Npower Says Sorry As Bill Complaints Soar
One of the 'big six' energy suppliers, npower, has told Sky News it has let many of its customers down amid a rising tide of complaints to regulators and charities.
Information compiled by the watchdog Consumer Futures found that the company continued to receive the highest number of complaints between July and September - around eight times more than the best-performing firm, SSE.
Its data suggested npower collected nearly half of all gripes against energy firms to third parties in the period, numbering 253 per 100,000 customers - a rise of 25% on the previous three months.
Npower responded to the findings by apologising.
Its director of retail, Roger Hattam, said: "Last year, we apologised to our customers for the service issues they may have faced, following the installation of a new billing system.
"I know that we've let many of our domestic customers down and I want to apologise personally for this and promise that they will not lose out financially as a direct result of these issues.
"We're working on these issues as top priority and, while we still have a long way to go, we're making good progress.
"Our customers deserve to get the best service possible and this is my commitment to them."
Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at Consumer Futures, added: "It's very disappointing to see that since our last reporting period (April - June 2013), complaints about npower have increased.
"While npower has acknowledged and apologised for its poor billing systems and agreed to pay vulnerable customers who have been disadvantaged, its deterioration in performance is still wholly unacceptable and the company must address the failure of its systems, processes and customer service to put things right.
"We expect Ofgem to monitor npower closely, so that any customers who have been a victim of poor billing practices will not lose out financially.
"Energy companies have repeatedly said they want to rebuild consumer trust.
"Good customer service and complaints handling are key ingredients to achieving this and suppliers still have a long way to go.
"Along with price, good service is important to customers.
"People want to know the relative performance on complaint handling to help them make informed choices when deciding whether to switch."
Energy firms have recently confirmed reductions to their recent hikes in bills to take account of a Government decision to reduce so-called green levies but remain under pressure on prices amid a lack of clarity over profits.
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