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Npower receives shock from disabled customer


A disabled woman has won compensation after a major utility company, npower, insisted that she wasn’t capable of signing a contract.

Valerie Dexter, from Bedfordshire, decided to change her gas and electricity supplier when an npower sales rep called at her door. She signed the contract but was later shocked to find out that her next-door neighbour had been asked to countersign it, without her knowledge or permission. Valerie – who has a neurological impairment that causes her to shake – is in charge of all her financial affairs and contacted the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) which took up her case.

Npower insisted that it was their policy that all disabled and older people’s contracts are countersigned – a policy that was challenged by the DRC as discriminatory and unlawful.

Swindon County Court ordered Npower to pay £850 compensation for hurt feelings to Valerie Dexter and pay the DRC’s legal costs.

Bert Massie, Chair of the DRC says:’This case clearly shows that disabled people must not be treated as if they are unable to make decisions. Businesses need to realise that it is wrong to make sweeping judgements about who is or is not capable of managing their affairs – if they do they could face legal action.’

Valerie Dexter said, ‘I was appalled when I discovered that a contract containing my personal banking details had been shown to one of my neighbours without my knowledge or consent. The sales reps weren’t qualified to decide that I wasn’t capable of running my own affairs.

‘I have never received any form of apology from npower for treating me in such a degrading way. I am extremely pleased that the DRC have supported me in exposing the discriminatory way npower are treating older and disabled people.’

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