Monday 7 October 2013

WTF Npower?!

Sorry, this is going to be a bit of a rant...

In November I switched my energy supply from Scottish Power to Npower using Uswitch.  For whatever reason (whether that be Scottish Power or Npower's fault I don't know), it took until mid-January for the switch to actually happen.

I switched onto the Go Save tariff - this was a pretty straight forward tariff where you pay per KWh with no standing charge.  Anyway, I received no further information from Npower beyond a letter telling me they had run out of "welcome packs" and would send me one in due course, which of course they didn't.

Seven months on I receive my first bill... telling me I had underpaid by about £400.  There appeared to be two reasons for this: Firstly they had estimated that during the summer I would probably use about three times as much energy as I did in the winter (WTF?  But that bit was easy to sort out).  Secondly, they had apparently signed me up for the far more expensive "Go Save S" tariff, which charges about 55p/day as a standing charge.

So I phone them up and complain and initially they tell me there's nothing they can do about it because they abolished all the no-standing-charge tariffs a few months ago and that I should have received a letter to tell me that I would be switched to Go Save S... they then confirm that they never sent me that letter because they had already erroneously signed me up for Go Save S in the first place.  I pointed out that they are committing fraud by charging me a tariff that I never agreed to, they insist that as the tariff I agreed to doesn't exist any more then there's nothing they can do about this.  I explained that the internal workings of their systems didn't concern me and didn't absolve them of fraud.. so they logged a complaint and told me I would hear back in 10 days.  They also agreed that I could cancel my direct debit so as not to be charged incorrect amounts.

Its now over a month after I made the complaint, still no word about a resolution.  I do, however, have a letter dated October 2nd 2013 telling me to "Relax, you don't need to do anything.  Your new tariff takes effect from 22nd January 2013" and detailing that I "will" be on the "Go Save" tariff (yay!) and showing that I "will" be paying the 55p/month standing charge (errm.. huh?!).  I also have a nastygram complaining that I had cancelled my direct debit (you might recall that I did this with their agreement).

So another phone call to their complaints line...

"I was told I'd hear back in 10 days, why haven't I?"
"We're still investigating, we'll get back to you when we've finished."

"Why do I have this nutty letter dated October which tells me that I will be changing tariff in last January?"
"That's just showing that we've backdated the tariff for you"
"Yes, but its the wrong tariff..."

Also, they are still insisting that "it isn't fraud because the tariff you signed up for no longer exists"...  Sorry, but agreeing to certain charges and then deciding to increase them and charging me *without telling me* is fraud.

Oh yes, and apparently I can't switch suppliers because the contract I signed up to (which they are changing the terms of without my agreement) has a 12 month term...

They have at least agreed to put my account on hold so that the non-payment (which they agreed to!) doesn't get passed to the debt collectors.  We'll see if they manage that bit without screwing it up, since they can't seem to manage much else competently...

I can see this ending up in the small claims court. :(

As a bit of an aside, I do wonder how much legal weight these contracts have, given that I've never actually signed *anything* saying that I agree to npower's T&Cs - I bunged my details into Uswitch, told them to switch my supply, Uswitch sent me an email detailing the tariff.  Npower have never sent me anything showing what tariff I'm on or asking me to sign a contract, so I wonder how they can legally enforce any of it?  Would it stand up in court if I said "show me a contract with my signature on it proving I agreed to this?", since I know they have no such contract...