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nPower breaking rebilling agreement made last year

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Apologies if this is a familiar story, for me it's gone on for nearly 5 years.

It's so convoluted, everything nPower touch as been cack-handed and mishandled.

 

I've only just discovered this site & its guides,

so apologies if I've done everything wrong from day one,

but I never expected to be here.

 

A lot of this is now from memory,

because last year (May 2016) nPower agreed to rebill my entire bill back to the beginning of my contract,

accepted my payment schedule,

and offered humble apologies for the terrible customer care I had experienced.

 

In a fit of catharsis I disposed of all my notes, back bills, and paperwork.

I was very relieved.

This year, they've decided to go back on that agreement.

Now I'm shafted.

 

All i ever wanted was a reasonably accurate bill, and an affordable payment schedule for the back debt. And not to be treated like a slave.

 

As a self-employed person with a seasonal variation in income throughout the year,

I was on QB,

and was already behind with the bill,

but paying in big chunks as an when I could to clear it intermittently.

I'm not a perfect customer,

But I don't expect to be treated like I have been.

 

It all went wrong between me and nPower when a meter change

(old standard meter XC for a newer standard meter)

in Feb 2013 was not processed properly by nPower,

meaning they continued to generate bills based on an estimated reading on the old meter.

 

This change coincided with my disconnecting an old gas boiler,

meaning usage went down from ~£2000PA to zero (no gas cooker, fires, or boiler)

- standing charge notwithstanding.

 

Electricity usage remains high at around £2000PA.

 

I provided correct reading many times,

but these could not be entered as the old meter details were still on the account.

 

An accurate bill was not produced,

and the outstanding balance (overinflated by ~50% on estimated readings) eventually exceeded £5000 and was passed to the High Value Credit team.

 

I repeatedly asked for help in getting the account sorted out,

and explained that the estimated bill was vastly inflated,

could not be fully paid,

and would need some indication what the real amount should be.

 

It took, I think, nearly a year to actually communicate the nature of the problem to nPower's customer care.

I was eventually told the account would have to be put on hold for a 3-month investigation into the meter exchange,

and that I could do nothing in this time.

The account would be placed on hold during this time.

 

Despite "the account being on hold" escalating collection letter continued to arrive.

I queried each one with nPower's customer care and was told to ignore them,

that the account was DEFINITELY on hold,

and there was nothing more to be done until the investigation as complete.

 

Then they took out a CCJ against me. WHILST THE ACCOUNT WAS ON HOLD.

 

I rang to complain and enquire about all of this, vocally and especially the CCJ.

I was told again that the account was still on hold whilst they investigated the fitment of a (they'd not said this before) "Prepayment meter".

 

I hit the roof:

not only was the CCJ occurring despite their assurances and instructions,

but they'd wasted nearly 3-months investigating something that nobody had ever said

(it was a standard meter, a like for like exchange - just a newer meter).

 

Retrospectively it seems that no "complaint" was raised,

despite my dozens of calls "complaining" vociferously.

 

I must not have said the magic words.

It seems merely complaining about a serious screw-up that has resulted in me getting a CCJ doesn't actually classify as complaining.

 

At some point a solicitor's letter arrived from Wilkin Chapman solicitors. WHILST THE ACCOUNT WAS ON HOLD.

I remember making two initial calls to nPower regarding the solicitor's letter,

nPower's customer care actually advised me that they'd never heard of Wilkin Chapman,

that it was probably some kind of fraud attempt,

and that I should ignore it/contact police.

 

Given the amounts quoted tallied with nPower's bills,

I disputed this advice,

but it took a third call about a week later to find someone who HAD heard of Wilkin Chapman.

 

At some point someone called by a senior customer service manager

- took over handling of the messed up account,

and retrospectively seems to have made things worse.

 

It now seems that she has retroactively created a second account for the same address for the new meter,

which allowed the new and old meters to be accurately billed at last,

but set off two independent streams of collections processes for the two accounts.

 

Sadly she didn't inform me of any of this and just instructed me to

"ignore everything that comes from nPower and wait to hear from our solicitors"

(I said are you sure you want to instruct me to "ignore everything that comes from nPower and wait to hear from our solicitors"?

She replied "Yes" - so I did, and I did not hear from their solicitors from that point forward.

 

In April 2016 I called nPower and spoke to their High Value Credit team, after not speaking to them for around 2 years.

I explained the history as best I could from my (then relatively detailed) notes, and offered a way out of the deadlock:

 

1) I was (and am) happy to pay for my usage, but given the lack of sanity of nPower's customer care during the entire period I had been a customer, i wanted the account rebilling on the cheapest tariffs available retroactively, as if I'd been able to switch properly during that time.

 

2) I wanted a payment plan for the back debt at a reasonable and affordable rate;

 

3) I wanted a detailed acknowledgement and apology for the hell they had put me through.

 

The adviser said "I doubt you'll get those things, but I'll ask my manager."

Five minutes later he came back with a "Yes, Sir."

 

He said that it would take a few months to do the rebilling,

and there'll be a lot of noise produced by way of paperwork,

but eventually it will settle down into a final bill and we can then set up a plan.

 

All good,

all went as planned,

it was actually September that we set up the plan,

and the first payment was made in October.

Scheduled to pay off the full amount (~£6500 + ongoing usage) over around 24-30 months.

All was well, every payment made by direct debit.

 

Come May 2017,

I have another creditor to pay,

so call to reduce my payment temporarily down to current usage only for 6 months,

then it woud return to the full amount.

 

No problem, all went well, new reduced payment set up and everyone is happy.

 

At the call conclusion the adviser casually asks

"but what are you doing about your other account Sir?"

 

Me: "What other account?"

 

Adviser: "The one that's at the high court with a balance of ~£3000"

Me: ""

 

The adviser suggested I open a complaint, and we have gone from there.

It's now 6 months on, and now reached deadlock letter stage,

and I raised it with the Ombudsman on Friday.

 

As I look back on the "noise" received after April 2016,

whilst the accounts were being recalculated,

there are actually two letters informing me that the balance from a closed account was being transferred onto the current one.

 

It seems now that this has been reversed after the fact by a rogue internal department (the "litigation" team) operating with no regard to agreements made via customer care. The litigation team seems to be accountable to no-one.

 

At the start of the complaint process I infomed nPower that I would be suspending payments to my account

(the only on I knew about, the live account) pending the outcome of the complaint.

I was told this was understandable, and the accounts would be put on hold until November to prevent escalation.

 

Initially they seemed to agree that the additional accounts & balnaces were their error,

and that they would try to make the balance disappear by back-billing.

 

This wasted 3 months,

during which time they said they needed to test my meter in situ (due to showing zero usage) only to send the same meter+ guy round to CHANGE the meter as had fitted the previous one.

 

I had a good chat with the guy,

and he informed me there is no functional in-situ check that meter+ offer - again,

nPower were just literally making it up to kick the ball down the road & waste my time & energy.

Meter+ dude showed me his survey report: no faults, capped & no appliances connected.

 

I called nPower a week or so later to move it on and ask why they had wasted more of my life's days,

and what exactly they had meant by this non-existent functional check.

 

With no word of a lie,

they told me that the meter dude had identified a fault,

and that they needed to make an appt to change the meter.

 

I called them liars.

I told them I had seen the report.

I told them what the report said.

I told them they were wasting my time,

and lying to my face.

I refused to arrange another apointment.

Somehow the complaint rattled on,

I'm not sure if "back billing" was ever actually looked at though...

 

However, back on track:

whilst "the accounts have been on hold" during this complaint process,

nPower have been once again continuing to escalate the collection process on the live account.

 

Each letter I receive I have queried with the "Escalated/Executive complaints team,

and been told that yes, the account is on hold and that I should not be getting these.

 

As per the deadlock letter date,

the live account is no longer on hold,

however nPower intend to CONTINUE the collection process from the escalated state it has reached WHILST THE ACOUNT HAS BEEN ON HOLD.

The other account I have been told to contact their solicitor to make arrangements.

 

I've now informed nPower that I consider their continuing a collection process from a pre-esalated state into which it had been placed whilst the account was "on hold" (and the instruction to contact their solicitor, in contradiction to their previous agreement) as forms of harrassment and required and reqested them to cease and decist this action immediately.

 

They have also refused to reinstate the payment arrangement which was agreed and in place from Oct 16 - May 17 (which had paid off about 25% of the debt by May 17), I'm having to fill out earnings/expenses forms to 'negotiate' a new payment level agreement.

 

I despise these utter lying bar stewards,

I no longer see myself ever having a good relationship with nPower ever again,

as there is no trust.

 

I not only want them off my back,

I want them to feel pain for the hell they have put me through.

 

My main worry is that I haven't got the paperwork anymore:

this is a battle I had already fought and won... or so I thought.

 

FYI I've spoken many times with the meter dude who did the changeover:

to this day he still has to process a meter change request every time he reads the meter.

Meter+ did their bit right,

he says he knows loads of other nPower victims/customers this has happened to aswell (very scary).

 

Apologies for the length of the post,

I'll try to add bits in, clarify, and correct as I can

- it's a horrendous mess,

and it's hard to even begin trying to describe "the problem with nPower" that I continue to have.

 

I thought I had what I wanted: a reasonably accurate bill,

and an affordable payment schedule for the back debt.

And not to be treated like a slave.

 

I can't believe they can go back on the agreement like this.

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send them an SAR get all the paperwork.

 

dx


..

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Thanks, that's my next step on Monday. I understand it can take up to 40 days though.

Would it be worthwhile to put in a second SAR requesting call recordings once I get the relevant dates from the notes?

 

Quite worried that I've got very little to send to the Ombudsman by way of supporting evidence in the meantime (8 days left), am hoping to refer to the 2016 agreement as a baseline, but even evidence of that will rely on nPower's notes & admin. :(

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call recording should be included ask for them

sadsly though

as you probably now know

you should NEVER do this over the phone

as you'll have no papertrail

 

as for the 8 days left?

who's stating that?

 

dx


..

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Thanks, I'll include that all in one request.

Valid point regarding telephone, hopefully the recordings will plug that gap.

 

I thought the ombudsman only allowed up to 10 days to supply supporting evidence, but I could be wrong on that. Since speaking to them (yep, I did that over the phone too :( ) I haven't since had the energy to log on to the portal and scan everything in.

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ombudsman-services DOT org/sectors/energy

 

I can't post a url due to posting restrictions on newbies (sensible anti-spambot policy imho).

 

Ofgem links to this website too.

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well simply tell them you are awaiting an sar return


..

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I'm afraid that the problems you are experiencing are pretty typical of Npower – although recently we haven't heard so many complaints.

 

As you have been advised, send an SAR and do it straightaway. Send it accompanied by a cheque and also send it recorded. It is very important that you keep control of it all. Sending a cheque will allow you consult your bank account in a few days time and to see whether or not the cheque has been cashed.

 

Don't expect Npower to make a full statutory disclosure immediately, or on time – or willingly.

 

Additionally, it seems that you have been issued court proceedings and that there is a CC J on your file. I suppose that you don't have any of the papers relating to this either. You should contact the court and get them to send you everything – including original claim form and also a copy of the judgement.

 

I see that there may be some High Court action against you. What you know about this? You need to spend this week building up your entire file. You won't be able to do anything without all of the information.

 

You have been warned not to get onto the telephone to these people. That's not strictly correct. You should follow our customer services guide and then install a call recorder. Once you are recording your calls then I would suggest that you make several calls to them and start querying things. Each time you speak to somebody different and quite often you will get a different story or a different set of excuses – and sometimes you will get admissions. All of these recordings should form part of your file. You never know but you might get something extremely helpful to if you persist in your phone calls and persist in the questions that you ask various people you speak to. Once again, read our customer services guide first some hints about how to conduct conversations with customer service people.

 

Our previous experiences with Npower legal department are that they are a bunch of bullies.

 

We can probably help you sort this out – but don't expect it to be easy or quick. However, you clearly need to take some emergency action – especially if there is something with the High Court.

 

It crosses my mind that there may be a judgement against you which would normally be enforceable by bailiffs. County Court bailiffs are pretty ineffectual. However, when a judgement reaches a certain level then it can be transferred to the High Court and then the High Court sheriffs can be ordered in and they are far more effective and also they are very expensive – and it will be you who ends up paying the fee.

This is one of the reasons why you need to start moving very quickly.

 

Don't trust Npower with anything.

 

Finally, your opening post is extremely long winded – as you probably realise.

 

It would be very helpful if you would go through all and try to cut out a lot of the narrative and simply give us a bullet pointed chronology of what has happened. It will make things much easier for everyone to understand and you will get a better quality of help


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If the OP is facing HCEOs : bear in mind they have no power to force entry into your home for a civil debt.

 

Don’t let them in (not to use the loo, not to “phone the office to sort this out’l. Don’t open the door to them, and keep your windows closed / locked.

 

Don’t keep a car (if not on hire purchase / finance) nearby as they may clamp it / try to remove it.....

 

The aim will be to have the HCEOs go away empty-handed while you get any CCJ unwound.

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