Questions of cash: My father’s estate is waiting on a refund from Npower


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The Independent Online

Q | My father died last year and we sold his house in December. Final meter readings were supplied to npower that month. In April npower sent a final bill which showed that they owed his estate £911.52. I was told this would be refunded within 28 days.

Npower failed to reimburse me by that deadline and so I made a formal complaint. The Ombudsman issued his report at the end of July requiring npower to pay the amount of £911.52 within 28 days and to credit my account with £150 as a gesture of goodwill, in addition to the £100 that npower had already agreed. Npower wrote to me on 26 August, 16 September and 15 October to say that it couldn’t refund me due to a technical issue. This has prevented me closing my father’s estate and paying out the proceeds to the beneficiaries. PC, by email.

A | This is an amazing failure by npower. But it promises that this is now resolved. It is paying £350 on top of the £911.52. A spokesman for npower says: “We’re issuing a refund and factoring in a suitable goodwill gesture, to say sorry.” 

Q | My mother was sold a Telecom Pro-Call Blocker over the phone in January by the Telecom Protection Service. I have power of attorney and have been trying to obtain a refund since February, when the device was returned. The terms and conditions specify that if the device is returned within seven days there would be a full refund within 30 days. This did not happen. GM, by email.

A | The Telecom Protection Service did not respond to our two requests for a refund. There are many criticisms online of the company. Your mother paid for the device using a Lloyds Visa debit card. We asked Lloyds to consider making a chargeback to obtain the refund. Unfortunately, the transaction falls outside the 120-day limit but we are pleased to report that Lloyds accepted our argument and has refunded your mother in full. A spokeswoman for Lloyds said: “As a gesture of goodwill, on this occasion we are able to refund the customer and we will look to recoup the money directly from the company.”

Q | I have been a customer of TalkTalk for five years, despite repeated technical problems with its broadband service, which is very slow. My phone line is so bad that I have changed phones three times in the last year only to discover it is not the fault of the handset, but with the service provider.

What is worse is that money has been taken from my account without my authorisation. In August, £27.90 was taken without my knowledge, yet I had no intention of renewing my contract – which came to an end in September. TalkTalk has renewed my contract without my consent, or offering me the chance to accept or reject its terms.VB, London.

A | TalkTalk is insistent that it has done nothing wrong. A spokesman said: “We are sorry if the details of [the reader’s] package were not clear. We have written to her to explain the charges on her bill in more detail. As she is still receiving a service from TalkTalk, she will continue to be charged.”

However, the legal situation seems less clear. We consulted the regulator, Ofcom. Its spokeswoman said: “Ofcom has indeed banned ‘automatically renewable contracts’, which previously served to tie landline and broadband customers into repeated minimum contract periods. … If customers feel they have been subjected to an ARC and have exhausted TalkTalk’s complaints process, then we would encourage them to exercise their right to take the matter to dispute resolution.”

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