Thursday, 1 November 2012

Nightmare on NPower Street...

It's Halloween. 

Evil forces are all around us and we're rewarding children with cholesterol inducing treats that will probably shorten their life!
For those of a nervous disposition the following dark and disturbing tale is probably not for you. Alternatively, those of you planning to change your energy supplier.

Read on..

I've been an NPower customer for a number of years. I've detailed my frustration with them a number of times using this site. However, at the end of July 2012 I decided to transfer my bills to Scottish Power. Link to reasons for move.
I think most of us realise that energy companies don't like their customers to leave them and impose tariffs after the contract end date which discourages you to move your account. 
I was surprised after signing up with Scottish Power using their  "Online Fixed Price Energy November 2013" tariff to be told it takes 6 weeks for the transfer to take place. 

  • Is someone going to dig up my drive and install me a new gas pipe or electric cable. NO.
  • Are NPower going to reduce the output on one of their generators. (do they have any) NO
  • Are Scottish Power going to increase their output to cater for me. NO.

So why does it take that long for one company to cancel a direct debit and another one to set one up? 

In fairness to all concerned, apparently 3 of those weeks are to allow the customer to change their mind. Nevertheless, it's hard to believe that a process to move your account can take 3 weeks (15 working days.)

I received my final bill from NPower and discovered that prior to the 31/07/2012 I'd been charged at the "Go Fix 6" tariff and for the following 34 days whilst I was being transferred to my new supplier I'd been charged at an anonymous, but more expensive rate.
Those 34 days had cost me a premium of approximately £10. 
Well that's not much I hear you say. You're probably right, but I wasn't aware of it before I decided to switch and I'm fairly certain the vast majority of consumers aren't aware of how long it take to switch suppliers, or the additional costs involved.

The Nightmare begins...

I'd tried, but failed to find any details of the anonymous "Leaving Tariff" on the NPower website. (I assumed it was the "Standard tariff, but I couldn't find any relevant information.)  In desperation on the 1st October 2012 I rang NPower asking two questions.

  1. Could they tell me where the current tariff rates are displayed on the NPower website.
  2. Could they explain what tariff had been used during the 34 day leaving period.

1st October: The customer care operative very capably ran me through how my bill was calculated, but was unable to answer either of my specific questions. He offered to transfer me to his manager who could deal with my query. 
Unfortunately, his manager Gemma Heggarty, (make a note of her name, it comes up frequently) wasn't available, but she would write to me within the next 7-10 days answering my questions.

15th October: After two weeks I'd received no letter from Gemma, (I'd offered my email address, but apparently they can't supply information that way.)
I rang and asked to speak to Gemma. The operative asked if she could deal with the query herself and I posed the two questions again. 
Unfortunately, she didn't know, but she would transfer me to Gemma Heggarty her boss. "She's not available, can I ring you back later?"

16th October: I waited until mid morning the following day and rang again asking to speak to Gemma. After once again explaining my query and once again the operative being unable to provide any answers, I wasn't surprised to discover that Gemma wasn't available, but the friendly and helpful operative would get the relevant information and ring me back by 17:00.

22nd October: Rang and (more in hope than in anger) asked to speak to Gemma. "She's not available, can I ring you back later?"
I decided that as Gemma was obviously a fictitious employee who had a locked and empty office on the 6th floor I would ask to speak to a supervisor.

BINGO!!! After a few minute I'm explaining my problem to a "Mentor Team Manager". She apologised for the delay, offered me a £10 voucher to cover my time and inconvenience and promised to email me the information that very day.
Later that day I received an email detailing the rates used in calculating the "Go Fix 6" portion of my bill.

The figures supplied were not even close to the tariff rates used throughout the contract. I have no idea where she got them from or to what they related to.

She also supplied details of the "standard tariff" rates used. These were once again totally different from those used on my bill. So I wasn't being charged for the 34 days at the "Standard" rate.

She'd checked on the website for tariff information and told me the only way to access this was to complete a quotation request. (I'd already done this, it doesn't provide any of the information I'd requested.)

29th October: After a number of emails detailing once again the specific questions I was looking for I received an email from the "Team Manager". No. not the elusive Gemma Heggarty but nevertheless a "Team Manager", it had taken 4 weeks from my initial enquiry, but here it was, straight from the horses mouth.

The tariff used for those of you leaving NPower is "GO Save S". It's a fairly inappropriate name as the tariff is higher than others...

He told me.

"As per our website the Go Save S product is not viewable as far as further information is concerned because it is a product that has only ever been used when other products end and it has never been sold as an actual tariff."

Basically NPower charge a tariff which they don't publish details of....
They also make it extremely difficult for members of the public to view tariff rates on their website. Don't believe me? You have a go and see if you think it's easy.

What is even worse is that they don't provide the information, or sufficient training for their customer service operatives to help their customers. In fairness to NPower they may be no worse in this than their competitors, but is that any excuse?

Still waiting for my £10 by the way. Perhaps they plan to knock it off next quarters bill. Either that or they've given it to Gemma Heggarty...

Twitter: (@solaricarus)

1 comment:

  1. Solaricarus,

    Not much help to you, but npower have recently launched a community forum called "Npower - Your voice" in an effort to guage customer feedback and trial some new ideas.

    It seems to be by initation only but still a lot of customers - me included - are having imense fun venting our spleens at them, mostly it seems over unreturned excess credit - over £250 for me and over £300 for my old man.

    As for npower's unadvertised transfer tariff "Go Save S" , might I suggest it's an abbreviation of "(you) Go Save Sh*t" - because that's precisely what happens whilst you're on it.