Following an unexpected victory with Npower this week, I have shunned my normal protocol of silence in disputes and domestic affairs to bring you a very sorry tale with a happy ending (for once!).
Back in January 2013, The Independent published an article on how Npower’s customer service had been voted the worst in the country yet again for energy company public relations. According to several other publications, this was the seventh year in a row the energy giant had fallen short of customer satisfaction to gargantuan proportions and with catastrophic results. Review after review from hugely dissatisfied and distraught customers continued to roll in as customer service departments at Npower constantly mistreated them.
The month following this report, I was to move into my current home and take on Npower’s whims myself, first hand. As if this wasn’t bad enough, for the first eight months in my new home I was suffering a difficult pregnancy with twins and for four months after that, recovering from the caesarean which had not turned out too well. Despite duly explaining all this to Npower, they continued to harass and harangue me via any medium they could find throughout the whole episode. This was initially to chase me for bills which weren’t even mine, then once it had been clarified I needed a new reference number, they hassled me for extortionate estimated billing. From April 1st– May 30th 2013, Npower had apparently calculated a heating bill of £563.63 for me. No amount of discontent or intelligent argument on my part would stop the great Npower stride and by the time I was to go into hospital for the birth of my twins in September 2013, the bill had mysteriously jumped to almost £1500. Still no-one had taken into account my actual readings or had read the meter themselves.
Shortly after I came out of hospital with the babies, it became apparent the caesarean had gone awry somewhere and nerve endings were fusing together in the wrong place. This resulted in my having to stay in bed for 3 weeks unable to walk properly.
The customer service team still kept ringing. They sent threatening letters. I explained via email, phone and letter that their calculations were all wrong and I was more than happy to pay from a correct reading. Despite this, they sent a bailiff and an Npower representative around to my house. I was hauled out of bed and down the stairs to see them. Needless to say, I hit the roof. I managed to collect all my paperwork together and showed the rep face to face what a disgraceful display Npower had illustrated with their miscalculations and harassment. The rep and the bailiff left my house embarrassed, sheepish and empty handed.
However, the N-power nightmare still wasn’t over. After a lull of 6 weeks whereby calculations were meant to be taking place on my correct readings, a letter fell through my door one morning. My surprise and horror was incalculable when I saw my bill had now risen to over £2000 plus admin charges. Livid and ashen, I rung Npower customer services again to try and decipher what on earth was going on. The female I spoke to this time was reasonably helpful and for once had engaged her brain to answer my questions adequately. At the end of a two hour conversation, it was decided, I should be billed for £500 less than currently stated as they had proof of all payments throughout the previous summer but couldn’t recall the rest).
A new bill was sent and seemed reasonably straightforward with deducted amounts and new readings included. Fairly happy that the matter was on its way to being settled, I paid the requested amount and resigned myself to a new bill the following month.
But unfortunately, by July 2014, the bill had once again mysteriously crept back up over £3000. Several more weeks of frustrated phone calls, letters and emails ensued. I spoke to citizen’s advice, solicitors, financial advisors and other legal advisors on the matter. They all concurred that no-one in their right mind could use up £3k of energy in a 3 bedroom house over six months or even a year, but it always came down to the so-called ‘estimates’.
After 5 arduous hours of getting nowhere at all with a host of Npower advisors, I was finally ground down one day last autumn. It seemed I had reached every brick wall known to man. Defeated and exhausted from speaking to so many automatons who had one party line and nothing else, I agreed to pay the £3k over a year in monthly instalments on top of my current bill. It would at last give me some peace from the Npower nonsense for a while. I felt sick to the stomach as I gave my bank details over to the joker on the other side of the phone, wincing from the idea of losing all this money just to buy myself some peace from very ill advised people lecturing me.
Several months went past, but this April, sick of being robbed hand over fist, I bought myself enough time to actually research methods of getting through to these people at Npower properly. My partner and I sat down one evening and trawled through the reviews and complaints. Finally, we stumbled across a recent report which triumphantly stated the Npower Twitter team were achieving success results for customers which the traditional customer service drongoes could only dream of.
Immediately I tweeted my problem and received a response with lightning speed from the Nower twitter team. They all actually wanted to help; I could not believe it! I was allocated a personal advisor called Neil and over the space of less than a week, he had engaged his eyes, ears and brain to work out exactly where it had all gone so horribly wrong for me. Not only that, he even remained courteous; even humorous at times when I found myself heading off into a mini rant. This week, my problem was cleared and at last a reasonable tariff has been set up for the size of our house and the amount of energy we use.
Having spent many a day over the months wondering what the hell, the N in Npower stands for, I now know it’s Neil! All hail Neil Power; he should be made MD… the company would go far.
© Tess Egerton 2015