News : Energy Company Complaints Double
July 10, 2014 -- Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland said complaints about Npower rose from 306.8 for every 100,000 customers in the last quarter of last year to 592.4 between January and March - or one complaint for every 168.8 customers.
The charity's latest complaints league table sees Npower "firmly at rock bottom" in sixth place and Scottish Power in fifth place after both introduced new billing systems.
Complaints about Scottish Power increased from 100.5 per 100,000 customers to 197.7 in the first quarter.
Complaints about all suppliers increased, although the rise was only slight for some. SSE attracted 34.1 complaints per 100,000 customers in the first quarter, followed by British Gas (75.4), E.On (83.6) and EDF (84.5).
Citizens Advice said the rise in complaints to Npower reflected that the supplier had overcome some of the earlier problems with its new billing system, which meant more consumers were now receiving bills.
However, very late bills meant customers had been forced to find hundreds or thousands of pounds to cover the cost, leading to complaints
Last month Ofgem warned Npower to resolve its billing problems by the end of August or halt all telephone sales to new customers.
The regulator said Npower must meet monthly targets to cut the number of accounts affected by late billing or stop all proactive telesales activity.
Ofgem has also opened an investigation into Npower's "prolonged customer service failings", the first under its new Standards of Conduct which state that suppliers must treat consumers fairly.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: "The knock-on effect of poor billing systems can turn household budgets upside down. Many people do not have the spare cash to cover the cost of a large bill that suddenly lands on their doorstep.
"While we recognise Npower is receiving more complaints because it is starting to get over some of the earlier issues, it needs to do more to stop consumers' problems escalating. Offering repayment plans and discussing ways they can help consumers from the off will nip issues in the bud and remove the need to complain.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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npower is one of Britain’s largest energy suppliers and supplies gas, electricity and related services to 6.6 million customers across the UK.
About Citizens Advice:
The Citizens Advice service helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice, and by influencing policymakers.
Published: Friday, July 11, 2014