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Npower - 2 year nightmare - Please help

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what evidence did they rely upon to say that it was underestimated? Do you agree?

 

This was last meter reading - 30th November

 

Day

0 Our estimate

31 October 2018

303 Our reading

30 November 2018

303 kWh at 14.790p £44.81

 

Night

0 Our estimate

31 October 2018

63 Our reading

30 November 2018

63 kWh at 7.550p £4.76

 

I have no idea what you are saying here. What does "0" mean????


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Send an SAR to the Ombudsman


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This was last meter reading - 30th November

 

Day

0 Our estimate

31 October 2018

303 Our reading

30 November 2018

303 kWh at 14.790p £44.81

 

Night

0 Our estimate

31 October 2018

63 Our reading

30 November 2018

63 kWh at 7.550p £4.76

 

When the new meter was installed, it was set at 0

 

Regarding it being underestimated, no, I thought it was about right. It was always between 40-60 (went over winter months), so yeah, that seemed about right.

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read our customer services guide and then having implemented the advice there start telephoning npower and find information about this latest very large bill.

 

Don't bother to start telephone unless you have implemented the advice in our customer services guide


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Okay shall do that. I'll download the APP tonight and then call tomorrow afternoon (if they are open).

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Have you worked the figures out yourself - according to my calculation they are still wrong?


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Have you worked the figures out yourself - according to my calculation they are still wrong?

 

Figures they knocked of the overall units?

 

Day rate: The total unit consumptions used during this period was - 14339 units. When doing my calculations 58.82% of that is - 8434.19 units.

Remove that from 38692 is 30257 (rounding down to nearest unit)

 

Night rate: Total unit consumption used during this period was 9280 units. When calculations 58.82% of that is - 5458.49 units.

Remove that from 13555 is 8100 (again rounded down to nearest unit)

 

That's my calculation.

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Bit different from theirs! Could be their Abacus is short of a few beads.


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Posted (edited)

Called them, followed advice and was recorded.

They’ve stated that because of previous bills it’s an estimate which will come down as new readings go in.

Sounds fair enough I guess.

 

This led me onto looking at readings and what not on my online account.

I then discovered that 2018 has been amended to reflect new amounts etc, but 2017 has not been touched in the slightest.

 

Waiting for SAR to come through now.

Think they’ve got around 14 days now.

Edited by dx100uk
spacing

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Well there isn't any big hurry because you are waiting for the results of the disclosure. However, for the moment I'm still completely confused as to what the story is about.

 

I suppose that's partly a function of the fact that I've been away and looking at a lot of this through telephone screen – but also I think that it's the way that the story has gradually been teased out.

 

The only thing I can understand is that Npower originally installed a faulty meter – or at least the existing meter was wrong. Would it be correct to say that all of the problems stemmed from that faulty meter?

 

I suppose this sounds like a load of nuisance but frankly I'd be very grateful if you could possibly start a new thread and just try to go through it with a bullet pointed chronology – step-by-step – as little narrative as possible so that maybe then I can make head or tail out of it.

 

I really don't understand what on earth is happening here.

 

I must say that when you tell us that Npower say that the problem is caused by previous bills and that the outstanding will come down as new readings go in, I simply get a bad feeling and it sounds like you're getting a load of flannel

 

I don't trust these people and I think you would be foolish to do so. What you've been told on the phone sounds like the kind of thing that Npower customer service staff say when they really don't understand at all is going on so they find something basically gets you off the phone.

 

I'm sorry if I'm being unnecessarily sceptical – and maybe I'm completely wrong because as I say I really don't understand what's going on.

 

If I could get a complete picture of the story I'd be very pleased to suggest the next step.


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I've been through the whole thread again - and this is what I understand so far

 

Feb 2017 – Npower installs new meter

May 2017 Bills start increasing

Npower refused to accept any error

Nov 2017 Went to Ombudsman

Dec 2017 Ombudsman found for Npower

December 2017 - Npower then offered to accept £157 per month to settle arrears

October 2018 - Npower unilaterally raised to payments to £344 PCM

October 20-18 Npower arranged a meter test

The test showed that the meter was faulty – 58.8% fast

Oct 2018 New meter fitted and Npower agreed to revise the billing

???? when??? Npower miscalculated Please explain

Dec 2018 Ombudsman are considering whether to revisit the complaint

 

 

You can see that I have lost the thread just after October 2018 in respect of Npower's miscalculation. Please can you explain.

 

The 2016 to 2017 bill which energy Ombudsman investigator Lucy Clark has referred to seems to me to be irrelevant. You are not querying that part of the billing – or that metering . Why on earth did she refer to that? Did you raise that issue? It has totally nothing to do with the ongoing problem. Why did Lucy Clark get involved with that. And of course, it would have been so easy for her to have recommended a test of the meter and everything would been solved. She seems to have made a decision simply based on the evidence presented to her without any kind of questioning. It's a sort of bland blind gullibility. I'm afraid it's the kind of thing that one expects from the ombudsman whether they are the financial ombudsman service or the energy ombudsman. They expect the general public to put their faith in these institutions.

 

On your calculation so far, disregarding the 2016 meter which unless I'm very sorely mistaken is completely irrelevant despite what Lucy Clark says, how much do you think you should have paid – in 2017 and then in 2018.

 

There is an industry code now which allows backbilling only for 12 months. It seems a reasonable argument to me to say that as they didn't bill correctly that any eventual billing can only be valid for the 12 months preceding the moment that they started to get it right. I think there is an argument to say that they are not entitled to rely on incorrect billing and to say that it does not come within the back billing rules even though it's inaccurate because they will simply go back and correct it. This has to be wrong.

It seems to me that there is a good basis for saying that if they don't do accurate billing then they surrender the right to go back beyond 12 months to correct it.

 

Please can you tell me what you think I've missed out in my understanding of the story so far.

 

On the basis of the position which I have just suggested, it seems to me that they would only be entitled to back bill from October 2018 to November 2017. I'd like to know what the figures are those two periods please.

 

Let me know if you agree with this hypothesis


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Got your message, will try and reply in full at some point today. You’re pretty much on the money though!

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Good but we need you to fill in the gaps in the story and also we need to understand what your losses are.

 

After that, you will have to make a decision as to whether to continue with the ombudsman or whether you want to try your hand at the County Court claim.

 

It seems to me that is reasonable to bring up the back billing code and then to say that it is an implied clause in it that if billing does take place then it must be based on accurate information and that if it is not based on accurate information then it cannot count as legitimate billing. If you can get the court to accept that argument then the court will disregard any billing which goes beyond 12 months because the the code of practice can be taken to comprise part of the overall contract.

 

I had said that the previous 2016 meter was not relevant but in fact is very helpful because it will be very persuasive to be able to show that Npower has installed a series of broken meters – and it is about time that they took responsibility for it.


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Thank you! Really sorry I haven’t come back, literally been swamped. A little disheartened as Npower have sent me a form to fill out regarding the SAR. I thought they couldn’t do that? 10 days wasted and then 28 when they get the form back :mad2::mad2::mad2:

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Npower aren't allowed to do that – but for the moment you better comply simply to move it along.

 

In the meantime, I thought you were going to fill in the gaps – but you haven't done the either.

 

Also, I'd ask you to tell us about your losses and about the figures but I notice that you haven't put that up either.

 

If you want to do this then you need to start to engage with this thread properly.


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Sorry, as said, swamped the past few days. Just finishing off one more thing and will reply tonight!

 

I actually saw they couldn’t do that when I had a quick look and sent them this back.

 

Hello,

 

I have today received a letter stating that you need to verify my details in order to comply with a standard Subject Access Request.

 

Please note that I have provided you with the required information, sent from the email address held on the account, account numbers, and home address the accounts are registered.

 

As per ICO you are not permitted to make someone fill out a specifically designed form for a standard SAR. Please see follow extract from ICO website:

 

Should we provide a specially designed form for individuals to make a subject access request?

 

Standard forms can make it easier both for you to recognise a subject access request and for the individual to include all the details you might need to locate the information they want.

 

Recital 59 of the GDPR recommends that organisations ‘provide means for requests to be made electronically, especially where personal data are processed by electronic means’. You should therefore consider designing a subject access form that individuals can complete and submit to you electronically.

 

However, even if you have a form, you should note that a subject access request is valid if it is submitted by any means, so you will still need to comply with any requests you receive in a letter, a standard email or verbally.

 

Therefore, although you may invite individuals to use a form, you must make it clear that it is not compulsory and do not try to use this as a way of extending the one month time limit for responding.

 

I feel at the present moment you are obfuscating the process. I will not be filling out your form, and as initial request was made on the 29th December, you have 14 days remaining in which to comply with the Subject Access Request as is my right under GDPR law, or a complaint shall be raised to ICO.

 

Many thanks,

 

You can see that I have lost the thread just after October 2018 in respect of Npower's miscalculation. Please can you explain.

 

So October 30th a new meter was installed replacing the old meter. At this point email came through to state that a reply will be given in regards to adjusting the balance and units used since the faulty meter was installed in Feb 2017.

This was the email he sent to us (will make bold so to distinguish from other parts.

 

Our analysis shows that your previous meter has recorded high usage since it was installed on 28.02.2017 therefore, your account will be amended for the full period the meter was installed.

 

Start Date: 28.02.2017

Start Read Day: 24353

Start Read Night: 4275

 

Meter Removed: 29.10.2018

Removed Read Day: 38692

Removed Read Night: 13555

 

Based on the meter recording 58.82% Fast the removal readings have been amended to:

 

Amended Read Day:33381 – Removing 5311 Day Units

Amended Read Night: 10118 – Removing 3437 Night units

 

The billing on your account has been reversed and the incorrect final meter readings have now been removed. The removal readings have now been amended as outlined above and we have billed the account to the installation readings from your new meter.

 

The balance on your account detailed within your last bill dated 14.09.2018 was £1,926.72 debit, which was billed to estimated meter readings from 13.09.2018. The new balance on your account after adding the new amended removal readings is now £1,151.90 debit. Please allow 3-5 working days to receive your new statement within your online account facility.

The 2016 to 2017 bill which energy Ombudsman investigator Lucy Clark has referred to seems to me to be irrelevant. You are not querying that part of the billing – or that metering . Why on earth did she refer to that? Did you raise that issue?

 

At no point was this issue raised, but something that Npower highlighted by saying based on that meter we were being undercharged, and that new billing was more in line with what we should be using.

 

Now we never complained about the old meter and it’s readings, that is roughly what we were expecting to pay. In hindsight we should have just left it and none of this would have happened.

 

I have no idea why she even looked at it.

 

how much do you think you should have paid – in 2017 and then in 2018.

 

I would roughly say between £700 - £800, in or around that.

N-Power had us call the energy efficiency team to get a quote on how much they think we should be paying, and they stated £760, and that was September 2018 just gone (I have a copy of this report).

 

it seems to me that they would only be entitled to back bill from October 2018 to November 2017. I'd like to know what the figures are those two periods please.

 

Regarding this I would have to wait for the SAR to come back to myself for full amounts requested, as I don’t have these, as they have amended 2018 billings.

 

November 2017 - £338.47

December 2017 - £159.54

 

December seems wrong as that is low! I’m wondering if they have amended that one, but couldn’t be sure..

 

I agree in regards to back billing, as the meter was not installed until November 17 (essentially) then everything prior must be discounted as Npower have failed to maintain accurate records, through what is essentially their own doing. Is that what you mean?

 

Not that it is relevant, but since new meter, we have paid £1873 to npower

 

Sorry going back to another point you raised

 

what evidence did they rely upon to say that it was underestimated? Do you agree?

 

So the evidence they have went to Lucy Clark originally.

 

In her final reply she stated the following

“I have reviewed the usage you have been billed for during the period 4 July 2016 to 28 February 2017 as this was estimated by npower.

The usage has been billed as 12 units per day with 30% being charged on the day rate and 70% being charged on the night rate which carries a lower unit rate.

 

I have then looked at the usage on your new meter.

This records 30 units being used per day which is not excessive for an electric only property.

The split on the day and night rates is 75% day and 25% night.

This means the majority of your usage is charged on the higher rate.

 

I understand there was an issue previously with the reads being transposed but this has been resolved and I have based my analysis on the correct readings as per the load tests which were completed with yourself and npower that confirmed which rate is which.“

 

The part in bold I have just seen and had a thought about.

She was basing the fact the original bill was under estimated due to load tests that were done by myself on a meter that was now running fast at 58.82%.

 

she then goes onto say

“I am of the view when npower estimated your usage for the faulty meter it underestimated this.

However this is in your favour as it estimated a lower number of units being used per day and the majority of the usage being on the night rate which carries a lower charge.

So although this is a service shortfall, I do not consider it is detrimental to you.”

 

Obviously I did not agree to that, at the time it got me nowhere though.

Edited by BankFodder
arrange quotes for clarity

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Okay. First of all, your letter to Npower about their data protection breach is excellent and very powerful. The only problem is that since GDPR, the timescales for the ICO dealing with consumer complaints has increased catastrophically.

 

If you make a complaint to the ICO, you will have to break their arms in order to get a reference number and then eventually when you do, they will then inform you that after the issue of the reference number it will take anything from six weeks to 3 months before the complaint is even allocated to an investigator.

 

Before GDPR there was a much smaller level of complaint, you would normally get an email within six weeks expressing an opinion that such and such company were unlikely to have complied with their data protection obligations.

 

Personally I think the GDPR has backfired. I don't think it has changed anything other than opened a deluge of complaints to the ICO which because the ICO is under-resourced, has played into the hands of the companies because they are even less worried than before about complaints being made about them because by the time the complaint is looked at, the complainant is fed up or has forgotten about it and anyway, or the matter they are dealing with such as a complaint against a bank or against a utility company has moved on.

 

I think I have to ask now what you prepared to do about all of this. You seem to be very short of time and you are having difficulty prioritising this issue. If this is going to cause difficulties for you taking very aggressive and assertive action against Npower then you might be better off simply relying on the energy ombudsman and the ICO – and take your chances there. Frankly I don't hold out much hope of a very interesting result.

 

On the other hand, if you think that you could start to prioritise this issue rather more than you have done so far then I would recommend a County Court action and in fact I would start off by bringing a very small and very modest action for breach of the data protection act for their failure to supply you with the documents that you want within the 30 day limit (I'm assuming that they will breach this limit) and also about placing unnecessary obstacles in your way because it is clear that they are prepared to send you bills and demands and threats to your address address to you – all of which contain sensitive personal data – but when it comes to asking for a statutory disclosure, suddenly they get up themselves and create unjustifiable obstacles.

 

If you wanted to take this kind of action then in my view it would be very straightforward and a minimal risk because you would only sue for about £50 so your exposure if you actually got to paying a hearing fee would probably only be £150 or so.

There would be a very high chance that you would win in which case you would get all of your expenses back. Also you would have fired a shot across their bows and if you've never taken a County Court action before then then it would be a very good learning experience and you would get transferable skills in order to sue them for a larger amount – or anyone else you wanted. I would expect that if it went to court your chances of success would be better than 80%. If you decided to take this step, then I would fully expect that they would try to settle out of court and I would recommend that you refuse the settlement and that you insist on a judgement. You are entitled to reject a full offer on a County Court claim if it is reasonable to do so. In this case you would be suing for breach of statutory duty and in my view this means that they have committed an unlawful act and also there is a public interest. If you obtained a judgement you then refer it to the ICO and also to the energy regulator and they would have to take notice. I'm quite sure that it would be reasonable to continue a claim for statutory duty against Npower even in the face of an offer a full settlement.

 

You might be amused to know that I have assisted two other people with similar claims for breach of statutory duty – one under the DPA and one under BCOBS. In both cases the defendant settled. In the DPA case the claimant sued for £200 and the defendant eventually offered them £800 in order to drop the claim. In the BCOBS case, the defendant originally sued for £300 and the defendant eventually offered £7500. At that point the person I was assisting stopped contacting me and I'm quite certain that this was one of the conditions of the offer which of course was made confidentially.

 

Both of the above offers were made confidentially so I really can't give you any more detail. However, I can tell you that both of them were banks and I am sure that they were worried about the reaction of the FCA after the judgment would be referred to them.. I can't imagine Npower being so worried about protecting its reputation or about regulatory disapproval but you never know they might be prepared to offer you more than you are claiming – but really the objective would be to get the judgement against them. They need a slap.

 

I eventually foresee that you're going to have to sue them for breach of contract in that they have failed to apply the terms implied by the back billing code. I would expect that if it went to court your chances of success would be better than 85%.

 

So now I think you need to decide how much of your own personal resource you want to put into this – and that also does mean that you engage with this thread.


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So now I think you need to decide how much of your own personal resource you want to put into this – and that also does mean that you engage with this thread.

 

As said, I want to take them to court, I'm fed up of being pushed around by them and even though it won't change the practices, it would be a small victory and an FU to them. I think it is disgusting the way they treat people.

I will engage with the thread, but as I did say, I do not have that much down time as I work away from home on deployment at moment, and do not have a laptop (might well invest in a Chromebook though, they seem decent), find it difficult to navigate this site without one (Probably similar to you the other week).

 

I go away on holiday 10/02, but due to my job and the way it works, that weeks holiday is actually 3 weeks, so have the whole 10 days before 10/02 completely free. So I was thinking last night to have everything I want to do in regards to this in place by then. Send it off, and hopefully the ball has started moving by the time I get back.

The deadline for SAR will be well over by then, so we could look at starting on that and hitting them with that first? I'm happy following your lead with this though.

 

I personally think N-power do not care anymore about this issue.

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Yes, you will find a chrome book or a tablet computer can handle this site quite well.

 

You are right that it is disgusting the way they treat their customers and of course Npower are the most complained of utility company in the country and have been penalised for it at least a couple of times – quite substantial amounts.

 

Let us know when the deadline for the SAR is and then if you still feel that this is what you want to do then you should send them a letter of claim and give them 14 days after which you will sue. If they do let you have your disclosure before the 14 days are up and of course they will still have breached their statutory duty and you are still entitled to sue them for the delay but this is something you will have to decide. We can discuss it here.

 

I'm quite sure that the very least you're going to have to sue them for the money – and so it would probably be helpful to you if you start reading around on this website about bringing a County Court claim. It's not difficult but you need to be aware of the steps.

 

Also of course you may hear back from the energy ombudsman and they may say that they are prepared to revisit the claim. If they do this then I suppose it would be better for you to wait and see what they say – although I don't for one moment imagine that they will try to enforce the back billing code in the way that I have suggested.

 

Still if they do return some sort of verdict for you it should at least point out the Npower deficiencies and of course this would be excellent evidence for you to use in a County Court claim.

 

Npower seem to be uniquely stupid and in the one County Court claim which I have assisted in bringing against them, it was clear that they were going to lose but they still defended all the way – and they did eventually lose in court. They were then obliged to pay £200 compensation and they had to be forced to come up with that.

 

However, the case was being run by some in-house paralegal who scarcely seem to know what he was doing and his entire strategy seem to be based on brute force. I have no idea whether he is still working there. It may be that they are now sending their work out. I think that they use a firm of solicitors called Chapman's.


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I suggest that when the time comes you send something which is broadly like the proposed draft below.

 

dear Sir/Mdm

 

Reference number/account number XXX

 

Letter of claim

 

As you know I sent you a Subject Access Request pursuant to the Data Protection Act on the XXX date. This gave you 30 days to supply me with the personal data which you hold on me.

 

You responded on XXX date with a form which apparently required additional information.

 

 

As I am sure you realise, you are not entitled to do this if I have already supplied you with satisfactory information as to my identity. The name and address which were included on the subject access request are precisely those which you are more than happy to use to supply me with bills, threats and other demands – all of which contain some measure of personal data. Furthermore, I understand that rather than exercising any judgement in the matter of requesting additional evidence of identity, that you are unlawfully sending forms routinely to all of your customers who are making statutory requests for data disclosure.

 

It is clear from that that any additional information you are purporting to require is completely unnecessary, is calculated to obstruct my access to my personal data and is unlawful. I have already warned you about this in my recent letter of the XXX date.

 

I have already made a complaint to the Information Commissioner about this but I am now writing to you to inform you that I'm intending to bring a County Court action against you for breach of statutory duty.

 

By delaying your disclosure beyond the statutory 30 day time limit, you have already committed a breach of the Data Protection Act. I'm proposing to sue you in any event but you might like to consider reducing the seriousness of your statutory breach by supplying me with the data I require without any further delay.

 

I shall be issuing proceedings against you in 14 days. A copy of the judgment will be sent to the ICO and also to the energy regulator.

 

Yours faithfully


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Deadline for the SAR is 27th Jan.

 

The moment that it is up, if they have not sent through the required information, then even if they provide it within the initial 14 days since Letter of Claim goes in, I would still look at taking it forward, not really got much to lose, and that is pretty much open and shut.

 

Thanks for the above letter, I shall use that.

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Fine. We'll help you all the way.

 

I have introduced a new final sentence to the above letter


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Excellent, thank you for that.

 

I have filled in the letter with information as they'll miss that deadline. So I can ping it off as soon as date has passed.

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Okay. I think you could usefully spend some time now understanding the steps in a County Court claim, registering with MoneyClaim online and getting used to the interface.

 

Also, I think it would be helpful if you started browsing this forum and elsewhere for examples of people who have submitted subject access requests to Npower and who have been obliged to fill in a form.

 

There are a few of them here.

 

If you can list the links in a post on this thread, we will try to contact them and see if we can get any written evidence. I think the fact that Npower appear to be doing this routinely is significant.


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