As promised, here’s how to make a Npower complaint. Here is the response I received concerning my Npower complaint. It’s long, so settle back and take 10 minutes to read it.
Dear Mrs James,
Thank you for taking the time to write to Paul Massara, our Chief Executive Officer, to highlight your concerns over the management of your npower account. My name is Adam; I’m a manager within our Executive Complaints team and I’ve been asked to review your account and reply on Paul’s behalf.
Having read some of the entries on your website, I understand Fridays tend to be busy and pre-planned for you, so I thought it might be best to send an email that you can review at your leisure rather than interrupting your day with a telephone call.
I’m very sorry to learn about the difficulties you’ve had, firstly in obtaining bills from us, and then in being given an explanation of the bills once they’d been issued.
As you rightly say, we took too long to inform you that your payments were not covering your monthly usage, an issue which was then compounded by the level of service received when you queried the statements we sent you.
It’s clear that the level of care you received falls short of the standard you should rightfully expect – I’d like to take this opportunity to address the points you’ve raised and hopefully bring about an agreeable resolution.
Having carried out an investigation into your account details, I can see that though we became your supplier on 24 December 2012, a technical issue affecting your account meant that we didn’t produce your first bill until 20 January 2014, a gap of almost 13 months.
We subscribe to the Energy UK Code of Practice for Accurate Bills, so if we take more than 12 months to produce a bill for you, we should write off any charges incurred more than 12 months ago. In this instance, charges for energy usage from 24 December 2012 to 20 January 2013 should have been written off in line with the Code, but I can’t find any evidence of this having happened.
As the Code of Practice was not correctly applied for the period 24 December 2012 to 20 January 2013, I’ve credited your account to cover this. We’ve previously estimated that you used £95.38 of energy between 24 December 2012 and 14 January 2013, equivalent to approximately £4.34 per day. I’ve therefore calculated that a credit of £121.52 is needed to cover the full period affected.
Under normal circumstances, your first npower statement would have been produced on or around 15 July 2013.
The meter readings we hold for this date are estimated but are a fair reflection of your typical usage, when compared to actual meter readings received from your new supplier. Had the scheduled statement been produced on that date, it would have advised you that you’d used £671.64 of energy while making monthly Direct Debit payments totalling £320.52, leaving a debit of £351.12 outstanding.
This would have been our first chance to carry out a full account review for you and I fully accept that in this scenario, the opportunity to review your payments would have given you greater control over your account, allowing you to manage the outstanding balance effectively from that point on.
To rectify this, I’ve reviewed your usage for the period from 16 July 2013, when your payments should have been reassessed, to 13 January 2014, when your next scheduled statement should have been produced. During this period, you used £405.68 worth of energy while making £320.52 worth of payments, a difference of £85.16. This difference wouldn’t have existed had we reassessed your payments in July 2013 as scheduled, so I’ve applied a credit of £85.16 to your account in order to correct this for you.
I can see that we’ve now issued a total of 10 invoices against your account, often sending multiple invoices on the same day. Further complicating matters, some of the invoices we’ve sent have later been cancelled and replaced by new bills, making it still harder to keep track of the amounts being charged. I’ve attached a copy of your final
I’ve attached a copy of your final npower bill which we issued on 16 July, confirming a final balance of £150.18 debit, but this balance won’t need to be paid.
Our expectation is that whenever you contact us to discuss a bill, you end the call with a clear understanding of your account and with confidence that the figures provided are correct. Your email and the notes on our records illustrate that we haven’t met this expectation – with that in mind, I’ve taken the decision to clear the debit balance from your account.
Finally, to recognise the shortfalls in customer service displayed to you, I’ve applied a further £100.00 of credit. These actions leave your account in credit by £306.68, which I’ve refunded into the bank account you used to make payments to npower.
You can expect this refund to arrive within 5 working days.
We really do care about the experience our customers have when using our services and I so wish we’d demonstrated this to you previously – it’s really disappointing to read about how we’ve made you feel, but I can completely understand your position given the level of service you’ve received.
Hopefully I’ve been able to address all points raised in your correspondence, but if any matters remain outstanding, you’re more than welcome to contact me directly. I’ve provided my contact details below and my normal working hours are from Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.
My reply to this…
“I appreciate your response and the removal of my outstanding balance and credit back to my account. It was a traumatic time when I was told I owed so much money and I ended up paying £188 per month for maybe 4 months to clear the balance. No sympathy or help was given, and at the time we were extending our house so things were tight financially.
Anyways, I also work in a utility type industry and am constantly dealing with complaints that often come from our exec office, online and retail customer. So thank you for your time in writing such a great email.
Alas, I have no confidence that you can repair your billing/customer service processes and will not recommend you to my friends/colleagues and people who visit my website. It’s shame as you have so many customers, but so many with issues who struggle to resolve them. I will forward my letter and your response if okay to Ofgem; I hear about utility companies on BBC news all the time and really don’t feel like you are improving things.
I feel worse for the people who don’t check their bills and just pay them unwittingly. My aim with my personal website is to save people money. My aim with my day job is to improve peoples customer experience.
Can I post your response on my website too, I won’t show your personal contact details.”
The return email….
Thanks for taking the time to get back to me.
During my review of your account, I was struck by the fact that when you contacted us, nobody appeared to have carried out an in-depth review of your payments or suggested an alternative payment plan. Our notes show that one of our team attempted to review alternative tariffs for you – I believe this was the call on which the phone went dead – but didn’t consider that your monthly payments had automatically been set to recover the outstanding balance over a period of 6 months.
Given the delays in billing your account and the impact these delays had upon the amount outstanding, I’d have expected our agents to display an understanding of the circumstances and offer whatever help they could. At the very least, we should have considered the option of spreading the accrued balance over a longer term to minimise the financial burden, in addition to the avenues explored in my original email. Monthly payment plans are a means of providing you with a manageable amount, avoiding large spikes in your payments and ensuring you don’t have to make any large lump sum payments to us – again, I’m really sorry that the experience you’ve had with us didn’t reflect that.
You’re very welcome to forward my response to Ofgem along with the details of your query. You may already be aware that we’re currently working with Ofgem to improve our billing processes and our complaint handling procedures, neither of which can be improved upon unless we acknowledge issues where they exist and communicate those issues properly. With that in mind, I’m more than happy for my emails to be passed on.
Please don’t hesitate to post my response on your website too. I’m more than happy for you to share the response with others and for my name to be associated with it. The only thing I’d like to ask, which I think is in line with your existing plans, is that my telephone number and email address are redacted; if any of your readers and followers should wish to contact npower after reading your post, I won’t be in a position to personally respond to them all, so I’m really keen to avoid setting any false expectations in that regard. Hopefully, that’s OK – I don’t want you to feel as though you’re prevented from posting the response at all, so if you don’t feel you can accommodate my request, just let me know and I’m sure we’ll both be able to come up with an alternative.
Hopefully, that’s OK – I don’t want you to feel as though you’re prevented from posting the response at all, so if you don’t feel you can accommodate my request, just let me know and I’m sure we’ll both be able to come up with an alternative.
I do share your concerns regarding those who unwittingly pay inaccurate bills. I’m sure it goes without saying that you shouldn’t have to email our Chief Executive Officer to obtain an accurate bill – while I can’t change what’s happened, it’s vital that I take measures to ensure we learn from the experience, so I’ve followed every internal step I can take to record and share feedback on the service we’ve provided to you. We’re also carrying out a broader business-wide review of our processes and procedures, with the aim of providing a more efficient, customer-focused experience whenever our customers contact us.
I’m sure it goes without saying that you shouldn’t have to email our Chief Executive Officer to obtain an accurate bill – while I can’t change what’s happened, it’s vital that I take measures to ensure we learn from the experience, so I’ve followed every internal step I can take to record and share feedback on the service we’ve provided to you. We’re also carrying out a broader business-wide review of our processes and procedures, with the aim of providing a more efficient, customer-focused experience whenever our customers contact us.
We’re also carrying out a broader business-wide review of our processes and procedures, with the aim of providing a more efficient, customer-focused experience whenever our customers contact us.
I totally understand your lack of trust in our service and wish there was more I could do today to instill greater confidence, but I realise our actions in the longer term are key to restoring that confidence.
I very much hope that our implementation of the measures I’ve described here (or, more accurately, the result gained after we’ve implemented them) gives you cause to consider recommending us in the future. In the meantime, you’ll always be more than welcome to contact me with any additional queries you might have – I’ll respond to any questions at my first opportunity.