Ofgem has fined the energy provider npower £2 million for failing to handle customer complaints correctly.
After British Gas was fined £2.5 million for a similar failing earlier this year, npower has been fined £2 million for not handling complaints properly and failing to provide those complaining with the details of the Energy Ombudsman’s redress service.
Ofgem found that npower did not record the required details for complaints by domestic and microbusiness customers. The energy company also failed to implement policies and processes for dealing with complaints efficiently and within a certain time.
Speaking from Ofgem, Sarah Harrison, senior partner for Sustainable Development said, “Consumers have a right to expect that energy companies will comply with the standards. npower failed to do so and although it took remedial action, it has incurred a penalty for failing consumers”.
She added “Energy suppliers now have a golden opportunity to convince consumers that they can be trusted, by getting behind Ofgem’s sweeping reforms for the retail market. This is the quickest way of restoring consumer trust in an industry badly tarnished by poor supplier behaviour”.
In response an npower spokesman said “We are very sorry, we let our high standards slip on this occasion. A small number of processes were not correctly adhered to. We have zero tolerance for this type of issue and we’ll continue to work hard to make sure our customers are put first”.
Ofgem is also investigating the way EDF Energy handles customer complaints. Utility Exchange reported earlier this year that British Gas had been fined £2.5m for a similar offence.
New regulations for handling complaints were introduced by Ofgem in 2008 and a minimum standard which customers could expect was set out.
All of the Big Six energy companies have increased their gas and electricity prices over the last few months and npower increased its average gas tariffs by 15.7% and electricity by 7.2% this month blaming the increase on wholesale power prices. It’s not just domestic prices which have increased though, business electricity prices and gas tariffs have also increased over the last few months.