Officious Power Companies (N Power)
and ineffective Ombudsmen
About seven years ago I bought another freehouse in Taunton, in need of restoration as usual and a good uplift. I took on a young chef who had recently left another pub on the outskirts of Taunton which had changed hands a couple of months after my purchase.
Shortly afterwards I started getting electricity bills from Npower saying that I owed several thousand pounds for a pub called the Lamb and Flag, which this chef had been at.
I phoned Npower and said that I had nothing to do with the Lamb & Flag and they insisted that I had been the tenant and had written proof, finally I had to get my Accountant to write to them and confirm that I had absolutely nothing to do with the Lamb & Flag and the matter was dropped.
Five years later after I had retired I received a letter from Debt Collectors saying that I owed over £8000.00 pounds to Npower and they would be calling to collect goods to this value.
I phoned the Debt Collectors and they gave me a reference and phone number for Npower, who I duly phoned to be told by a very officious woman that they had a written statement that I was the tenant of the Lamb & Flag and they would pursue me for the outstanding debt, after numerous phone calls, letters to Energywatch and a further letter from my Accountant, they dropped the matter, paid my Accountants fees and gave me £50.00.
It eventually turned out that the outgoing owner had phoned them to give the completion date, which they claimed that they had no record of, the new owner was annoyed because his chef left him and came to me, he did not register his new ownership of the Lamb & Flag with Npower, but wrote to them saying that I had been the previous owner, consequently all the bills were sent to me.
It would appear that he did not pay any electricity bills for the next eighteen months when he sold it and vanished, leaving me as being the only name that they had.
Npower said subsequently it was not for them to prove that I owed the money, but for me to prove that I didn’t and they would take all legal action necessary to recover the debt, which is a frightening scenario.
The moral of the story is always confirm your completion of a termination of any supply in writing, do not rely on a phone call. I did eventually get the address of the pub owner and passed it to Npower, but they had no proof that he actually was responsible, he had a lady friend that held the licence and he theoretically owned it and I think he got away without paying anything.
Note:- I had cause to ring the Ombudsman dealing with Energy Suppliers Dirty Tricks, NPower have one direct line for complaints, the others go on another line, which says little for NPower.
The Ombudsman was not a great deal of use, they made a settlement of £100 + in my favour against the offending Energy supply, who sent a cheque for £5.00 as settlement in full, the Ombudsman said the case was closed after I sent details of the so called settlement??????