According to a judge ruling, energy supplier npower has been ordered to pay damages to a Northampton man for persistent harassment over a protracted period, reports Utility Week. Judge Bray has awarded Mr. Christopher Poncelet £3,000 in damages after he received 15 inaccurate bills and had to fend off debt collectors 14 times after npower made a billing error.
Mr. Poncelet works at home for a US software firm and because he works on American time he decided to use npower as his energy supplier due to its cheap night rate. He provided npower with his meter readings online. But, according to Sarah Canning, of Franklins Solicitors, these readings were flagged up by npower as ‘unusual’. It transpires that npower presumed them to be incorrect then manually switched the tariff over to the more expensive day rate. Ms. Canning explained this occurred “despite Poncelet telling npower throughout the period that this was not the case”.
Mr. Poncelet, who had been in dispute with npower for three years, decided to take the matter to court after npower blocked his attempt to switch energy supplier. With a degree in maths, he was able to analyse all the bills and calculate what he should have been charged.
Awarding the damages, Judge Bray described the gas and electricity supplier’s actions as:
“The oppressive and unacceptable conduct of a large company over a small individual”
Apologising to Mr. Poncelet in court, npower said it was rectifying the issue:
“We are still looking at ways in which to learn from this case. In particular we will be talking to our meter-readers to ensure this type of confusion does not happen again”.