Thames Water - Inability to provide me with a bill in advance

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
3 replies 1.8K views
KR1_2KR1_2 Forumite
5 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Water Bills
OK, bit of a long story here, but please bear with me and I will explain as clearly as I can!

Nov 08 - I applied to have a water meter fitted. Thames Water visited the property and informed me that they couldn't fit a meter. (I live in a maisonette and there isn't a separate supply pipe to my property and the one upstairs)
I was therefore told that I would be placed on the Assessed Charge.

At this time I was paying an Unmetered Charge of £198 / year.
The Assessed Charge for my property was £203 (I think) / year.
I therefore requested to stay on the Unmetered Charge as it was cheaper - only a few pounds a year, so it doesn't make a huge difference, but it was cheaper none the less. I therefore stayed on the Unmetered Charge.

Fast forward a few months and I see on the Thames Water website that some new bands will be introduced for the Assessed Charge from 1st April 09.
One of the bands is a 'single occupier' band of £165 / year.
I live alone in a 1 bedroom property and therefore would fall under this category on the Assessed Charge.

I phoned Thames Water on 19th Feb to request that I be transferred to the single occupier Assessed Charge from 1st April when that new band is introduced. I was told that this would be actioned and that I would shortly recieve a new bill detailing the charge of £165 and how this would be split over the months that I pay (paid by Direct Debit)

Bill never arrived but I did recieve one for the higher Unmetered Charge. I phoned to query this and was told that there had been a crossover in the post, and to disregard the Unmetered Charge bill and that a new Assessed Charge bill would be with me within a week.

The new Assessed Charge bill still didn't arrive, so I again rang to find out where it was. I was then told that I would not be getting this bill until after the 1st April as the new charge did not come into force until that date.
I was told that no bill could be sent as the new charging bands did not take effect until the 1st April, and therefore the computer system was not set up to produce a bill.

Whilst I understand completely that the new charge does not apply until 1st April I find it incredible that Thames Water cannot produce a bill - in advance - for the amount that I will be paying.

I am, and have at no point requested that the new charges be applied before the 1st April - I just want a bill IN ADVANCE, showing me what I will be paying from that date onwards. Surely this is no different to them providing me with a new Unmetered Charge bill for a higher amount than the year before - if this bill can be sent in advance then why not the bill for the Assessed charge that I will be paying?

So now as I see it, Thames Water will be breaking my Direct Debit Agreement by not informing me / agreeing with me in advance of the amount that they will be taking from my bank account on 1st April

Their non-existant customer service has been next to useless, despite several attempts to explain the situation and request details of what my payments will be, and it's now 4 weeks since I raised this issue with them. They also have failed to respond to my e-mailed complaint, though I think they state that they have upto 10 days to respond, so still have 3 days left!

Sorry this is so long and thank you if you have made it this far and are still reading! My questions are:
1. Can Thames jsut take any amount they like from my bank account on 1st April, despite the fact they have not agreed any amount with me?
2. What can I do to resolve this before the direct debit payment date of 1st April (just 2 weeks away)
3. Why was such a company allowed to introduce a new charging band without having the computer systems in place to produce an advance bill (again I reiterate that I only expect to be on the new tarriff from 1st April, I just want that detailed on a bill before payments start!)
4. Is this a matter that the Consumer Council for Water would investigate?

Thanks for any responses,

KR

Replies

  • CardewCardew Forumite
    28.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Rampant Recycler
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    If you sign a Direct Debit mandate with any company, you agree that they can take out any amount, as long as they notify you in advance if they change the amount.

    For instance I along with millions of others am on a meter. I have no idea how much water I will use, and hence the size of the bill; and neither have my water company.

    As they cannot tell me in advance what my bill will be, they tell me that I am to pay £xx monthly by DD. The point being that a DD is not tied to the amount of the annual bill so they are certainly not breaking any DD agreement with you.

    Presumably if you pay for your electricity/gas by DD you don't expect them to bill you in advance for the year?

    I can agree to this, or cancel my DD agreement and they will send me a bill in due course which I will have to pay in advance.

    You have exactly the same choice.

    With respect, given the very real problems people get with water companies, I hardly think that not having a bill for 2009/10 produced to you by mid March is anything to worry about, let alone the Consumer Council.

    If it bothers you, just cancel your DD and wait until you get the bill and then restart the DD.

    P.S.
    I often wonder what would happen if those paying the single charge had a partner with 7 children move in!!!!!

    PPS you can delete the duplicate thread by going to edit and then delete.
  • KR1_2KR1_2 Forumite
    5 Posts
    "Presumably if you pay for your electricity/gas by DD you don't expect them to bill you in advance for the year?"

    No I don't - but I am billed for those utilities based on what I use, whereas this is not the case for the water, I should be being billed on a fixed amount beacuse a meter can't be fitted.
    Therefore I still don't understand why I can't be given a bill and payment plan in advance of the payments beginning, same as I am for Council Tax, TV licence, home insurance etc.

    "P.S.
    I often wonder what would happen if those paying the single charge had a partner with 7 children move in!!!!!"
    I have no idea, that does not apply to me - should I suddenly find a partner and 7 children moving in then I will be sure to notify Thames Water! I presume they can run checks to disprove anyone they suspect of lying about living on their own to recieve a cheaper tarriff!

    Sorry about the double post, I don't know how I managed that! I clicked on edit in the duplicate post but still can't find a delete option...
  • Hi, having read your matter I can advise you the following. Under Water Industry Act 1991, the water companies need to bill all customers on 1st April every year. The company, in theory, is able to recover all charges for the year. However, since this is imposing unneccesary burden on customers, they have a series of payment plans available so that the customers can pay in installments. Contact Thames Water for more details. If you are unhappy, contact Ofwat and Consumer Council for Water for advice and support.

    Cheers!
    I used to be part of the water industry. If you need any advice, feel free to ask me :A
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