Npower faces criminal charges over promotion

Utility giant npower faces prosecution for misleading consumers into signing up to a price-freeze promotion that actually increased their bills by five per cent.

Last year the company, which is owned by German utility company RWE, ran a campaign urging customers to: “Freeze your energy prices. Act now to avoid price increases.”

However, the price freeze was intended only for npower customers and not for customers of its newly acquired subsidiary Northern Electric & Gas.

Npower failed to point out the fact on its leaflets, following which the Middlesbrough Borough Council’s trading standards department carried out an investigation.

The matter was taken to Teesside Magistrates Court, but the magistrates ruled that their sentencing powers – a maximum of &£5,000 fine – are insufficient and have referred the case to Crown Court for trial at a later date.

This is not the first time that npower has got into serious trouble for its marketing techniques. Energy regulator Ofgem has issued several warnings over mis-selling gas and electricity (MW October 4, 2001).

A spokeswoman for npower says: “We accept we made a mistake by not adding into our printed materials all the information that was explained on the telephone to customers wishing to sign up, but all our marketing was carried out in good faith.

“We have reinforced the checks and balances in our campaign procedures to help ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Npower acquired Northern Electric & Gas in August 2001.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here