In one of the most headline-grabbing examples of poor credit control to make the news in recent years, the utilities provider npower has been given an ultimatum – bill promptly, or halt sales.
Ofgem reports that npower have agreed to monthly targets through until August, during which time they must achieve satisfactory reductions in their problematic level of late billing.
An Ofgem investigation has also been launched into the issue, to determine whether npower’s customer service falls foul of the newly introduced Standards of Conduct.
Some progress has already been made, so that new npower customers can now expect their direct debit payments to be set up promptly in a greater proportion of cases.
But Ofgem are still concerned, citing a total of 1.4 million complaints made against npower in 2013, equivalent to one for every four customers.
Sarah Harrison, senior partner in charge of enforcement, said: “Customers have suffered service failures for too long.
“That’s why Ofgem has secured binding commitments from npower to reduce its bill backlog or face curbs on sales, alongside launching a wider investigation under Ofgem’s new Standards of Conduct.”
August will be the red-letter day for npower, when the company will find out if it has succeeded in making the improvements demanded by Ofgem.
If these improvements have not been made, telesales activity will have to halt – potentially having a significant impact on the utility’s ability to increase the size of its customer base.