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Get a rebate on your sewerage rates charges

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  • David_B_Ball
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    I pressed my complaint with the following amail and got it all back.

    11 May 07

    'Thank you for your letter regarding the Surface Water Drainage rebate for my house.

    I would like to make it clear that I am not unhappy with the fact that the rebate has been applied from July 2006, but I was unhappy that my requests for the rebate application form did not result in the form being seen here, and that it takes 2 emails to elicit a human reply from Thames Water. This comes after my original request for water meter was lost in the Thames Water administrative system and I had to re-apply. It was only the fact that I intimated that I would complain that precipitated the rebate being awarded. That is what I am unhappy about!

    It may be that this is a deliberate policy to dissuade people from pressing their application for a rebate; I would like to think not.

    My case for having the rebate backdated to 1 Apr 00 is based on the fact that even though I had not made the rebate claim on paper (because the form never arrived), Thames Water admitted on the telephone, and by implication (because the rebate was awarded without my evidence being provided), that the fact that I was due a rebate was well known to Thames Water!

    My case is clear, Thames water knew I was due a rebate but never awarded it and chose to continue to charge me for a service that Thames Water knew I was not receiving i.e. surface water drainage between 1 Apr 00 and 2007 when my original enquiry was made.

    It would not be a great step to make the connection that Thames Water is knowingly charging many unwitting customers for a service they are not receiving, thereby swelling the profits of the company and the director's bonuses.

    This is my position.

    Would you please credit my account with the rebate due as soon as possible?

    If I do not receive confirmation of rebate from you in 7 days I will take further steps to recover the rebate for the period 1 Apr 00 to Jul 06.'

    I had a call from customer services last week and they confirmed that a backdated rebate would apper on my next bill.

    David Ball
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,042 Forumite
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    That is excellent.

    One note of caution is that you haven't yet got it back!

    When you do it would be great if Martin could bring this to the attention of everyone in his newsletter along the lines of the refund for Bank Charges.

    If a precedent is set it will be difficult to refuse other claims.
  • Crabman
    Crabman Posts: 9,943 Forumite
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    I tried to apply but was told I'd need a surveyor to say where our drain goes - the house is a 1980's and I guess it goes to a soakaway but I can't be sure. Severn Trent were sure it went into their sewers though and wanted a full sketch of the soakaway etc. :confused:

    It would help if there was a guide to this effect :D
  • David_B_Ball
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    Cardew,

    This is the letter I got from Thames.

    Thames Water
    Customer Relations
    Customer Services
    P.O. Box 436
    Swindon
    SN38 1TU
    Telephone: 08457 200897
    Fax: 01793 424291
    E-mail: Customer.Feedback@thameswater.co.uk
    16 July 2007
    Our Ref: 380161
    Surface water drainage rebate

    Dear Mr Ball
    Thank you for your e-mail of 9 July 2007 addressed to my colleague who is currently out of the office and I am therefore replying on her behalf.
    I can confirm that the surface water drainage charges of £99.37 for the period 1 April 2000 to 4 July 2006 have been credited to your account. This will show on the next statement you receive from us.
    I can confirm that the surface water drainage charges for the period 4 July
    2006 onwards have been
    removed. This was confirmed in the bill dated 12 April 2007.
    I trust this concludes the matter.

    And I hope it does.

    DBB
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,042 Forumite
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    Great,
    That is the first case I have ever heard of. I have brought it to the attention of Martin(I hope) - well I sent feedback.
  • lancasterchelsea
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    well done David Ball and Cardew
    I hope to repeat your success with United utilities and claim back to april 2000
    will post the result
    this must affect almost all old country properties because mains sewage didn't exist..... there must be a way of tracing main sewage supply dates and the age of buildings....... Martin should make an issue of surface water charges
  • Sleepy_Panda
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    You may be interested to know that companies are allowed to charge for this service even where a connection does not exist (shocking I know :( ). It has been tested in Court (Yorkshire Water v Mr John Hall) and the company won.

    All companies are supposed to provide information on the rebate in their billing literature, so that apparently excuses them from being more proactive.

    And lastly, yes if you are in a flat on the ground floor, you still have to pay this charge. You are deemed as benefitting from the SWD of the building as a whole.

    Here's what Ofwat has to say:

    http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/aptrix/ofwat/publish.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/surface_water_drain.doc/$FILE/surface_water_drain.doc

    Note that the regulator has decided that rebates will not be retrospective.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,042 Forumite
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    Here's what Ofwat has to say:

    http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/aptrix/ofwat/publish.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/surface_water_drain.doc/$FILE/surface_water_drain.doc

    Note that the regulator has decided that rebates will not be retrospective.
    The refusal of water companies to backdate rebates has been written about many times, including by several people on this forum.

    Indeed the logic for not backdating in the ofwat publication seems perfectly sound to me; albeit the whole way the charge is applied is a nonsense.

    However being pedantic the Regulator has not "decided that the rebates will not be retrospective”. ofwat has stated “There is no legal obligation for companies to backdate any rebate of charges beyond the current charging year.”

    That of course does not prevent companies from giving retrospective rebates as David Ball post seems to confirm. It may well be that Thames Water simply decided that for less than £100 it is simply not worth ‘fighting’ him! However they might have set a precedent.
  • lancasterchelsea
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    Got letter today from United Utilities..... "they haven't a deliberate policy of not informing customers"....... they spend a fortune on telling us how wonderful they are and nothing telling us we are being ripped off. I wonder why. "In line with charges scheme... approved by regulaor"... Ofwat is the most puny organisation the government could get away with..... as feeble as possible.
    "we print messages on our leaflets".... I'll bet almost no-one knows they are being overcharged. I didn't for 26 years... am I the exception.
    Next steps.... phone Offwhat..... I need the court case details where Yorkshire Water won (Yorkshire Water v Mr John Hall).... I could just go down the lba/mcol route like bank charge claims.....
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,042 Forumite
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    lancasterchelsea,

    Good luck.

    Keep us informed please.
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