Customer to get £3,000 damages from NpowerCompany's actions 'oppressive and unacceptable'

21 September 2010

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Npower only scored 30% for customer satisfaction in our survey

A consumer has won his battle against Npower after taking the energy company to court.

Christopher Poncelet works at night for a US company and so had signed up to an Npower tariff that was cheaper at night. According to Mr Poncelet’s solicitors, Npower switched the day and night units as it assumed the readings were wrong. 

After three years’ dispute with Npower, including visits from debt collectors, Mr Poncelet took the company to court. Awarding £3,000 in damages, Judge Bray described Npower’s actions as 'the oppressive and unacceptable conduct of a large company over a small individual'.

Npower told Which? there was ‘a miscalculation of bills on a number of occasions which were then followed by letters from Npower informing him he was in debt. We apologised to Mr Poncelet in court for the mistakes made. We have identified the problem and are rectifying the issue with this specific case.’

Complaining about your energy supplier

Which? Legal Service's Stephen McGlade says: 'The law with regard to utility companies provides for clear standards of performance and has well-established procedures for dealing with complaints, both of which have seem to be ignored by Npower in this particular case. 

'Npower should have thoroughly investigated Mr Poncelet's case from the very beginning and ceased any collection activity, as clearly Mr Poncelet had reasonably queried and disputed the debt as soon as he was aware of the error made by Npower.'

Mr. McGlade continues: 'Npower also breached OFT debt collection guidance by continuing to ignore Mr Poncelet's claim that he did not owe the debt. This goes some way to explain this landmark ruling and why the judge ruled that Npower must pay damages amounting to £3,000 after Mr Poncelet received 15 inaccurate bills and had to fend off debt collectors on 14 occasions.'

Npower 'worst' for customer service

In September 2009 we reported that Npower came last in the Which? Switch customer survey for the third year running, scoring a paltry 28% for customer satisfaction. See full results for the best and worst energy suppliers at Which? Switch. 


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