Angela Poulton, ex-licensee of the Tollgate Inn in Bury St Edmunds, received a backdated electricity bill of more than £30,000 in February this year, despite the fact she left the pub in December 2011. The letter from Npower stated that invoices had been based on five digit readings rather than six digit readings.
Poulton took the case to the energy ombudsman who ruled in favour with Npower, stating: “We accept that npower business was at fault for accepting the readings you provided; and failing to investigate the accuracy of the data collector readings. However, a customer is responsible to pay for the energy they have consumed.”
Despite this, the bill was reduced to around £13,500 as a good will gesture and the ombudsman said Npower should have resolved the problem sooner.
However, since reading the article ‘Licensee wins legal battle with Npower over electricity bill’ (21 October) on the Publican’s Morning Advertiser website, Stephen Poulton, Angela’s father, has requested a review of the case, arguing that her situation is exactly the same.
He told the PMA: “I am now paying this money out of my own pocket because Angela is still trying to pay off the debts from her business closure and Npower kept threatening us with bankruptcy proceedings if we did not put together a payment plan.
“I feel that Npower have ridden roughly over the top of us, failed to admit serious accounting mistakes, and used bully-boy tactics with an innocent and loyal customer. I am also appalled at the ombudsman agreeing with them.”
Unlikely to succeed
Poulton is awaiting a reply from the ombudsman regarding his request for a review of the case. However, Poulton said Endeavour Partnership, the law firm that represented the County Durham licensee who won his case against NPower, said although the situation was very similar a court challenge is unlikely to succeed because Poulton has already accepted the ombudsman’s decision and begun a repayment plan to Npower.
An Ombudsman Services spokesperson confirmed that it had received further correspondence from Poulton but it could not disclose any information on the outcome of the case.
t added: “However, where a final decision has been issued a request to reconsider the case can only be accepted in exceptional circumstances. By this we mean where significant evidence or facts were not available at the time of the final decision, or they were not taken into account, and had such evidence or facts been available or taken into account then the conclusion reached would have been substantially different.”
A Npower spokesperson said: “While the ombudsman ruled in our favour, we don’t want to see any of our customers struggle and have reduced the bill to £13,499.05 to be paid over three years.”