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npower vs OVO

I have just switched my electricity and gas supply to OVO and it wasn’t a price decision. In fact I have signed up for their green tarrif so I am actually paying a little more, but the stories of great customer service were sufficiently powerful to make me put my money where my customer experience mouth is.

Sadly, I am also leaving npower with nothing to do with the cost of supply and have a customer service tail of woe to tell that reveals broken systems and processes that cannot support the good intentions of the staff. I promised to write to the member of staff that was dealing with me and summarise what had happened and thought I’d share it here:

Dear Diane,

We spoke recently about problems I have been having with npower and despite the fact I have made the decision to switch providers I did promise to send a letter setting out why and so here it is.

You will see from your system various communications and I will first point to my letter to Julie Jaglowski, Customer Services Director of 6th May 2011. This letter explained that the property was a holiday home and asked that all correspondence was sent to my home address (shown above). The letter was sent after numerous phone calls had failed to result in a change and I hoped at Julie’s lofty position she would have the power (see what I did there) to enforce the change.

I received a reply to this letter 12th May 2011 from Sarah Harrison, Customer Service Advisor (presumably Julie was too busy making sure letters were sent to the correct address to actually write back to me), apologising and confirming that all correspondence would now be sent to my home address and acknowledging the property is a holiday home.

13th May 2011, Brian Watson, Customer Care Team Manager wrote to me thanking me for contacting npower and asking if I was happy with the resolution and explanation given. He wrote to me at the holiday home address (obviously Julie had not yet got to Brian).

In July 2011, friends used the holiday home and brought back a number of items of post from npower all relating to the gas meter safety inspection. The letters had an increasingly threatening and urgent tone until the final one was a “Warrant of Entry to Enter Your Home”. Apparently Julie’s influence had not extended to the courts either.

I had first sight of this pile of correspondence 31st July and called npower 1st August and was told that the premises was being entered 2nd August. As this was happening I would be on my way to Spain for a holiday so it wasn’t ideal and I had visions of my holiday home being left open all summer. I offered the 7/8/9 September as alternative dates but was told that was not possible – it was simply too urgent and too dangerous for me to not have this gas meter safety inspection sooner.

After approximately two hours of phone calls and no doubt endless hard work by your colleagues I was told the appointment could be postponed and when would I like it scheduled for.  Once again suggested 8th September when I would guarantee to be at the holiday home.

I received three phone messages from you between the 1st August and 7th September. All left voicemails with no detail of the reason for the call. The number to call was an 0845 number so I would be returning the call at my expense. Because of the problems I had experienced the first time I received a message, despite being in Spain, I called and spoke to one of your colleagues who explained the reason for the call was to confirm the 8th September.

That call was 22nd August. I then received a call 1st September again leaving a message, which I returned, again at my expense and was told the call concerned confirming the 8th September appointment. I politely explained that I had already received a call, returned it from Spain and was happy that the 8th was in my diary. You then called me on the 7th September and left a message, which I again responded to at my expense also asking to confirm the 8th September and that was when we spoke at greater length.

But it gets even better!

I arrived at my holiday home 6th September to find letters from npower as follows:

  • 2nd August from Brian Watson ref: CT/COMPACK
    • Apologising and telling me my complaint has been assigned to an advisor in the complaints team
  • 2nd August from Brian Watson ref: CT/COMPES2
    • Apologising and telling me my complaint has been assigned to the Executive complaints team
  • 25th August from Diane Scott ref: 98270688
    • Explaining you had been having difficulty getting hold of me by phone and confirming the appointment on the 8th September

 Despite all the calls and letters, npower had still failed to amend my correspondence address.

 To add insult to injury I was in attendance during the “Gas & Electricity Meter Safety Inspection” and it was nothing more than meter readings. The lady turned up with a digital recorder and nothing else. Presumably she is equipped with an acute sense of smell and x-ray vision!

I hope you will agree this is a fiasco, but even if you do I will probably never hear from you for ages as you will no doubt write to me at my Devon address


In fact credit where to Diane at npower, I did receive a letter from her to my home address and also the offer of compensation which was paid even though they know I am switching.