was a reasonable amount. I told him that the nPower website states that in response to the latest (December 2015) issues with the Ombudsman, any customer still affected by backbilling would receive no less than £100 in compensation, and he told me he wasn't aware of it but could offer £40 to make it £100. I told him this would not do, because the backbilling is seperate to the compensation; as I understand it they CANNOT charge me for that month that they billed me for some 13 months later. Any compensation I seek should be seperate to this. I also highlighted the issues I'd experienced (he hadn't read the LONG email i sent) and explained why I was seeking £400; it not being some random amount I'd plucked out of thin air. He said he'd log that I wouldn't accept the £40 and that now the matter would be passed on to Stage 2 for the complaint to be reviewed and I stressed that they need to look at my email again. As I understand it, the bill is going back to the backilling team to figure out what needs to be written off and I have to wait to hear regarding my complaint. I also asked him why my account went back to £0 and he said it was because they'd credited payments from old accounts to the new account so it was up to date. I presume he refers to payments flatmate C and/or D made before they stopped billing us. Is it not ridiculous that they've just figured out we might not even owe them anything!? I'm still not clear whether we do or don't, because billing is still on hold given the lock from the complaint. I'm utterly exhausted with all this. All I want is some fair compensation, and the mess to be resolved so that I can switch suppliers. As I understand it, there's every chance that Stage 2 will involve another laughable offer and then it'll likely go to deadlock and I'll need to complain to the Ombudsman. I guess I'm looking for advice - have I done everything I need to? What else can I do at this point? Also should I expect to have to go to the Ombudsman? Any help very much appreciated. Thank you!
Dear CAG, I'm posting to ask your advice about potential to take legal action against npower. A customer of many years, my billing was recently disrupted by their apparent billing meltdown, during which time i received a letter advising an amount was to be written off to comply with backbilling regulations. I was subsequently made aware that they'd re-commenced billing by an automated message asking me why i hadn't paid my bill. I called to advise it was because i hadn't received a bill and today, twelve months later, it still isn't resolved. When i received my bill it included an amount listed as 'balance on account', but there were no meter readings for this amount, i queried this with npower and this led to them putting my account on hold to allow 'back office' to look at it, it appears they didn't; my account came off hold and the unresolved matter was escalated - repeat numerous times and npower increase the threat levels, eventually they involved PDCS, and threatened to tarnish my credit history and obtain a warrant to enter my home. It was ridiculous, disproportionate and a result of their failing and not mine. During this time i had the attention of a manager who promised to resolve the matter but failed to do so, during one conversation she called up a bill on their system which included figures which differed from my bill. Presumably as a result of her involvement, i received an odd list of dates and figures, there was no explanation and no indication of who'd sent it. I exhausted npower's formal complaints procedure (the first part of which they used as a sales lead!) without them attempting to answer this simple central question of how they justified the charge. I took the matter to the Ombudsman, as a result of their involvement npower found a further 3 bills from the same date as the one received which add up to the sum in question. The process was slow but eventually one evening, out of the blue i received a call from the investigating officer advising on their findings. Their process doesn't allow for things to be put in writing but rely on an agreement over the phone, keen to put an end to it i agreed to the recommendations of the Ombudsman namely that npower send a letter of apology, the missing bills and credit my account with token 'goodwill' payment. A couple of days later i was incensed to receive a hand delivered letter again threatening to enter my home, this was in breach of an agreement that npower would not conduct any recovery procedure on the account, consequently i contacted the Ombudsman to ask whether i may be allowed grace time to reconsider my decision. I have subsequently challenged both npower and the Ombudsman. I have repeatedly offered to settle the account (less the amount in dispute) and have asked npower to raise such a bill, which they have not. I was surprised to find npower plunging to new lows by crediting the account with the 'goodwill' gesture, whilst debiting it for the services of their debt collection agency! My challenge to both npower and the Ombudsman is that in spite of my repeated requests for a proper bill i did not receive one until the intervention of the Ombudsman, neither did anyone inform me that four bills had been generated on one day. As a result of the Ombudsman's involvement i received these bills in April '15 which covered the amount in question which was for a period ending Febraury '14. It is my contention that this constitutes backbilling. The Ombudsman are now dragging their heels, whilst npower are refusing to consider the idea that they may be backbilling, when one mentions it they refer to their earlier 'meltdown' period and refer to it as if they have done me a favour by being incompetent! They issue Act Now notices and only offer to hold the account for 7 days at a time. It's taken up far too much of my time, i don't beleive i've done anything wrong and i've had enough of it.
Hi all, I would appreciate some advice. I moved into a rented flat in Jan 2010 and lived there until I moved out in Sep 2012. Electricity was supplied by EDF, payment was by direct debit and I settled the final bill on 17th Sep 2012. EDF have now sent me a new bill for the period 27th Feb 2011 until the day I moved out with a completely different value to the my original bills (and with no explanation or covering letter). Having now spoken to them, they claim that I was billed for a single rate meter but in fact had an economy 7 meter (I honestly have no idea what sort of meter it was). The reading in the day rate section of the new bill matches my old bills but of course the night rate is brand new. While discussing the matter EDF flatly refused to accept that the error may have been their fault and even attempted to suggest that I had told them what sort of meter it was when I opened the contract (utter nonsense). When question about their meter reading agents not noticing for 33 months either they had no answer. Right now I'm waiting for them to come back to me but I have some questions: 1) Do they have a responsibility to provide me with any evidence that the meter was there while I lived there? Right now it's just a matter of trust, they could tell me anything and I wouldn't know if they were being truthful. Given their behavior on the phone I'm inclined to take what they say with a pinch of salt. How do I know they haven't just installed it and made a different error and billed me by mistake? 2) The entire bill is at different rates to my original bills, is this acceptable? I understand that if I consumed more electricity than I paid for then I'm liable (given question 1) but does that give them the right to apply a different rate to the electricity I did pay for and apply a different standing charge for the entire period? i.e. can they just switch my tariff? If so then what recourse do I have given the fact I based by choice of supplier on the price but now I'm being told to pay a different price with no ability to switch to a competitor. 3) The bill is dated 1st Mar 2013 and goes back to 27th Feb 2011. Doesn't the code of practice stipulate that they can't go back further than 12 months from the date of the bill? Does the fact I moved out have any relevance? Many thanks for your help. happy to clarify anything if needed.