Approximately 1,000 former and existing Npower customers will have debts written off and be given free energy, after the big six energy provider has been found guilty of failing to implement Ombudsman rulings on complaints within the required 28 days.
In some cases, decisions haven't been implemented going back as far as December 2013, although Npower says this only applies to a "few cases". As a result, energy regulator Ofgem says the following will happen:
- For the 1,000 unresolved Ombudsman Services complaints identified. Former and existing customers will have any outstanding debt written off, while existing customers will receive free energy from today up until Npower fully implements the rulings.
- For any Ombudsman Services rulings that take longer than 28 days to implement going forward. Customers will receive free energy as soon as the 28 day resolution period has ended until Npower fully implements the rulings. Npower will also consider clearing debt on these customers' accounts on a case-by-case basis.
Npower says it's agreed with Ofgem to write to all affected customers within two weeks, although it says it is aiming to write to the vast majority, if not all, past and present customers by Friday 24 July 2015.
If you think you're affected but don't get a letter within the next two weeks, you should call Npower on 0800 073 3000.
If you have a gripe about your energy firm, you can take it to the free independent complaints arbitrator, the Ombudsman Services, if you have no luck going directly to the company involved first. See our How To Complain guide for help pushing your claim to the max.
Once the Ombudsman Services reaches a legally binding decision and it's agreed to by the consumer, firms have 28 days to implement it.
Latest in a long line of blunders
Today's news is the latest in a long line of blunders made by Npower, which has previously come under fire for sending former users huge demands for cash months after they'd left the firm (see the Npower agrees to some of MSE's calls to wipe ex-customer's bills MSE News story).
It is also currently under investigation by Ofgem following the soaring number of complaints made about the firm.
In our latest energy customer service poll Npower was ranked in twelfth position out of 15 energy providers with 53% of those who voted saying its service is "poor". Join our free Cheap Energy Club to see if you can switch and save if you're unhappy with your provider.
Ofgem 'expect significant improvements'
Anthony Pygram, senior partner at Ofgem says: "We expect Npower to implement Ombudsman decisions on time. Our intervention has only been necessary because of Npower's failure to do this. This has led to further frustration for affected customers who have already been waiting some time to have their issue resolved.
"We are continuing our investigation into Npower's customer service issues and expect significant improvements from the company to address these."
In a statement Npower says: "Npower continues to make steps to improve its service, including halving overall complaints and reducing Ombudsman complaints by nearly 10% since the beginning of this year, but sometimes a delay in finally resolving a complaint can occur, for which we apologise."