Npower is 'abominable, oppressive, unacceptable'Judge finds energy company harassed customer

14 October 2010

Npower logo

Npower only scored 30% for customer satisfaction in our survey

Which? has obtained court transcripts that describe Npower's 'abominable behaviour' towards one of its customers.

Christopher Poncelet was awarded £3,000 in damages for harassment, after taking the energy giant to court. We reported on the case earlier this month in our news story Customer to get £3,000 from Npower 

Our new information reveals even more - that even Npower's own lawyer described its behaviour as 'abominable'.

Npower's backwards meter readings

As Mr Poncelet works at night for a US company, he signed up to an Npower tariff that offered cheaper energy prices during the night.

However, Npower assumed the readings had to be wrong and switched the day and night units - therefore charging him too much.

Mr Poncelet battled with Npower for more than three years, receiving 15 incorrect bills and 14 visits from five different debt collection agencies. 

Npower threatened to cut off  his electricity, though it never actually did this. And he couldn't change supplier, as the energy company claimed he owed it money.

When Mr Poncelet phoned to complain he was cut off in suspicious circumstances, as if Npower were saying "We can't deal with customers who complain. They're a nuisance, and we're simply going to cut them off".

Judge Bray

Npower's conduct ‘abominable’

In court, Npower’s own lawyer expressed his ‘personal sympathies' for what Mr Poncelet had endured, and described the company’s conduct as ‘abominable’.

But he said that Npower believed it was owed money by Mr Poncelet and so was entitled to receive payment from him. The lawyer argued that Npower's conduct wasn't ‘oppressive or unreasonable’ or ‘severe’ and therefore it didn't count as harassment.

The judge disagreed, saying that Npower should have known it was being unreasonable. 

He said: 'Had Npower bothered to make even the most cursory checks, it would have found out that his claims were correct.'

Npower responds 

An Npower spokesperson told Which?: 'We are sorry to hear that Mr Poncelet received a poor level of service from us. 

'This resulted in a miscalculation of his 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.' 

Not only was it abominable, but it constituted harassment, as being oppressive and unacceptable conduct by a large company...

Judge Bray

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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