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nPower - Mismanaged account, County Court claim issued aganst Npower

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The fun never stops eh? :razz: Although this is on behalf of a relative, not me this time.

 

As succinct as I can keep it:

 

1) Relative joins nPower January 2013 shortly after moving to a new property

 

2) Meter readings provided - nPower setup a monthly direct debit for £65 (dual fuel)

 

3) Relative became aware in June '13 that account had been setup incorrectly. Relative was only being billed for electric.

 

4) Took a couple of days to sort and more than one phone call, but a new direct debit of £90 was setup. This included the arrears as a result of nPower's mistake.

 

5) In September '13, relative had some maintenance work carried out on electricity supply. Discovered during this that they were still only being billed for electricity (although direct debit of £90.00 was being sent every month).

 

6) Relative was eventually told by nPower that there was a serious error with their account and the issue would be escalated. Was promised a return call - this did not happen.

 

7) Relative called nPower in December '13 as had still not heard anything. Was advised account issue still remained unresolved, and also that the account itself was showing as circa £300 in credit, plus a direct debit/dual fuel discount on top of this.

 

8) No return call from nPower. Relative phoned again - was advised complaints team were handling it and would get in touch the same day. This never happened.

 

9) Towards the end of December '13, relative phoned nPower to inform they would be switching to another provided because she was unhappy with their poor service.

 

10) Relative switched to another provider in January 2014, more or less 12 months after joining nPower.

 

11) Relative heard nothing more from nPower until April '14; they received two reminder letters from nPower for a combined total of circa £800. One letter was for gas, one for electric.

 

12) Relative spoke to nPower; disputed the sum and was advised that a full breakdown of charges, payments and usage would be sent in post (they initially refused to send this unless a letter was sent in, although they eventually changed their tune).

 

13) Relative contacted nPower again (need to check date but think June '14). Was advised this issue would be escalated to the executive complaints team. Was also advised more reminders would be generated automatically and that they could safely be ignored until the complaint was resolved.

 

14) Relative began to receive (what they presumed to be) nuisance calls that were essentially just prerecorded messages. As it turned out, these two companies (Westcot and Pastdue) were actually two separate debt collection agencies instructed by nPower; each sent a letter in September '14. Interestingly, some of the information printed on one of the letters was also incorrect (e.g. account number)

 

15) Realising now the earlier advice of nPower to ignore payment reminders was false/incorrect, a letter was sent to each of these DCA's stating the account was in dispute. A statement was also made regarding OFT debt collection guidance (unfair to pursue when in dispute). For good measure, Westcot had their implied right of access to the property withdrawn (as they had stated they would visit the property to collect payment). Relative also filed a complaint with the ombudsman around this time.

 

16) Pastdue wrote back to relative confirming they had received letter. Stated that account had been placed on hold and they would try and obtain invoice showing full breakdown of balance. No further correspondence received from these guys.

 

17) Westcot also wrote back. Merely stated the balance, that it related to the electricity supply and provided a billing period (which was seriously incorrect!). Stated they looked forward to receiving payment within 14 days. They have started phoning relative daily once again.

 

18) Ombudsman rejected complaint, stating that the date from the original issue was too far back for them to investigate. However, did advise that if relative obtained a deadlock letter from nPower they can then investigate.

 

19) Relative wrote to nPower towards the end of October '14. This outlined the dispute, a summary of the (in)action so far and a request for a deadlock letter. Sent recorded delivery, confirmed delivered, no response so far.

 

20) Relative wrote another letter to nPower last week (similar to above). Sent recorded, not showing as delivered yet. Considering resending later today if not arrived.

 

---

 

Other misc. information:

 

- Relative has log burning stoves and only uses anywhere from £6-10 a month in gas for hot water. No heating of any kind (excluding hot water of course) is necessary from ~March to ~September due to property being extremely well-insulated.

 

- Current electricity consumption averages about £45.00 a month.

 

- nPower is instructing two separate debt collection agencies to collect a portion of the "debt" even though the account was dual fuel. As per Citizen's Advice regarding harassment from creditors: "Using more than one debt collector at a time to chase you for payment" - so does this count?

 

- Relative has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Self representation is unlikely to go down well.

 

- Relative has sadly not recorded all phone calls. They have however, kept detailed notes, dates and times of each phone call with nPower - including the person they spoke to.

 

---

 

Next steps:

 

Should relative:

 

a) Just keep sending letters to nPower at £1.72 a pop until they hopefully provide the information?

 

b) Send a final LBA to nPower detailing the harassment (if applicable), filing a small claim if ignored?

 

c) Wait for nPower to take relative to court (if ever) and potentially claim on legal cover provided by house insurance for representation?

 

d) Something else?

 

 

Personally, given the chain of events, problems with the account and overall billing issues nPower has had recently, it would sound like they are physically unable to account for the money they are demanding. Who knows.

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Hi Eversir

 

Has your relative sent a SAR request to NPower? If not send it Recorded Delivery, they have 40 days to respond with all the data on the account. It will cost £10.

 

http://www.npower.com/home/about-npower/privacy-policy/

 

If they fail to provide the information, send them a chase letter, giving a further 7 days, if they fail after this then, lodge a complaint with the ICO.

 

http://ico.org.uk/

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Not yet, can get that off in the post today. What happens if they fail to respond in 40 days?

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Thanks!

 

One question: the topic with the SAR template mentions "Send this request including the £10 fee to the address which your data holder has registered with the Data Protection Commissioner as the address of the Data Controller".

 

This address is different to the one nPower states in their privacy policy, so which one should it be sent to? The privacy policy version also states that you should wait until nPower send a form by return post before making the £10 payment.

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Send it to the address on NPower's website. You can follow their procedure, if you want to, the result should be the same.

 

Thanks!

 

One question: the topic with the SAR template mentions "Send this request including the £10 fee to the address which your data holder has registered with the Data Protection Commissioner as the address of the Data Controller".

 

This address is different to the one nPower states in their privacy policy, so which one should it be sent to? The privacy policy version also states that you should wait until nPower send a form by return post before making the £10 payment.

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They are seriously in breach of debt collection guidelines if they had instructed TWO DCAs to act at the same time.


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They are seriously in breach of debt collection guidelines if they had instructed TWO DCAs to act at the same time.

 

Is this worth highlighting in a seperate letter of complaint? i.e. demand that they cease DCA activity via two DCA's as per guidelines

Obviously the SAR is going out today but was thinking about sending them another request for a deadlock letter, since the latest one hasn't arrived yet.

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I think that you should begin a claim. Partly because if you simply continue complaining to npower, even if they do finally sorted out, you will get no guarantee that your credit file or any other data will be cleaned out and also you won't get any kind of compensation.

 

Furthermore, it is clear the npower is incompetent and doesn't listen to their customers and they need a slap.

 

As you know from your previous experience with LegalCare, bringing a small claim is easy – and also you can be certain that if you win against npower (as you surely will) there will be no problem with enforcement as there was with Paul Careless and his appalling LegalCare outfit.

 

Your heads of claim here are:

 

Breach of contract – their failure to conduct the account correctly. This applies to their treatment of the account even after the account was closed so it includes their refusal to supply you with information.

 

Breach of the Data Protection Act – the mishandling of personal data and the stress caused by it.

 

Harassment – the disproportionate methods used to chase an alleged debt.

 

It is clear the npower aren't listening to you but they will do once they receive the court papers.

 

I think that in the circumstances I would be looking to make a claim of about £400 and also an order that they take steps to make sure that all personal data which has been shared is deleted.

 

To begin this claim easily, you would sue only for the compensation. Later on, once the claim is underway then you can add the request for an order. To do it at the beginning will make needless complication.

 

I would imagine that npower would rather put their hands up then go to court on this. However I would suggest that you insist on a Tomlin order so that it is all clear and official and it they realise that there is a consequence for failing to comply within the time period. Also, having a written document signed off by the judge will be enormously helpful for other people who have got their claims against npower.

 

As I'm sure that you know, we will help you all the way.


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It seems to me that there has been an awful lot of the exchange conducted on the telephone here.

 

Well done on keeping good notes of the telephone conversations. A diary of telephone exchanges is extremely important – and especially so if the calls are not recorded. However, one should always record calls – always. Keeping a log of the calls is also a good idea because it helps one have a better control over access to the relevant parts of the recordings.

 

I think that you should send an SAR to npower and see what they've got. Don't hold your hopes up that you're going to get everything from them. And it is even possible that if they find things that they think are embarrassing, that you simply won't get it

 

Once you have got the results of the SAR, I think it will be time then to write a letter to npower outlining everything that has happened so that at least there is a written record which you have created and given to them.

 

It is very clear that they have breached their obligations in respect of the conduct of your account. This itself is a breach of contract and they have no chance of winning an action against them on that basis.

 

When you have.the results of the SAR, come back here, let us know and we will set about the next step.

 

I think that the energy ombudsman is even more useless than the financial ombudsman. Frankly, don't bother – it's just a waste of time.


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As always Bankfodder, thank you for your sound advice.

 

Will get this SAR off ASAP and post back when we hear something. Annoying then can hide stuff if they want though, although I suppose they might trip themselves up if they do that (i.e. call records & recordings).

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Within the SAR, you should receive back a communication log/diary of events - which SHOULD detail any action they have taken on the account..eg letter sent on XYZ - telephone call from or to the customer on XYZ with a short entry of what it was in aid of..

 

IMHO, if you have a detailed record of phone calls and your comlog comes up short, then you could request they provide you with an accurate account of what has gone on and would be further fuel to take to the ICO or to add to your Court claim.


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Thanks citizenB, will keep an eye out for any discrepancies when they come back. Also sent one to Wescot, seeing as though the account information they quoted was completely wrong anyway.

 

Additional info regarding harassment from creditors:

 

Seem to be discussed in the Administration of Justice Act 1970, Section 40:

 

40 Punishment for unlawful harassment of debtors.

 

(1)A person commits an offence if, with the object of coercing another person to pay money claimed from the other as a debt due under a contract, he—

(a)harasses the other with demands for payment which, in respect of their frequency or the manner or occasion of making any such demand, or of any threat or publicity by which any demand is accompanied, are calculated to subject him or members of his family or household to alarm, distress or humiliation;

There is also some stuff in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997:

 

1 Prohibition of harassment.

 

(1)A person must not pursue a course of conduct—

(a)which amounts to harassment of another, and

(b)which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.

 

(2)For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.

 

(3)Subsection (1) does not apply to a course of conduct if the person who pursued it shows—

(a)that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,

(b)that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or

©that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.

Although from this I think it's really the judge's call as to what is reasonable and what is not (i.e. no specific mention of multiple DCAs instructed simultaneously). There may be some stuff from the OFT (now closed) and the FCA, although it would appear these rules might only apply to regulated consumer credit (which I'm not certain this is).

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Received a letter today from Wescot. Very generic looking, but the gist:

 

- Conducted additional checks to ensure they have the correct address details on file (confirmed)

- Threatening a doorstep visit to the property

 

This is despite previous letter to Wescot informing them of a dispute, and also that their implied access rights to the property have been withdrawn.

No statement of account has yet been provided by either nPower or Wescot.

 

Send them a letter or ignore? (or make a complaint to the FCA?)

 

Edit:

 

FCA was a waste of time (for the most part). According to them, the account with nPower doesn't fall under a regulated credit agreement and hence the activity relating to it isn't within their remit. Merely refered me to The Ministry of Justice. They did log the information though; apparently they use it to build up a profile of debt collection agencies?

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I would say you should send them a letter so that you can show you have gone to max effort and also that you establish the fullest paper trail possible


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FCA was a waste of time (for the most part). According to them, the account with npower doesn't fall under a regulated credit agreement and hence the activity relating to it isn't within their remit. Merely referred me to The Ministry of Justice. They did log the information though; apparently they use it to build up a profile of debt collection agencies?

 

Unfortunately it is so that they will not interfere in individual complaints (pretty much like the OFT). They are however looking into the practices of all the Credit industry - DCAs - DMPs etc. So the more complaints they receive, the swifter they should act.


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Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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Brief update:

 

nPower today provided a statement of account for the property (finally in response to the numerous letters). It does not detail a breakdown of the charges/usage but it does highlight some very startling errors. Take a look:

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]54392[/ATTACH]

 

1. Relative did not move into the property until October 2012

2. Relative did not change to nPower until mid-December 2012 (earlier post said January '12 - my mistake)

3. Previous occupant was with British Gas and not nPower

 

Opening balance is showing as 27th April 2012 (impossible). Note also the numerous "payment received" up until November 2012, followed by generated bills (and subsequently cancelled bills) through to June 2013. A similar thing seems to happen from July 2013 to statement end.

 

Confusing? We can't make heads or tails of what has been going on either. Think we might just wait for the SAR response before taking this any further with nPower, but it doesn't take a genius to see something is very wrong with how they have handled the account.

 

Edit: Also, Wescot will not cease their phone calls despite them receiving a second letter on Friday last week. This one quoted all the FCA code of conduct they were in breach of, for what it was worth.

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Response from Wescot regarding SAR:

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]54418[/ATTACH]

 

Are they allowed to do this and is what they are saying correct?

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Response from Wescot regarding SAR:

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]54418[/ATTACH]

 

Are they allowed to do this and is what they are saying correct?

 

It's nonsense. I have seen this somewhere before a long time ago.

 

This needs an immediate complaint to the ICO.

Write and tell them that you do not accept their position and that they are merely trying to escate their obligations under the DPA and that you are complaining to the ICO who you are confident will instruct them that they are wrong.

 

Write immediately to the ICO.


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This all sounds like a disaster and I'm about to head down a similiar route with npower. Received a bill for over £2400 with no breakdown or itemisation! Demanding immediate payment!

 

To summarise, we switched to npower in Dec 2012 and initially all was well until they stopped taking Direct Debit payments, then they said our account was cancelled, and then they bombarded us with 'you are a valued customer' letters and requested that we bear with them until they sorted their 'new' billing system. No satisfaction with telephone calls to them. No one seemed to know what our bill might be or any amount outstanding!

We switched Bank Account after 6 months of this as we worried that at some point they would simply take money from our account.

 

I'm not sure where to start with this. Npower letters are increasingly threatening and they appear to bear no responsibility or acknowledgement for their own incompetence.

Even at this stage the bill they sent with money owing was an estimate. I'm not sure they know what we owe and are guessing.

 

Please advise if you can. We are willing to pay what we owe but not something that cannot be substantiated.

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Uploading documents to CAG ** Instructions **

 

Looking for a draft letter? Use the CAG Library

Dealing with Customer Service Departments? - read the CAG Guide first

 

1: Making a PPI claim ? - Q & A's and spreadsheets for single premium policy -

HERE

2: Take back control of your finances -

Debt Diaries

3: Feel Bullied by Creditors or Debt Collectors?

Read Here

4: Staying Calm About Debt

Read Here

5: Forum rules - These have been updated -

Please Read

 

 

BCOBS

 

2: Does your Bank play fair - You can force your Bank to play Fair with you

3: Banking Conduct of Business Regulations - The Hidden Rules

4: BCOBS and Unfair Treatment - Common Examples of Banks Behaving Badly

5: Fair Treatment for Credit Card Holders and Borrowers - COBS

 

 

 

Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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Taken from Daisy's thread the other day:

 

---------

 

Will be sending a letter before actionlink3.gif today, giving Npower one final opportunity to make a sensible offer that takes into account the stress/anxiety caused, breach of contract and regulatory code of conduct, plus expenses and inconvenience incurred trying to resolve issue over a number of months.

 

The complaint to ICOlink3.gif was sent last week. Not heard anything back yet.

 

Wescot Credit Services Ltd is still hounding on a daily basis despite multiple letters informing there is a dispute - totally flouting FCA code of conduct. Unbelievable.

 

-----

 

Today:

 

Response from ICO:

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]54608[/ATTACH]

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This is not an acceptable response and I am sure that somewhere on the forum a similar issue cropped up and the decision was completely different.

 

I think that you should send a letter objecting to their decision. Tell them that you are quite sure that they will have added to the data received from Npower - otherwise they would not be able to do their job. Therefore, Wescot are subject to the DPA disclosure requirements unless they can undertake that there is no new data of any kind which has been added to their file. Tell them that as you have been in correspondence with them and because they must be updating their files at least as to their contacts with you, the ICO position is not tenable

 

I'm afraid that once again you get the very limited and conservative approach of the regulatory authorities. They have forgotten that they are meant to be a protector if human rights but in fact in keeping with others, they have become too close to business interests.


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Thanks Bankfodder, that letter threw me a bit. We've got a response off to the ICO as per the above.

 

Probably preaching to the choir, but it's so wrong that these so called regulatory authorities can exist and fail to do what they were created for. At the tax payer's expense too, I presume. :evil:

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Brief update. Npower have written to say:

 

"We're sorry we weren't able to resolve your issue straightaway. We've now assigned it to one of the advisers in our Complaints Team, who will ensure it is resolved and keep you informed of progress."

 

You have to ask what they've been doing these past 18 months if they're only just "now" assigning it to their Complaints Team. Again.

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