Our service to you. Paying for gas and electricity

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1 Our service to you Paying for gas and electricity 1

2 How to contact us If you would like more information on any of the services described in this booklet, please contact us. For details of how to contact us see the back cover of this booklet. Interpreting service If you tell us English is not your first language, we can talk to you in any language with the aid of a translator. Ask someone to call us on your behalf to tell us that you need to speak to us in your preferred language. Os byddwch chi n dweud wrthym nad Saesneg yw eich mamiaith, gallwn siarad â chi mewn unrhyw iaith gyda help cyfieithydd. Gofynnwch i rywun ein galw ar eich rhan i ddweud wrthym eich bod angen siarad â ni yn eich dewis iaith. 2

3 Our service to you Paying for gas and electricity Contents Page Introduction 4 Our service to you booklets 4 Applying for a supply 5 Security deposits 6 Your bill 7 If you think your bill is wrong 8 Ways to pay your energy bills 9 If you have difficulty paying your bill 12 Disconnection 14 Warm Response Service 16 Energy efficiency advice 17 Independent advice organisations 18 Customer Service Back cover 3

4 Introduction This booklet tells you about applying for a gas or electricity supply from npower, paying your energy bills, and what to do if you have a query about your bill. It also describes how we can help you budget for your energy bills or help you if you have difficulty paying. If you would like more information on any of the services described in this booklet, please contact us. All customer service staff have been trained on the services described in this booklet and will do everything they can to help. For details of how to contact Customer Service see the back cover of this booklet. Our service to you We want to ensure that all our customers are treated fairly and receive a service that meets their needs. The following booklets are available: If you ask us, we will send you any of these booklets in large print, in Braille, on CD or in another language. Paying for gas and electricity Prepayment meters Using electricity and gas efficiently in your home Warm Response Service Free gas safety checks Visiting your home. 4

5 Applying for a supply You can apply for a gas or electricity supply by calling us on the Customer Service number on the back cover of this booklet, or by applying online at npower.com. We will agree with you a way for you to pay your bills (see Ways to pay your energy bills on page 9 for more information). We will ask you a few simple questions and may ask you to pay by Direct Debit, join one of our payment plans or have a prepayment meter installed. When you sign an npower contract, we will send you our terms and conditions within five working days. You have a 14-day cooling off period - if you change your mind, the terms and conditions will explain how to cancel the contract. We will send you a separate letter if you have a prepayment meter, describing how the meter works, the charges and unit prices as well as where and how to buy credit. If you move into a property with a prepayment meter we would normally expect you to keep the meter for 12 months, unless your personal circumstances make this an unsuitable payment method (for example you are unable to use the prepayment meter or get to an outlet to buy credit). The letter will ask you to tell us if you have any special needs. For more information please ask for our booklet Prepayment meters. As a new customer we will send you a letter confirming: your name and address the supply address your customer account number your supply number the date when you become responsible for the supply the price you are being charged and how you have chosen to pay your bills. 5

6 Security deposits In some circumstances it may be appropriate for us to ask you for a security deposit. The amount is normally based on how much gas or electricity we expect you to use in 19.5 weeks. We will not ask for a deposit if you agree to have a prepayment meter and it is safe and practical for us to fit one. We will hold the security deposit for at least one year. If you pay your bills within 28 days of the date of issue for 12 months or if you pay by Direct Debit and do not miss a payment for 12 months, we will return the deposit to you within 14 days of request unless the account is a final account. If you do not pay your bills within 28 days or if you miss a Direct Debit payment, we reserve the right to retain your deposit until your payment pattern is acceptable. If you change supplier during this time, we will return the deposit to you within one month of you leaving, providing that all outstanding charges have been paid. If you do not feel you should pay a security deposit or disagree with the amount, please contact us. 6

7 Your bill Depending on your payment method, we will normally send you a bill or statement every 13 weeks or every 6 months. We will base your bills on: An estimate of how much gas or electricity you have used, or A meter reading taken by one of our meter readers, or A meter reading you have given us. We aim to read your meter at least once a year and base as many of our bills as possible on actual meter readings. To understand how your consumption has been calculated, we will always tell you whether the reading was an estimate or provided by one of our meter readers. With some types of prepayment meter, for example Smart or Quantum meters, we do not need to read your meter as we pick up the reading from your payment card when you buy credit. You will receive a statement twice a year. Removed meters may also be identified by a change in meter numbers shown on the bill. Estimated bills Sometimes we need to estimate your bill and we do our best to make sure our estimates are accurate. However, if we send you an estimated bill we strongly recommend that you give us your own reading. This will ensure your account is up to date and you are not unknowingly building up a debt. Sending us a regular meter reading online or by phone will mean more accurate bills, so you only pay for the energy you use. If we cannot read your meter when we call, we may leave you a card asking you to phone us with your own meter reading. We will update your account and send you a bill based on your reading. If you don t give us a reading or we don t receive it in time we will send you a bill based on an estimated reading. To give us your own reading, go online at npower.com/meterread or call the 24 hour automated meter reading line on (free from most landlines) or (included in any inclusive minutes from mobiles) 7

8 If you think your bill is wrong If you don t agree with your bill tell us at once. We won t take any further action while we are checking that your bill is right. We try to sort out any problems as quickly as possible. If it seems that the problem may continue for some time, we will ask you to pay a reasonable part of the bill. When the problem has been sorted out, we will ask you to pay any outstanding money you owe us or we will refund any money we owe you. If we cannot sort out the problem over the phone, we may ask one of our representatives to visit you, to resolve any outstanding issues. If the problem concerns a dispute about the amount of energy used that has not been resolved through our investigations, the representative may arrange for the meter to be checked. An electricity meter is checked by running a measured electrical load through it. If you are not happy with the result the next stage is to install a check meter for 4-6 weeks, which operates beside the installed meter and provides a comparison to the amount of electricity used. If you are still not satisfied with the result we will tell you how to ask for an independent meter examiner from our regulator Ofgem to check it. To test a gas meter it is necessary to remove the meter and install a new one. An independent examiner then tests the meter. If the meter is found to be accurate there will be a charge for the test, and if the meter is faulty you will not be charged. We will tell you what the charge is before carrying out any work. It is very rare for a meter to be found to be inaccurate, so you should be prepared to look for other possible reasons why your consumption is not as expected, before relying on a meter test to resolve the problem. If you write to us with a question about your energy bill, we aim to reply within five working days. If we do not reply you may be entitled to compensation under our Guaranteed Standards of Service. If you would like more information about our Guaranteed Standards of Service, please contact Customer Service or visit npower.com 8

9 Ways to pay your energy bills There are lots of ways to pay your bills and our staff are trained to help you choose the most suitable way for you. If you would like advice about the most suitable way to pay your energy bills, please contact Customer Service. Paying when you receive your bill Unless you have joined one of our payment plans we expect you to pay your bill in full when you receive it. There are several ways to pay: By post Send your payment to the address given on your bill. Please do not send cash in the post. At any bank Use the Bank Giro credit slip at the bottom of the bill. You will not have to pay a charge if you pay at your own bank, but there may be a charge if you pay at any other bank. Girobank If you have a Girobank account, fill in the Giro transfer form at the bottom of the bill and send it to Girobank. Variable Direct Debit We automatically take the amount you owe from your bank or building society account days after the date of the bill (unless you contact us to query it). At any post office You can pay your bill at any post office but there may be a charge. At an appointed agent You may be able to pay your bill at an appointed agent displaying the PayPoint or payzone sign. Debit or credit card You may be able to pay your bill by debit or credit card. There is no charge for paying by debit card. There may be a charge if you pay by credit card (we will tell you before you pay). Online or telephone banking You can pay through online or telephone banking services. You will need to quote your customer account number and our bank details (you will find these on your bill). 9

10 Payment plans You can spread the cost of your energy bills evenly throughout the year with a payment plan. If you have a current account with a bank or building society you can pay by monthly Direct Debit. This is the cheapest way to pay, as you could then qualify for a discount. We will tell you what this is before you join the scheme. You don t need to worry about remembering to pay your bill, as payments are automatically sent to us each month. If you don t have a bank account you can make regular cash payments with a payment card or payment book, every month or more frequently. Where possible we calculate your payment amount based on the gas or electricity you have used in the last year. If we do not have this information, we try to base your payments on average amounts used in similar circumstances, or on the amount you tell us your charges have been in the past. If you are a new user we will agree with you an amount we think is reasonable. We will tell you how much we think you should pay and the date of your first payment. Let us know if you don t agree, so we can discuss a revised amount or payment date with you. We will send you regular statements. If these are based on estimated readings we recommend you give your own meter reading. It is important we have accurate readings to ensure your payments are up to date. We will check that your payments are covering your charges and will ask you to increase or reduce your payments if necessary. Once a year we will send you a settlement bill or statement. If this refers to your annual review where you pay by Direct Debit and where this is based on an actual meter reading, we will automatically refund any credit balance of more than 60 to your bank account. Please contact us as soon as you receive your statement if you would rather carry this forward to reduce your next year s payment. Refunds of less than 60 are available on request. If you have not paid enough we may ask you to pay the outstanding amount. If you pay by Direct Debit this will be collected from your account unless you contact us to pay by another method. If you are unable to pay the outstanding amount you can ask us to spread it over your future payments. Please contact us as soon as you receive your bill to arrange this. If you decide to leave the payment plan we will ask you to pay any amount due and pay future quarterly bills in full when you receive them. If you move house we can set up a payment plan for your new address. If you would like to join a payment plan, please contact Customer Service. 10

11 Other ways to spread the cost of your energy Part payments We recommend that you join a payment plan, but we will always accept any part payments you want to make towards future bills. You can use a payment card or payment book to make payments at any appointed agent displaying the PayPoint or Payzone sign. When we send your bill it will show the amount you have already paid and we will expect you to pay any money still owing in full. If you would like a payment card or book or information about your local agents, please contact Customer Service Prepayment meter Prepayment meters help you budget because you pay for energy as you use it. There are no large bills to face, but there are disadvantages. For example, you must remember to buy enough credit to ensure you don t lose your energy supply, and a prepayment meter is a more expensive way to pay for energy than Direct Debit and online payment methods. For more detailed information about paying this way, including the advantages and disadvantages, please contact Customer Service or ask for our booklet Prepayment meters. You pay for your gas or electricity by charging a key or card that you insert into the meter. 11

12 If you have difficulty paying your bill When we send you a bill we are asking you to pay for energy you have already used. If you are finding it difficult to pay your bill it is important that you tell us as soon as you receive your bill. Please tell us if any of the following apply to you and tell us anything else about your circumstances that will help us to help you: Anyone in the household is either of pensionable age, disabled, chronically sick or under 18. You are receiving Income Support or Pension Credit, and have an energy debt. The debt is in the name of a past tenant. If you have made a suitable arrangement to take over the supply, you will not be responsible for the previous debt. You are a tenant and you pay your landlord for gas or electricity. If they have not paid us, we will tell the local council and you should do the same. You have applied to a money advice agency for help. advice on keeping your bills to a minimum, as well as advice on home insulation schemes to keep your home warmer. Money advice agencies If you are in financial difficulty or have many debts, you may be able to get help and advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau, money advice agency or the local council s social services department. You can find their addresses in your phone book. We will ask the appropriate agency to contact you if you give your written consent. If you have contacted one of these organisations, we will take no further action for 14 days whilst the agency investigates your circumstances. We will always take account of what they tell us when agreeing a repayment level. We will treat any information you give us as confidential, and the more we know about your circumstances the easier it is for us to help you. Our staff are trained to offer advice in a sympathetic, sensitive way and to help you choose the best way of paying your current and future bills. We also offer a free Energy Efficiency Helpline (see page 17 for more information). Expert staff can discuss how you use energy and provide 12

13 Payment plans You can pay what you owe by monthly or more frequent instalments. We will agree an amount for you to pay back, taking account of: the charges you will have to pay for future energy use; how much you can afford to pay; and any problems you ve had with payment plans in the past. Please tell us if your circumstances change, as we may be able to adjust the payment amount. If you are receiving benefits and owe us money we will not normally set the repayment amount to cover your arrears above the Fuel Direct limit. Short-term payment arrangements If your problem is temporary we will agree a way for you to pay what you owe, usually before the next bill is due, although this can be extended if necessary. Prepayment meter If appropriate we can install a prepayment meter and set it to cover the energy you use and to pay back the money you owe based on what you can afford. Once you have a prepayment meter fitted we will ask you to keep it for at least 12 months. For more information please ask for our booklet Prepayment meters. Direct payments (Fuel Direct) This may be helpful if you receive Income Support, Income-Related Job Seekers Allowance or Pension Credit, and a prepayment meter is not suitable for you. If the Department for Work and Pensions agrees they will take an amount from your weekly benefits and pay it to us to cover what you owe and your future energy use. Let us know if you think this may help you, and we will apply for a Direct Payment on your behalf. 13

14 Disconnection We have a right to cut off your supply if you do not pay your bill. This is a last resort and can be avoided if you contact us to make an arrangement to pay and keep to it. If you do not respond to your first bill, we will send a reminder about 15 days later. You should contact us as soon as possible to agree a way to pay your bill. If you do not contact us we will send you a final notice 25 days after the original bill. If you do not contact us you may have to pay extra charges as described below. We will tell you of all charges before they are made. Unfortunately these can add considerably to your debt, so please contact us as soon as possible so that we can help you avoid these charges. If you do not respond to our reminders, we will try to contact you by phone. If this is unsuccessful we will arrange for someone to visit you. If we have to visit you because you have not responded to our attempts to contact you we will normally charge you. Our staff and representatives are trained to help and offer advice, and will follow the guidelines in our booklet Visiting your home. For more information please ask for our booklet Visiting your home. 14

15 If you have still not made an arrangement to pay your bill we will start debt management procedures. We carry out a 12-point check on your account to ensure that all disputes and actions have been completed and that the bill is correct. When the check confirms no actions outstanding, we will start collection proceedings. We will make charges if we have to apply for and use a rights of entry warrant to enter your home. We will fit a prepayment meter if it is safe and practical to do so. If we have to disconnect your supply, there could be an additional charge for reconnecting your supply. We will leave a card which tells you: how much you owe; the reconnection fee, and how to contact us on the phone number provided. We will reconnect your supply within 24 hours (normal working hours) of making a satisfactory payment arrangement with you. However, a gas meter can only be reconnected when a Gas Safe Register engineer is available to purge and re-light the appliances in the property. If we do not hear from you within four weeks of disconnecting your supply, we will try to contact you. If you tell us, or if we are made aware, that anyone in the household is either of pensionable age, disabled, chronically sick or under 18, we will not cut off your supply in the winter months (1 October - 31 March), but we will still seek to recover the debt. Any agents acting on our behalf during the debt recovery process will follow the guidelines in our booklet Visiting your home. 15

16 Warm Response Service At npower we want to ensure that all our customers are treated fairly and receive a service that meets their needs. If you are an npower customer and have sight or hearing difficulties, or are disabled, chronically sick or of pensionable age you can apply to join our Warm Response Service (WRS). Joining the WRS enables us to provide you with a range of helpful services to make life easier, and helps you to notify us of any circumstances that we need to allow for when providing you with gas and/or electricity. If you know anyone else who might benefit, be sure to tell them about it too. Among the services we offer are: Braille bills, talking bills, large print or third party bills Password scheme to identify genuine callers at the door Leaflets in large print, in Braille or CD Textphone service for the hard of hearing. For households where everyone qualifies for the Warm Response Service, we also offer a range of adapters, free gas safety checks for gas customers and quarterly meter readings for those who can t read their own meter. For more information about the Warm Response Service, or for a copy of our booklet Warm Response Service visit npower.com/warmresponse or Please call the Warm Response Service team on (free from most landlines) or; (included in any inclusive minutes from mobiles). 16

17 Energy efficiency advice Reducing the amount of electricity or gas you use will save you money. For tips and ideas on how you could save visit npower.com/savingenergy Our free and impartial Energy Efficiency Helpline offers practical advice on the many ways there are to reduce your bills without sacrificing comfort or convenience. We can also advise on the grants that are available to help you improve the ability of your home to keep in the warmth. For example, if you receive income-related benefits you may be able to get home insulation measures carried out free of charge under the government s Warm Front programme. Good insulation can save you money and keep your home warmer. Our energy efficiency specialists can offer advice tailored to your circumstances. You can call our Energy Efficiency Helpline free on: (free from most landlines) or; (included in any inclusive minutes from mobiles). For more information visit npower.com/savingenergy or please ask for our booklet Using electricity and gas efficiently in your home. 17

18 Independent advice organisations There are many organisations that offer advice and information on the topics covered in this booklet. Here are the details of some national organisations. However, many of them have local groups and there are also other, locally based organisations - you can find their details in the telephone directory or by asking at your local library. National Debtline Tricorn House Hagley Road Edgbaston Birmingham B16 8TP Telephone: (free) Website: nationaldebtline.co.uk Citizens Advice Bureau Service Myddleton House Pentonville Road London N1 9LZ Telephone: Website: adviceguide.org.uk 18

19 Customer Service If you need to get in touch with us, you can visit our website npower.com and send us an . Or you can call us on (free from most landlines) (included in any inclusive minutes from mobiles) We re here to help you 8.00am pm Monday to Friday, 8.00am pm Saturday You can write to us at Customer Service npower PO Box 93 Peterlee SR8 2XX If you have hearing or speech difficulties and use a textphone, call Phone calls: Calling us on a 0800 number is normally free when you call from a landline but charges may vary if you use a mobile. Calling us on a 0330 number will cost you no more than 01 or 02 numbers from landlines or mobiles. If you get inclusive minutes with your package, calls on a 0330 number will be part of these. npower is a registered trademark and the trading name of Npower Limited (Registered No ) and its associated companies, including Npower Gas Limited (Registered No ), Npower Yorkshire Limited (Registered No ) and Npower Northern Limited (Registered No ). Registered in England and Wales, registered office: Windmill Hill Business Park, Whitehill Way, Swindon SN5 6PB npm1141/rf13514/11.13

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