Personal finance expert Martin Lewis has criticised energy firm Npower after it posted losses of £137 million in 2015, adding that customers had “stopped bitching and started switching”.
In the wake of 2,400 redundancies and the loss of 350,000 customers, Mr Lewis said that while he feels “sympathy” for Npower’s employees, he has “no sympathy” for a brand which he claims has been “poorly run and so dire for its customers”.
“I think without any doubt there are two companies of the ’big six’ whose customer service is so dire, even compared to the rest of them – and that’s Scottish Power and Npower,” he said.
“Npower has had systemic issues with its billing capacity, which means simply that for the last few years, if you are an Npower customer, you don’t know what your bill is.
“Too high, too low; we’ve had people who have left Npower months ago who were later told they’d been billed an extra thousand pounds on top. Now that’s not good business, and it’s not good for customers.
“I have made sure that I have never advised customers to switch to Npower, because when you can’t trust a company with its billing system, you can’t trust it at all. It’s absolutely no surprise to me that customers have left it – and I’d advise more to do so.”
Between September 2013 and December 2014, Npower was found to have issued more than 500,000 late bills to its customers, with many receiving inaccurate bills. During the same period, the firm received more than two million complaints from customers.
While a growing number of customers have left the “big six” firms for smaller suppliers in recent years, Mr Lewis said that in Npower’s case, many were simply moving to another big supplier because of “abominable” service.
“There is great movement, even in the big six,” he said, adding that the firm’s record fine from the regulator Ofgem was the result of “repeated and systemic failings”.
In December, Npower was fined £26 million for failing to bill customers correctly and deal with complaints effectively.
“Every company sells the same gas, the same electricity. The only thing that changes is customer service and customer billing. But if you get both of these wrong, people will at some point go.
“Now that all the drivers are out there to get people to move, it will be Npower customers who are first to pack up and switch.”
A spokeswoman for Npower said: “Today’s announcement is the beginning of a two-year recovery plan to rebuild our business and improve our service to customers. While we’re already seeing results – and halved complaints last year – we know there’s still a huge task ahead of us.”