A Derbyshire MP was asked by energy giant Npower to treat a goodwill payment it made to one of his constituents ‘in commercial confidence’, after he contacted the energy supplier on the constituent’s behalf.
Mark Todd, MP for South Derbyshire, contacted Npower and obtained a payment of £85 for a constituent who had not been informed about an increase in his bills by the company. In writing to the MP about the case, Npower said that he should treat this ‘in commercial confidence’ and not disclose it to any third party, the Derby Telegraph reports.
Mr Todd told Which? that he had ‘no intention of treating it in confidence’ as there was not – as Npower claims – a data protection issue. Npower’s position is that the stipulation is standard in such letters.
Speaking in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons this afternoon, Mr Todd said that he had ‘never before been told by any company that I owe a duty to anyone other than my constituents’ in such a matter.
Npower told Which? that this is ‘a standard paragraph in our letters and certainly nothing sinister’, describing it as ‘an added security feature in relation to data protection’.
Npower has paid £1.2million to 200,000 customers who were charged more after the company changed its two-tiered gas tariff in 2007, and the payment to Mr Todd’s constituent was one such ‘goodwill’ gesture.
The explanation of Npower’s tariff changes ran to five pages and it admits that some gas customers ‘may not have been able to discern’ that their prices were going to increase, despite suppliers being required to tell their customers if this is to happen.
Which? believes that utility companies’ bills are too complex and is campaigning for their . With more than 4,000 different tariffs available and an Ofgem review of the regulation of consumer energy markets currently taking place, we feel now is a good time to email your MP about this. You can read more about our energy campaign .
Responding to Mr Todd in the Commons today, Energy and Climate Change Minister David Kidney said that the results of an Ofgem survey into energy customer satisfaction were ‘really disappointing’. Ofgem’s energy customer satisfaction survey found ‘low levels’ of satisfaction with all suppliers. Npower came bottom of the poll, with just 16% of customers satisfied.
Which? has also carried out a survey of over 6,000 Which? members into utility companies. The survey’s average score of 43% makes it the lowest performing of all the industries covered by our satisfaction surveys – find out which companies fared the best and worst in the utilities satisfaction survey report.
Switching energy companies has thankfully never been easier. People switching their gas and electricity to a dual fuel tariff through Which? Switch saved an average of £257 last year.
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