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npower apologises to customers for billing errors

CEO Paul Massara: We have let many of our domestic customers down

paul massara, CEO of REW npower

Paul Massara, CEO of npower, admits that trust is broken between customers and energy suppliers

Energy firm npower has announced that it is writing to apologise to customers who were affected in any way by billing errors in the past few months.

The move comes after the provider, one of the big six, was found to have received far more complaints than any of its competitors in the past few months. The company’s chief executive Paul Massara admitted this week that energy firms have now seen trust deteriorate among consumers to levels afforded to bankers.

He told ITV’s Daybreak show:  “In terms of trust I think people want to trust their big supplier because they want to trust people, unfortunately trust has broken down in key areas of society, it’s not just us, it’s bankers, it’s MPs, it’s all sorts of areas.”

npower complaints

In November, figures released by consumer watchdog Ofgem revealed that npower has been receiving five times as many complaints as the best performing energy companies, with customers having problems with issues such as billing, payments and the setting up of direct debits.

The average number of complaints received by the company over the past few months has been 202 per 100,000 consumers, which is far higher than those received by the other members of the big six.

By way of comparison, EDF was the next-worst performer with 75 complaints per 100,000 consumers, followed by E.ON with 60, British Gas with 55, ScottishPower with 41 and SSE with 38.

As a result of these findings, npower has said it will write to the 3.4 million households it serves, with apologies being accompanied by promises that issues faced by customers with regards to payments, billing and direct debits due to be addressed.

“In recent months, we have let many of our domestic customers down and I wanted to write to each of them personally to say sorry,” said Massara.

“We have been in discussions with Ofgem and are working on this as our top priority. Although we’ve made good progress fixing many of the underlying issues, we still have a long way to go, and our customers deserve to get the best possible service.”

Falling service

According to Ofgem, the past year will have seen a deterioration in service for many of the company’s customers. This is in spite of the fact it has recently increased bills for this winter by some 10.4%.

Sarah Harrison of Ofgem said it was a positive to see the firm address the problems that have seen it receive so many complaints.

“We are pleased to see npower’s leadership team focusing on this issue, acknowledging the scale of the problem and sharing with customers its action plan to put things right,” she said.

npower said that customers will not be losing out financially as a result of the billing issues that have been brought to light. It also added that moving forward it will be looking to bring in an increase of £1 million to its Health Through Warmth Scheme Crisis Fund.

This scheme serves to bring about changes to the homes of those who have suffered cold-related illnesses to help them keep their properties warm.

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  • joe

    If they really wanted to put things right they would not be sacking 1400 UK staff and outsourcing consumer service to India. NPower have not “written” to anyone – since when was a generic mass email ever taken to be a personal letter?

    Many cannot even make a telephone complaint now as you are put on hold for half an hour then the line goes dead. Emails are only answered several months after receipt. They promise remedial action but nothing happens.

    We have not been billed since June 2012 and have amassed a direct debit surplus of some £3600. We cannot leave for a lower tariff or a fixed tariff because the bill is not sorted – is that “illegal”? We have no clue as to what we may owe or have overpaid.
    I understand that 700,000 customers are in a similar position. They cannot charge for billing for energy used over 12 months ago and will have to write off £15M a month for that leading to any remaining customers picking up the tab. We also expect compensation for not being able to leave for a lower or a fixed price tariff. Why is the CEO still receiving any bonus?

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