npower – Can it get any worse? Yes, yes it can

Four days ago I wrote about npower. I’ll give you the short version. Basically, npower chose to whack up their prices so we decided to leave and switch to another provider. We successfully moved in November and switched across to Scottish Power. Days later npower made nearly 1,500 people redundant.


Time went by. npower told me that my final bill (which details how much is owed along with a breakdown of how this is calculated) would be on the way within 30 days. It didn’t arrive, and didn’t arrive on the online npower portal either. So, I called them. They said that they’d START to generate the final bill but it’d take at least another 10 business days. I was a bit annoyed and asked why, after more than 30 days, they were only now going to actually begin looking at the bill. They didn’t really answer that one.

So I waited and nothing happened, so I complained, then I complained again. Following my npower rant they told me that there were IT problems which – get this – prevented them from producing PDF documents.

Hilarious. This is a major company that can’t, apparently, knock out PDF’s successfully. They told me that a “call handler” would definitely call me withing 2-3 business days to sort this all out.


Guess what kids. Go on, you’ll never guess.

They didn’t. This company, which is fast turning into an utter shambles due to their sheer incompetence to do the most basic and essential task, can’t even update customers who are complaining. Yet another broken promise. They told me that the final bill would be with me within 10 business days, which it wasn’t. They told me that they’d have it fixed “within days”, which they didn’t. They told me that they’d call me to update me, which they haven’t.

So, today I logged into their online portal, just to double-check. Hello! What’s this. Yes, it’s another apology. The full detail is below, but I’ll give you the short version. It basically says that they’ve cocked up an IT change and, with 5.4 million customers (I’m not sure how many of these still have left recently), it’s becoming a bit of a problem.

They’ve also chucked 800 people onto the desks to sort out the billing disasters that are continuing to occur. Hmmm.. perhaps they’d wished that those 1,460 jobs hadn’t been killed off in December now eh? Bad move maybe?


Paul Massara, CEO of RWE npower, makes two promises. The first is to ensure that you don’t lose out financially. Fair play, npower have given me a £1.49 credit. What I’d like to know, Mr Massara, is HOW YOU MADE THE £700-ODD CREDIT TURN INTO £1.49.

I’ve been waiting NEARLY TWO MONTHS. It’s basically like me saying, “Hey Paul, you know that £10 you paid me for those sweets? Well, I know you’ve not eaten all the sweets, but I’m giving you a few pence back. I’m not going to tell you quite how I worked that one out, just trust me on this. Those few pennies are back in your pocket, so I’m helping you out.”

It’s just mad. npower keep telling me that they’re “showing me” how they’re helping purely by the fact that they’ve sent me some credit, but I don’t know how the smeg this has been worked out, and I’m starting to doubt whether they know how it’s worked out.

Secondly, npower CEO Paul says that “we’re sorting out the problems as fast as we can”. Well, sorry Paul mate, but THIS IS NOT FAST.


He also says..

We have an additional 800 staff working for us to address our billing issues.

Not enough, I’ve not had the promised call-back and it takes AN AGE to get through to your incredibly busy call centres.

We’ve already been in contact with many customers impacted by the current billing system problems who will also have been told about the specific actions being taken to deal with the issue which affects them.

I seriously doubt it, because when your staff tell me that something will happen (“the bill will arrive in 10 business days” or “we will contact you in 2-3 days”) it never happens.

They have, at least, been honest about the problem. According to the announcement, they’ve been installing “a new computer system”. This is perhaps the most generic explanation of an IT problem that I’ve ever heard. That’s like playing with lego and telling people that you’re “passing time with a construction system”.

They say that it’s a “huge piece of work for a business as big as ours”.

Sorry, but I work in IT. I’ve worked with incredibly important and colossal infrastructure systems which simply MUST operate 24/7. You DO NOT push through an upgrade like this without a roll-back plan or “Plan B”, especially when you’ve got such a huge customer base. Apologising is good, I appreciate that, but whacking more staff onto the phones to fire-fight, give false promises and who fail to follow-up on issues is not going to fix the problems.

So please, please, please fix this. Oh, and I tried calling yesterday but, because it was Sunday, your super-special customer-service numbers weren’t open. Thanks for that.