Gran wins big gas bill power struggle

Swindon Advertiser: Daphne Pook was overcharged as she tried to move from npower Daphne Pook was overcharged as she tried to move from npower

A BATTLING 4ft 9in granny has told of a two-month phantom gas bill ordeal at the hands of npower.

Daphne Pook, 74, tried to switch from the multi-million pound energy giant to the Co-op for her gas and electricity, only to be hit with a £225.64 gas bill she didn’t owe.

The electricity company first claimed she owed the money on November 28, telling her it meant she couldn’t switch suppliers. Even after weeks of anguished phone calls from Mrs Pook, it insisted in a letter dated January 24 that she still owed the money.

The firm says that letter, refusing to allow her to change to the Co-op as a supplier, was sent in error, and insists it has treated Mrs Pook well.

Spokesman Adam Mallaby said: “We understand Mrs Pook feels she hasn’t had great service by npower and we acknowledge that a small error was made on Mrs Pook’s account, which was resolved quickly.

“The welfare of our vulnerable customers is extremely important to us and we feel we have gone above and beyond to look after Mrs Pook’s energy needs on a number of levels."

Mrs Pook, a retired cleaning firm owner who suffers from a crumbling spine, sees things differently.

“I’m on my mettle and I’ve learned to be a survivor,” she said, “but there are a lot of vulnerable people out there. I would describe npower’s service as disgusting. They’re complete and utter incompetents. It’s been very upsetting.”

Mrs Pook’s main complaint against the firm began in November. She said: “I worked out that the Co-op was cheapest for gas and electric and I decided to go to the Co-op in mid-November. Then I got a letter dated November 28, saying I had an outstanding balance of £225.64 on my gas account.

“I’ve been on key meters for 18 months, and you only get what you put on the key.”

Mrs Pook then embarked on an odyssey of the npower call centre and complaints department, logging her phone calls as she went.

She says she was repeatedly told the problem was resolved, only to receive a letter in December saying the bill remained outstanding, and another dated January 24 saying the same thing.

The final letter came some time after the company sent her £92 to cover the cost of the inconvenience caused by the mistake – a mistake that letter repeated.

Mr Mallaby said: “The customer’s transfer to Co-op was objected to in reference to the debt of £225.64, but we realised immediately that this was an error. “We’ve not asked Mrs Pook to pay this money and removed the debt, as well as giving her £92 as a gesture of goodwill.

“Mrs Pook can now go ahead with her transfer to Co-op by ringing them.”

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, said he feared the possible implications of the case for other customers.

Mr Buckland said: “It’s important that cases such as this like this do not put off people from wanting to switch to get best value for money. I’m concerned, especially with older customers, that they’ll think, ‘If that’s the hassle I’m going to be put to,I don’t want to switch.’ “I would urge npower to look at their systems to make sure that petty obstacles like this are not put in front of people.”

Age UK charity director general Michelle Mitchell said: “With around 3.5 million pensioner households living in fuel poverty, it’s really important that older people feel confident about switching energy suppliers to save money on their bills. “If you are unhappy with the way you have been treated by your energy company, you should complain to them by email or letter and if you are not satisfied with the response, you should contact the Energy Ombudsman.”

Factsheets about saving energy and switching suppliers are available at www.ageuk.org.uk. The charity’s helpline is 0800 169 65 65.

Comments (13)

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9:20am Wed 6 Feb 13

Phantom Poster says...

How is her height in any way relevant to the story?
How is her height in any way relevant to the story? Phantom Poster

9:29am Wed 6 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

Phantom Poster wrote:
How is her height in any way relevant to the story?
It's to try and create the mental imagery of a 'David Vs Goliath' struggle.

Very Sun-esque journalism, especially as the helpful chaps at npower wouldn't have had any idea how tall the lady was.

Well done to her, though.

npower said...
"We feel we have gone above and beyond to look after Mrs Pook’s energy needs on a number of levels."

Hands up who believes this? Anyone?
[quote][p][bold]Phantom Poster[/bold] wrote: How is her height in any way relevant to the story?[/p][/quote]It's to try and create the mental imagery of a 'David Vs Goliath' struggle. [p] Very Sun-esque journalism, especially as the helpful chaps at npower wouldn't have had any idea how tall the lady was. [p] Well done to her, though. [p] [quote][b]npower said...[/b] "We feel we have gone above and beyond to look after Mrs Pook’s energy needs on a number of levels." [/quote] Hands up who believes this? Anyone? Tim Newroman

10:03am Wed 6 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

This is very common practice, I know of at least 2 families who have experienced similar problems trying to change to the Coop. It seems the big boys don't like their cheap tariffs.

Coop Energy purchase 40% of the Watchfield output.
This is very common practice, I know of at least 2 families who have experienced similar problems trying to change to the Coop. It seems the big boys don't like their cheap tariffs. Coop Energy purchase 40% of the Watchfield output. RichardR1

10:43am Wed 6 Feb 13

Davey Gravey says...

Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities
Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities Davey Gravey

10:46am Wed 6 Feb 13

PaulD says...

according to http://www.moneysavi
ngexpert.com/cheapen
ergyclub npower ranked as the cheapest for me by far
according to http://www.moneysavi ngexpert.com/cheapen ergyclub npower ranked as the cheapest for me by far PaulD

12:47pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities
Thank God they were privatised, just think how much the governments of the day would have ramped up the prices in order to fend off the budget deficit.

Mind you, where petrol is concerned, they have basically made it public, they just get private industry to do all the work for them.
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities[/p][/quote]Thank God they were privatised, just think how much the governments of the day would have ramped up the prices in order to fend off the budget deficit. [p] Mind you, where petrol is concerned, they have basically made it public, they just get private industry to do all the work for them. Tim Newroman

1:29pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Davey Gravey says...

Tim Newroman wrote:
Davey Gravey wrote:
Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities
Thank God they were privatised, just think how much the governments of the day would have ramped up the prices in order to fend off the budget deficit.

Mind you, where petrol is concerned, they have basically made it public, they just get private industry to do all the work for them.
I do not wish to debate with you as you reported me recently when you didn't like my response to you. If you were not such a baby then I would happily correct your pro Tory rubbish.
[quote][p][bold]Tim Newroman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities[/p][/quote]Thank God they were privatised, just think how much the governments of the day would have ramped up the prices in order to fend off the budget deficit. [p] Mind you, where petrol is concerned, they have basically made it public, they just get private industry to do all the work for them.[/p][/quote]I do not wish to debate with you as you reported me recently when you didn't like my response to you. If you were not such a baby then I would happily correct your pro Tory rubbish. Davey Gravey

2:26pm Wed 6 Feb 13

peatmoor pirate says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities
Yeah because public services never do anything wrong do they? Just ask the victims of Stafford Hospital to corroborate your view.
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities[/p][/quote]Yeah because public services never do anything wrong do they? Just ask the victims of Stafford Hospital to corroborate your view. peatmoor pirate

2:36pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Davey Gravey says...

peatmoor pirate wrote:
Davey Gravey wrote:
Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities
Yeah because public services never do anything wrong do they? Just ask the victims of Stafford Hospital to corroborate your view.
Private utility companies ripping people off is one thing. A poor example to try to counter me imo.anyway, Are you saying the nhs is a bad public service? Should the government abandon that too?
[quote][p][bold]peatmoor pirate[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities[/p][/quote]Yeah because public services never do anything wrong do they? Just ask the victims of Stafford Hospital to corroborate your view.[/p][/quote]Private utility companies ripping people off is one thing. A poor example to try to counter me imo.anyway, Are you saying the nhs is a bad public service? Should the government abandon that too? Davey Gravey

5:50pm Wed 6 Feb 13

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities
Unfortunately at the time the utilities along with several other industries were badly run; so something needed doing.

I'd agree the current situation is worse though.

As with most things public sector they need to be run properly, but that doesn't happen. Then the mercinaries take over (either privatisation or through consultants) and its all about making the money for themselves or the shareholders.
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities[/p][/quote]Unfortunately at the time the utilities along with several other industries were badly run; so something needed doing. I'd agree the current situation is worse though. As with most things public sector they need to be run properly, but that doesn't happen. Then the mercinaries take over (either privatisation or through consultants) and its all about making the money for themselves or the shareholders. LordAshOfTheBrake

8:58am Thu 7 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
Tim Newroman wrote:
Davey Gravey wrote:
Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities
Thank God they were privatised, just think how much the governments of the day would have ramped up the prices in order to fend off the budget deficit.

Mind you, where petrol is concerned, they have basically made it public, they just get private industry to do all the work for them.
I do not wish to debate with you as you reported me recently when you didn't like my response to you. If you were not such a baby then I would happily correct your pro Tory rubbish.
Awww, never mind, eh?

Others have already 'corrected' you about your 1960s mindset regarding publically run organisations (which never, ever, work to an acceptable level).
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Tim Newroman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities[/p][/quote]Thank God they were privatised, just think how much the governments of the day would have ramped up the prices in order to fend off the budget deficit. [p] Mind you, where petrol is concerned, they have basically made it public, they just get private industry to do all the work for them.[/p][/quote]I do not wish to debate with you as you reported me recently when you didn't like my response to you. If you were not such a baby then I would happily correct your pro Tory rubbish.[/p][/quote]Awww, never mind, eh? [p] Others have already 'corrected' you about your 1960s mindset regarding publically run organisations (which never, ever, work to an acceptable level). Tim Newroman

9:45am Thu 7 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

I do think there is a need for some form of formula adopted by the regulators that is vigorously updated so as to ensure there is not excessive abuse.

It does seem where you live is a strange key factor, as there are national grids for both, why is that?
I do think there is a need for some form of formula adopted by the regulators that is vigorously updated so as to ensure there is not excessive abuse. It does seem where you live is a strange key factor, as there are national grids for both, why is that? RichardR1

11:19am Thu 7 Feb 13

Davey Gravey says...

Tim Newroman wrote:
Davey Gravey wrote:
Tim Newroman wrote:
Davey Gravey wrote:
Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities
Thank God they were privatised, just think how much the governments of the day would have ramped up the prices in order to fend off the budget deficit.

Mind you, where petrol is concerned, they have basically made it public, they just get private industry to do all the work for them.
I do not wish to debate with you as you reported me recently when you didn't like my response to you. If you were not such a baby then I would happily correct your pro Tory rubbish.
Awww, never mind, eh?

Others have already 'corrected' you about your 1960s mindset regarding publically run organisations (which never, ever, work to an acceptable level).
Grow up Tory boy.
[quote][p][bold]Tim Newroman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Tim Newroman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Privatization for you. Should have been kept public like all the utilities[/p][/quote]Thank God they were privatised, just think how much the governments of the day would have ramped up the prices in order to fend off the budget deficit. [p] Mind you, where petrol is concerned, they have basically made it public, they just get private industry to do all the work for them.[/p][/quote]I do not wish to debate with you as you reported me recently when you didn't like my response to you. If you were not such a baby then I would happily correct your pro Tory rubbish.[/p][/quote]Awww, never mind, eh? [p] Others have already 'corrected' you about your 1960s mindset regarding publically run organisations (which never, ever, work to an acceptable level).[/p][/quote]Grow up Tory boy. Davey Gravey

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