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A customer has turned the tables on his energy provider in an amazing way. Steve Clarke, a journalist and author who lives in the south of England with his son, had waited for months for Npower to refund his money. He had been £137 in credit since he switched his utility provider in November 2013.
Steve Clarke told the BBC Radio 4 radio show You And Yours that in spite of demanding his refund many times, the company were not responding to his requests. His patience reached its limit when he received a letter in the post from Npower which was not a refund but, in fact, a warning letter about non-payment.
Mr. Clarke decided to turn the tables on Npower, which is owned by the German utility giant RWE and makes up one of the United Kingdom’s Big Six energy companies, after this incident. He responded to the warning letter with one of his own, set out in exactly the same style. It read:
If you are having difficulty paying the money back, which Npower has been holding on to since November, then please get in touch and I’m sure we can sort something out. With interest of course.
The letter was also imprinted with a big red ‘final notice’ headline and warned Npower of a late payment fee. Mr. Steve Clarke then went on to bill Npower £50 and demanded that the money be paid within seven days of receipt. The company, surprisingly, agreed to his request and offered an apology.
Mr. Clarke said:
The regulator should be looking into the days and weeks it takes to pay someone’s money back and if the likes of Npower persistently refuse to give money back straight away they should be fined heavily. They’re very quick to bill the rest of us so perhaps if we all hit them with charges they would realise they need to improve service.
The firm has said that the problem arose from an issue with change in their IT system which has caused customers to be incorrectly billed. The director of communications for Npower, Mr. Guy Esnouf, apologised on behalf of the company. He said:
We are very sorry. Where we know we have caused inconvenience we will look to a goodwill gesture because we do not want to cause our customers inconvenience. We said in December we are having system problems. We are making good progress, but we made it clear we wanted to improve, we are trying to improve and we are.