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We currently use Npower as our gas supplier because when my girlfriend moved into this place she stuck with them from her old place and they have always been pretty cheap.
However although they charge quite reasonably for their prices they have no understanding of customer service. Over the past two years we have put up with this hassle because of their prices but is it time to change?
The problems began when we continuously received estimated bills from them, despite the fact that on some occasions they had actually read the meter. Now we have what I class as a strange gas meter, as in its not one I have ever seen before. It is one by Siemens but it seems to have far too many numbers of the digital display before and after the decimal line. Because of these we were having problems in giving them a reading our self as even when we phoned them they were unable to help.
So eventually we gave up and accepted the estimated readings, knowing that because they had not read it for some time, they would be due soon. This is because they have to read them once a year as part of their gas supply agreement. This is not only for the purposes of meter reading but also for the purposes of checking their equipment is still in tact and is 100% safe. Eventually the time came when a man knocked on the door about 8.30am in the morning just as we were about to walk out the door. This time was obviously not convenient as despite the rudeness I received from the member of staff he eventually agreed to come back.
The problem there is that he never did. Four weeks later my girlfriend received a phone call on her mobile whilst we were at work. It was from this member of staff from Npower, he told us he was outside our home now and wanted to read the meter. When she explained we were at work he was very rude and again said ‘well I am outside and wish to check your meter.’ After some further explaining by my partner that we were at work he put the phone down on her.
Two days later another phone call from him. Once again we were at work, this time he demanded that we were there, at home, by 6pm. We explained that as I was working until half 9 and my girlfriend was working until 6pm, and then had to pick Ben up on the way home this would again not be possible. Once more she received a barrage of rudeness from the Npower rep who again hung up.
This time we rang Npower and made an official complaint about this man and were told that they would be in touch. Only the problem is we never received that call. Well that is, until 3 weeks later when we were away on holiday and a female member of staff from their call centre called. This time she wanted to arrange for someone to read the meter tomorrow. Well we were not due back from our holiday for another 4 days so again not possible. When we explained that at this point we could not arrange a date but if they would like to call us next week when we wee home we would arrange an agreed time for them to visit. At this point we were put hold and the member of staff never came back.
At this point enough was enough, so we decided that on our return home we would contact Npower. This we did, only this time we asked for a manager but could not get one as they were all in a meeting. So we ended up talking to the Supervisor on duty, which as it happens was very helpful and the most helpful we have spoke to so far. She agreed to take the matter with regards to the engineer further and to call us back tomorrow. Once again this did not happen. To cut a long story short, we sent various emails to Npower and made various calls to them before someone would actually agree a set date that this person would arrive.
The date was finally set, all we had to do now was wait. Would you believe it they did not turn up to the appointment, despite the fact we waited in all day. After a further call to them and some meaningless apologies from them we finally set another date for the following week. This time they showed up and checked and read the meter, eventually, as the man that turned up did not know what he was looking for and had to ring his manager to talk him through it. Now that feels you with confidence doesn’t it!
At last, we thought, everything was sorted. How wrong were we? Well after a few more weeks we received a bill from them for the last quarter’s worth of gas. Believe this or not, it was estimated. Now how could this have happened? An estimated bill, even though they had read the meter??? Well it made no sense to us. So we gave them a call and they could not explain it either! What a great company these were turning out to be. So eventually after having to talk to various different people they agreed that it was their mistake! I could have told them that!
The only answer they had was for us to give them a meter reading now and again in about 2 and half months, just before the next bill was due. This apparently was the only way we were going to get an accurate bill. So that bill is due in about 6 weeks time, so we wait and see what happens but I certainly don’t hold out any hope of it being correct. Would you?
Should you need to supply them with your own meter reading, then there is various ways that you can do this. First is by phoning them, the second way is by clicking the link on their website. To send a reading, just click whether you are sending a gas reading or an electricity reading. Then all you have to do is to enter your account number, the meter reading and a couple of contact details in case they need to contact you. If you do this when you have received an estimated bill from them then they will apparently end you a new bill within 5 days. But if I was you I would not hold out hope of receiving it!
Npower them self are part of the RWE Group of companies, this the same company that runs Thames Water, as well as various other Gas, Electricity and Water suppliers but is primarily based in Germany.
As one of the largest power suppliers they not only supply residential customers but businesses as well, so if you ask me need to improve their customer service fast!
The actual company Npower was launched in April 2000 and was originally part of Innogy, formerly part of National Power which was demerged. Eventually they were taken over by the RWE Group in May 2002 when they purchased the parent company Innogy.
To get you to sign up with them they will actually give you upto £50 discount per year if you agree to switch your gas and electricity supplies to them. But this is obviously subject to a few terms and conditions which can be found on their website.
If you are looking to purchase new appliances for you home then you can do this also with Npower. However it is available from a separate website, www.newwaveonline.co.uk. But be aware that this company is also part of Npower, however as I have never used them for purchasing appliances I cannot comment on the service of this part of the company.
For more information on Npower or their products visit:
www.npower.com www.rwe.com (the site will appear in German, but there is an English link) www.rwenpower.com
You can write to them at
PO Box 93 Tyne House Birchwood Drive Peterlee SR8 2XX
Alternatively call them on one of these numbers:
For Gas call 08457 906050 For Electricity call 08457 145146 Energy Efficiency Advice call 0800 022220
Should you continue to have problems with your gas or electricity supplier after you have contacted them directly? Do not give up, there is another answer. All supplies of energy, telecoms etc are all covered by a watchdog. The group that covers all electricity and gas suppliers is called Ofgem. All of these watchdogs are not part of any of the companies and are totally independent. They, as a regulator to this part of the industry will help give you choice of suppliers.
You can visit them at www.ofgas.gov.uk
However if you have a complaint then you can contact a regulator called Energy watch. These should be your first point of call if your current supplier cannot resolve your issue. They will take up your complaint on your behalf and help you resolve this with your supplier.
If you wish to make a complain then you can visit their website at www.energywatch.org.uk
Email them at email@example.com
Or call them on 0845 906 0708
But there is light at the end of the tunnel, a new website call USwitch, this allows to find the best gas, electricity, home phone, credit card, digital TV and broadband suppliers in your area. All you do is select which option you want, enter your postcode then answer a few questions about the supplier you want and it will find the best one for you.
To see their website log onto www.uswitch.com
Well, you read all of that, and probably are thinking to yourself by now, "ah yes this sounds familiar" but no it gets better. "How?" I hear you ask, well we got yet another bill and yes once again it was esimated, so Steph got on the phone to them and questioned what was going on, the young lady really didnt have a clue and kept putting her on hold as she was talking to someone else about what was happening and to be honest, i think they were more confused then we were. If you ask me, i dont think they are capable of organizing a p**s up in a brewery, but who am i to judge!!
They never did give us a reasonable explanation as to why we received this eastimated bill, and to be perfectly honest it was for less than a fiver, so it probably cost them more to print it, all i remember is that when Steph came off the phone, she had a rather blank look on her face, infact i think it was disbelief. I asked what they said and she told me that they had made a mistake but they didnt really explain why, but she rembered that some where in the conversation the person had told her she thought we were being over charged!!! Where on earth did that one come from??
Well in all the confusion and through various other things going on, we forgot to pay the bill. Now normally when this happens, we receive a red reminder, but we didnt on this occasion (hence why we forgot to pay it!!). Well the other day, this envelope came through the door, and it was a new bill from Npower, and I thought to myself, oh no i forgot to pay the last one, so I expected the previous bill to show on this one. No it didnt, infact it showed we are in credit of around £25. Now im really confused,. On examining the bill and looking at the charges, everything looks how it should be, so i cant even begin to imagine what they have done there end, god only knows!!
What you seem to have missed along the line is that the people who read the meter are not npower staff. Ok, so things haven't gone right for you, but you need to get your facts right.
Meter reading for gas, electricity and water is usually contracted out to a reader company. siemens themselves do this for some companies, and I know first hand how mistakes can be made. Sometimes the customers data is incorrect on the system, so readers can't find the properties, the meter, or may have the wrong meter number, etc. I know this should be correct, but you have to realise that you data could be keyed by you into a switching companys website, transferred from your old supplier to your new one, who uses a 3rd party to collect meter reads, and so on. All this leaves numerous levels open to mistakes.
I have been with npower for over 3 years and have to say the service I have had has been excellent. They have sorted problems left to us by the previous owner of the property and British Gas. They send bills out on time, which are accurate. If we have had to alter an estimated bill by internet or by keying in the correct read over the phone, the new bill has always arrived within a few days.
All our reads of the electric or gas meters have never been by npower staff. We have had accuread and powergen staff to this, but no problems at all.
We get good service from the company and staff, accurate bills, and electricity from a renewable source for the same price as their "standard" electricity.
We get £60 credited annually to our electricity bill for staying with them for the previous 12 months and paying by direct debit. When you say theres catches to the "cash back", you don't say what they are, and I've not discovered any issues yet.
For us, they offer decent prices for renewable energy.
suddenend 25.11.2005 17:51
Typical nPower incompetence. You really should get in touch with OfGas and see if they can get you some straight answers. Very interesting review.
Invisible_Friend 17.01.2005 22:39
What a shame you had such an awful time, great review though