Npower's poor customer communications

Npower's poor customer communications

Feb 2016

It shouldn’t be a surprise that npower’s customer service is terrible. After all, it consistently gets the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any UK energy company.

But as I’ve just been on the receiving end of their service, I thought I’d share the experience, because their communication is incredibly poor.

The background

My partner and I recently decided to change the bank we use for our joint account. This should be an easy process: all the money in the old account, and the old direct debits, get automatically transferred over to the new one.

Which is why I was just a bit surprised when this appeared in my inbox:

Your Direct Debit has been cancelled. We couldn't collect your Direct Debit amount of £xx

The confusing, scary email

It begins:

Dear Miss Aitman

Your bank has been in touch to let us know that your account has been transferred to a different bank or branch. Unfortunately we’ve been unable to collect your regular payment.

“We couldn’t collect your payment” - that says I’ve failed to pay a bill. That could affect my credit rating. So that’s pretty bad, right?

It’s also not true. In fact, our payment date is in a week or so - so they haven’t even tried to collect the payment yet.

Contradictions galore

The email goes (extracts):

  • Unfortunately we’ve been unable to collect your regular payment.
  • This change has meant we may have been unable to collect your recent payment.
  • If this has happened we’ll try again within 5 days.

Hang on - “may have been unable”? “If this has happened”? So maybe they haven’t failed to collect the payment after all.

It continues:

  • In future we’ll continue to collect your payments as normal.
  • Because your current tariffs are only available if you pay by Direct Debit we’ll also need to transfer you to a new contract on our Standard tariffs shown over the page.
  • This new tariff may cost you more and unfortunately you will also lose the discount you currently receive for paying by Direct Debit.

More contradictions: “We’ll continue to collect as normal” vs “We won’t use direct debit any more”. And more worrying information - this is going to cost us money.

The main bit of the email finishes:

We know it can be hard to stay on top of the bills sometimes. If you’re finding things difficult, please get in touch - we do want to help.

That implies, pretty heavily, that we’ve missed a bill payment, and we’re in trouble. Of all of the bits of the email, this scared me the most.

(I’m not going to go into detail about the rest of it, which is 400 more words of contact details and information about changing suppliers. You can read the full thing here.)

What actually happened

I immediately got in touch with npower support. Who told me:

  • Yes, the direct debit has been cancelled, but a new one will be created imminently.
  • We haven’t missed a bill.
  • They haven’t changed our tariff.

So almost all of the information they emailed us was actually false. I didn’t need to contact them, because everything was proceeding normally.


This email is full of inaccuracies, contradictions, and misinformation. It repeats itself in subtly different ways, so its meaning is completely unclear.

It makes me scared that I’m going to have my credit rating downgraded for missing a bill payment, and that something’s gone wrong with my bank account. God knows how it would feel to get this as someone vulnerable - how terrifying would this be for a poor pensioner?

The only sensible response when you get this email is to contact npower. That’s the only way to find out if you’re in trouble or not.

In essence: this email is shit. It has no consideration for npower’s customers, and is designed to scare them. It’s expensive - it increases npower’s support burden and costs them money. The only responsible thing for them to do is rewrite it to give their customers the (accurate) information they need.