Moneywise helps reader save hundreds

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4 April 2012

Q

In 2008, I switched energy suppliers from British Gas to nPower. Last September, I decided to switch again to get a better deal.However, when my new provider approached nPower it discovered that while I had been paying nPower by direct debit for the past three and a half years, my gas had always been supplied by British Gas.Over the past three years, British Gas has repeatedly written to me asking for money but when I'd queried it nPower assured me that it was supplying my gas. nPower has now admitted the mistake and agreed to give me a full refund of everything I've paid over the past three and a half years. But, as I had switched to nPower as its gas was cheaper I am left with a shortfall of £200 between my refund and what I owe British Gas.So now I am stuck with British Gas until I can repay the full amount. nPower is refusing to pay the £200 owed to British Gas, and has offered me just £75 in compensation, even though it has taken thousands of pounds from me for service it hasn't been supplying.Please can you help me?
From
Emma Harris/Cardiff

A

We receive letters about a wide array of problems here at Moneywise but we were shocked at the level of incompetence shown here by two of Britain's biggest energy suppliers.

When we got in touch, both companies were quick to hold their hands up and accept that Emma had received very poor service. nPower explained that the problem had come about as "national metering records were incorrect", leading to the initial switch taking place on an out-of-date, unused meter. It was a "horrendously complicated" problem but nPower admits that it should have sorted it out much more quickly.

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"We can see why Ms Harris is so frustrated. We're really sorry about all the time it has taken to resolve this situation and we will make sure she is not left out of pocket."

nPower has now refunded her all the payments she made to it and given her £200 to cover the shortfall between her payments to it and what she owed British Gas. On top of that, it has also given Emma £75 in compensation.

British Gas has also apologised to Emma for its failings. The firm has stated that because it had failed to solve the issue over such a long period it will apply its 'back billing policy', which means it won't charge her for any bills that are older than one year.

"We are very sorry for any distress these problems may have caused Ms Harris. Although the initial fault was not our own, we should have resolved the issue. Because of our error we will only charge Ms Harris for the energy she has used in the past 12 months," says Elliott Grady, spokesperson for British Gas.

Now the situation is resolved, Emma is free to switch to the most competitive deal on the market - although this time she insists she will be making sure the switch has been completed before she hands over any money.

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