Follow this topicFollow this topic Knowledge » Gas and electricity

Npower fined £60,000 for persistent nuisance calls

Rebecca Rutt
by Lovemoney Staff Rebecca Rutt on 06 December 2012  |  Comments 15 comments

Npower is the latest energy company to be fined by the regulator, this time for nuisance calls.

Npower fined £60,000 for persistent nuisance calls

Energy giant Npower has been fined £60,000 by the regulator Ofcom after it was found to have made repeated abandoned calls to customers.

The calls made by Npower between 1st February and 21st March 2011 were found to be in breach of legislation found in the Communications Act 2003 and Ofcom rules.

An abandoned call means when a customer picks up the phone they will hear pre-recorded information rather than an actual human voice. Npower was also found guilty of playing marketing messages to customers during some of these calls.

Automatic diallers are used by companies to make abandoned calls to maximise the number of people they can reach. But there is a limit imposed by Ofcom on the number of these calls a company can make.

Ofcom says Npower will be providing compensation to those who have suffered because of this. Those affected will be contacted and will receive a £10 high street shopping voucher.

The maximum fine for making too many of these calls was raised to £2 million in September 2010.

Isolated incident

Npower has apologised and said: “We have good controls in place and believe that these instances were isolated exceptions.”

With regards to the marketing messages, it said: "We included the message to help explain why we were calling but we accept the finding and had already removed these words in early July last year."

E.ON fines

Npower is not the only energy company to be fined recently. Last month E.ON was ordered to pay back £1.4 million to customers who had been wrongly overcharged.

This was due to a mistake in the pricing and affected around 94,000 customers which were identified and contacted.

What do you think about the latest fine? Is it enough? Let us know in the comment box below.

More on gas and electricity:

Compare gas and electricity prices

First Utility struggles with customer service

Energy companies keep £1.2 billion of our savings

Government green plans to push energy bills up by £95

The alternatives to the big six energy providers

Enjoyed this? Show it some love

Twitter
General

Comments (15)

  • marram
    Love rating 49
    marram said

    Npower lied to me on the phone about pricing: they told me they could undercut e-on, when I questioned it as I had already checked the tariffs online, I was told it was a special price which I could not get online. When I checked later with their customer service I found that there was no such offer. I complained and was paid a small amount of compensation, plus the changeover was nullified. I went back to e-on whom I have found to be a good supplier, and always the cheapest to date in this area which is very expensive (even though there is a power station within spitting distance!). I felt sorry for e-on, but I have no sympathy whatsoever for Npower, may they rot. If I had not questioned it I would have been £400 in debt by the end of the year.

    Report on 06 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • css
    Love rating 18
    css said

    Most of the Multi Nationals or Nationals are very crooked with hidden agendas. Corporations like Starbucks, Google, Amazon etc, have already been exposed for paying the absolutely minimal taxes - by clever or accountant fabricated shell companies. The likes of Nat Power, and e-on, and loads of others are the same. Make a call to anyone, and it is at least half an hour before you can talk to a human voice. You will pressing this key or that key, listen to music and what not, and charged at premium rates before you speak to a real person, and 99.9% of the time, that person is an idiot as he can not answer even the simplest of questions.

    Punishment fines as imposed at present are not enough. These should be increased and compensation to the victims paid, plus people running these systems from the corporations should be casterated.

    Report on 06 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • MsSameOld
    Love rating 0
    MsSameOld said

    I am getting a number of calls at the moment where on answering the phone there is a silence for a minute and then a recorded female American voice says "Goodbye", and that's all. On dialling 1471 I find the caller has withheld their number.

    This is INFURIATING when I have broken off doing a job or dashed from another room to answer the phone and what IS the point in this? What does any company gain? I can't even complain because I don't know who the caller was.

    Report on 06 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Aitken B
    Love rating 146
    Aitken B said

    £60 Grand and a few £10 vouchers - Really!!!

    Loose change to them.

    Pity they couldn't be fined for profiteering, say 80% of their profits here and overseas.

    No corporation tax dodging here.

    Maybe that would get their attention and help out "poor" old George.

    Report on 06 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • ambahall
    Love rating 21
    ambahall said

    Who exactly receives this 60K? Presumably not the "customers" because they get a voucher. So the Government under the guise of Ofcom?

    I really don't know so anyone who does know please tell me.

    Liz

    Report on 06 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Mike10613
    Love rating 626
    Mike10613 said

    How's my answering machine going to spend a £10 voucher? ;)

    Report on 06 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • culluding-fool
    Love rating 60
    culluding-fool said

    @marram, I had the same problem with Npower a few years back when they came knocking on my door and showed me how much I could save on my electric bill. I was on a pre-payment meter back then and the cost of electric went up by £2 per week after the change-over! More recently I changed over to M&S after using a price comparison website which told me I would be saving money. I am paying the same amount each month only now the amount I owe is creeping up so it's only a matter of time before they up my monthly payment. If you try out a number of comparison websites using the same figures you get all kinds of wild results so they must be using different methods for calculating the prices.

    £60k isn't a fine to such a large company. I bet they had a good celebration that evening, probably costing more than the fine!

    It would be nice if companies who bugged by post and email could also be fined...

    Report on 06 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • onlinegenie
    Love rating 2
    onlinegenie said

    I wouldn't touch Npower. One of their salesmen came to our front door and when I told him I wasn't interested he asked me to sign a form to say that he had informed me about Npower's services. The form was a legally binding contract to transfer to them. I refused to sign it and still he wouldn't go away till I shut the door in his face.

    @MsSameOld - you stay on the phone for a minute of silence? I put the phone down after much less than that!

    Report on 07 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • ikemo44
    Love rating 1
    ikemo44 said

    I think that Ofcom should get really tough with all nuisance calls. It's becoming an epidemic. I am plagued by sales calls as well as silent calls and, despite me being registered with the TPS, complaining to BT produces a mere shrug of the shoulders. I asked if they could instigate call barring from unknown numbers - which they can - but at a price. In my view this should be a free service. Lately it's my mobile that is being targeted and, worryingly, they call me by name. How can this happen? I'm afraid that I just tell them to clear off! If I want house/car insurance, to change my energy supplier or feel I have been mis-sold PPI or anything else, I shall seek out the relevant agency. £60,000 fine is an absolute pittance to NPower. They are still laughing. The fine should have been both punitive and widely published. In the event it was neither.

    Report on 07 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • marram
    Love rating 49
    marram said

    Whatever they get fined will be passed on to customers anyway, in one way or another, even if only by less expenditure on infrastructure and the resulting inconvenience.

    Don't get me started on nuisance calls...

    Report on 07 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • barrycash
    Love rating 4
    barrycash said

    No it isn't enough. But it is a start. The Panorama programme recently found out that 1200 cases of ignoring the cold calling rules had been passed to the regulator and not one had been prosecuted. The fact is that many companies are just ignoring the TPS and that is wrong.

    Report on 07 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Steviebaby1959
    Love rating 34
    Steviebaby1959 said

    Maybe Rebecca Rutt could do some research into this matter of nuisance calls from Utility Companies, which, just like Banking Institutions is covered by a wide range of legal Acts of Parliament, I think I'm correct in saying that you can report any organisation that harrasses you, for an ASBO, if this is the case, then the general public would be far more in agreement with CEO's, Directors and Senior Managers of these types of companies receiving the threat of an ASBO as being far more of a deterrent than a measly £60k fine.

    Report on 07 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    @css: "Most of the Multi Nationals or Nationals are very crooked with hidden agendas"

    It would be interesting to hear you substantiate that ridiculous statement. The only agenda I see is maximise profits, (partly by minimising taxation) and raise the share price (and therefore the value of the company).

    Not very hidden and not crooked either.

    Report on 07 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Arblaster
    Love rating 43
    Arblaster said

    Npower should be banned from trading, and, in my opinion, some of its execs should be jailed. Some members of my family were harassed for non-payment of bills by this company's debt collectors. Before you say they should pay their bills, I will point out that their property was not supplied by Npower, nor had it ever been. Nonetheless, they were threatening to cut off the power supply to the house, even though a two-year-old child was living there. My family asked me to sort it out. So I spent two-thirds of a whole day on the phone trying to get through to their so-called customer care department. Luckily I had the sense to telephone through their sales department, which is an 0800 number. After continually speaking to people who were either surly or sounded as though they had just been smacked over the head with a sledgehammer, I was finally put through to a manager. When I told her that Npower did not actually supply the property in question, she slammed the phone down.

    I also got to speak to Npower's debt collectors. And when their own debt collectors are moaning about them, then you know you ought to switch suppliers, even if it will cost you a little more. If you are supplied by someone else, avoid Npower.

    Report on 07 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • coloratura
    Love rating 81
    coloratura said

    British Gas also kept making nuisance calls to me last year. They had sent a first bill but not a red second bill although they claimed they had but they hadn't (I was in the middle of examinations at the time) and then kept on calling and calling (with a human caller who was verbally extremely threatening - I live on my own and found this very harrowing) - probably in the region of 10 times in one day. I told them I was in the middle of working but they would not stop calling and I had even told them on numerous occasions to take my phone number off their list and not to phone me at home. In the end I had to threaten to take matters to my solicitor. I have never failed to pay a bill and have been with the company for about 30 years so they had plenty of back records to look at. They then took to using abandoned calls which at first I answered and even phoned the number back and told them again not to phone me at home. These have now ceased of late, no doubt due to the above ruling. I suspect these calls have been used country-wide. I would say that £60,000 is not enough but the more they are fined the more they will pass it on to customers. I think that offending companies should be put into liquidation if they make these unsolicited and threatening calls (and by the way I own some Centrica/BG shares - yes I want to earn a dividend but don't believe in hounding people - they can take persistent non-payers to court).

    Report on 08 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

Post a comment

Sign in or register to post a reply.

Our top deals

Credit card
company
Balance transfers rate and period Representative
APR
Apply
now

Barclaycard 31Mth Platinum Visa

0% for 31 months (2.99% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. A Balance Transfer fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 2.99% by a refund (terms and conditions apply). Plus an additional £20 fee refund on balance transfers over £2000.

Barclaycard 30Mth Platinum Visa

0% for 30 months (2.89% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. A Balance Transfer fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 2.89% by a refund (terms and conditions apply). Plus an additional £20 fee refund on balance transfers over £2000.

MBNA 30Mth Platinum Credit Card Visa

0% for 30 months (2.89% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status.
W3C  Thank you for using Three Kings