Huge water bill from 2008! Advice needed.

in Water bills
7 replies 2.8K views
Hi and thanks in advance for any and all advice.

The story is, I have been helping my mum to clean up her finances, and to my horror found out she has a water bill with Anglia Water for the amount of £1803. She says she was aware of the bill (which creeped up in 2008!!) and is adamant it is an error (which would make sense as just me, my mum and brother live in the house) but was scared to chase it up in case she was forced to pay immediately (Silly I know!).

Some info: 3 person house
No dishwasher
Washing machine
No outdoor tap
No known leaks

I contacted Anglia water and requested a copy of all past bills and turned up that between:
09/07-03/08 there was a reading of 271 units used
03/08-09/08 a reading of 31 units
09/08-03/10 a huge reading of 441 units used! At the end of 03/10 they fitted a new meter (but no mention of whether it was faulty or not) and from the fitting of the new meter in 03/10 to present, we have averaged around 50 units per 6 month bill.

My mum says she called up a few years ago to see what was happening, the agent she spoke with agreed that they were very unusual reading, but nothing much came after this.

My question is, where does my mum stand in regards to this bill spanning back from 2008? I have compiled all reading since 09/07 and she is going to call Anglia Water on monday. My worry is that given the time that has passed, there is nothing that she can do.

Thanks again and apologies for the long post :)


  • CardewCardew Forumite
    28.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Rampant Recycler
    If the bill is valid, they can go back 6 years.

    Are you saying that the bill dates from 2008 or 2010?

    What is unclear from your post is why Anglia haven't 'chased' the £1803 bill with a Debt Collection Agency if it dates back several years.

    We really need some further explanation of the billing sequence and what your mother has been paying.
  • Cafm1992Cafm1992 Forumite
    12 Posts
    Sorry if my formatting is a little off, I'll try and be more clear and give more info. Sorry in advance for a huge post.

    As for why they have not 'chased' the bill I am unsure, asides from Mum contacting them about the huge bill in the first place there has been no communication. The monthly payments have risen from £26.19pm on 26/03/08 to £40.76pm on 21/03/14 and the bill has stalled around £1800 since 26/09/08

    The earliest bill that Anglia water resent was for the account date April 22nd 2008 period between, 04/10/07-22/04/08:
    Balance of the previous bill £337.53 (strikes me as a little to high, perhaps problems started from the bill before which unfortunately has not been sent out)
    7*monthly direct debit payments of £26.19 = £183.33.
    Balance brought forward as of account date £154.20
    Previous meter reading(read): 1164. Present meter reading(read): 1469
    Units used 305
    Supply cost: £366.46
    Sewerage cost:£381.28
    Taking the bill amount then up to £901.94

    The next bill date account date 26 Sep 2008, (23/04/08-26/09/08)
    Previous bill: £901.94
    5*DD [email protected]£27.97=£139.85
    Balance brought forward: £762.09
    Previous reading : 1469. Present reading: 1883
    Units used: 414
    Supply cost: £511.41
    Sewerage cost: £522.56
    Bill amount £1796.06

    After this the readings seem to become normal,
    Account date 26 Mar 2009, (27/09/08-26/03/09)
    Previous bill £1796.06
    6*DD [email protected]£27.97=£167.82
    Balance brought forward: £1628.24
    Previous reading: 1883. Present reading 1948
    Units used: 65
    Supply cost: £91.42
    Sewerage cost £112.88
    Bill amount £1832.54

    Account date 30 sep 2009, (27/03/09-29/09/09)
    During this bill period the meter was changed on 05/07/09
    Previous bill £1832.56
    6*DD [email protected]£29.87
    balance brought forward: 1653.32
    Old meter: 27/03/09-05/07/09
    Units used: 32
    New Meter: 06/07/09-29/09/09
    Units used: 28
    Total units:60
    Supply cost: £77.09
    Sewerage cost:£13.81

    And from here on out we have a stable amount of usage, averaging 50-60 units per bill. Ill put up all bills I received and hopefully its a little easier on the eyes.
    Italics= Old meter
    Bold= New meter
    All= New meter fitted period.

    04/10/07-22/04/08, 7*[email protected]£26.19, units 305, bill £907.94
    23/04/08-26/09/08, 5*[email protected]£27.97, units 414, bill £1796.06
    27/08/08-26/03/09, 6*[email protected]£27.97, units 65, bill £1832.54

    27/03/09-29/09/09, 6*[email protected]£29.87, units 60, bill £1859.35
    30/09/09-18/03/10, 6*[email protected]£29.87, units 56, bill £1871.40
    19/03/10-22/09/10, 6*[email protected]£31.90, units 67, bill £1903.50
    23/09/10-18/03/11, 6*[email protected]£31.90, units 54, bill £1899.31
    19/03/11-27/09/11, 6*[email protected]£34.07, units 50, bill £1886.26
    28/09/11-16/03/12, 6*[email protected]£34.07, units 37, bill £1832.17
    17/03/12-13/09/12, 5*[email protected]£36.39, units 53, bill £1856.93
    14/09/12-21/03/13, 6*[email protected]£38.86, units 49, bill £1822.33
    22/03/13-20/09/13, 6*[email protected]£38.86, units 61, bill £1823.78
    21/09/13-21/03/14, 6*[email protected]£40.76, units 54, bill £1805.03

    All the reading were read and all I can think is that the old meter was faulty. My mum vaguely remembers the water board trying to source a leak in the street at one point, but cannot remember if it affected us at all.

    In the 5 years from when the new meter was fitted to yesterday we had used 534 units, so how 414 units in 5 months went unnoticed by Anglia water is beyond me. I just wish my mother had sorted this out at the time!

    Thanks again for any help.
  • edited 18 May 2014 at 8:45PM
    CardewCardew Forumite
    28.9K Posts
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    edited 18 May 2014 at 8:45PM
    so how 414 units in 5 months went unnoticed by Anglia water is beyond me.
    Presumably because the bill is simply generated by a computer and 'untouched by human hand' unless the customer complains.

    The 305 and 441 cubic metres used in consecutive 6 month periods can only be explained by a faulty meter or a leak 'your side' of the meter.

    However subsequent consumption of 65 cubic meters in a 6 month period is difficult to explain - leaks don't cure themselves.

    In the 6 months period when the meter was exchanged, the pro-rata consumption was roughly the same; 32 units in 100 days on old meter, and 28 units in 86 days on the new meter, which seems to rule out the old meter being faulty.

    A possible explanation is that prior to September 2008 there was a common water mains and your mother's meter was recording consumption in other properties - this sometimes happened with older terraced houses and flats.

    Either way it is inexplicable that Anglia Water haven't pursued the £1,800 bill for 6 years. The normal procedure is to increase the DD to pay off the 'debt'.

    I suggest you write a letter to Anglian headed 'Complaint' and detail your concerns.

    If a solution cannot be reached, you should contact The Consumer Council for Water and seek their assistance.
  • Cafm1992Cafm1992 Forumite
    12 Posts
    Thanks Cardew.

    I am going to give them a call this evening after work, see what they can tell me over the phone and then failing that go down the complaints/consumer council route. Hopefully it's not going to be too much of battle to sort out.
  • edited 20 May 2014 at 12:47PM
    Cafm1992Cafm1992 Forumite
    12 Posts
    edited 20 May 2014 at 12:47PM
    I spoke with Anglian Water yesterday and this is what I have learned from their records and the likes.

    • Upon issue of huge bill, mum queried, they requested a leak and flow test.
    • Mum remembers posting results
    • Anglia water never received post
    • Mum doesn't hear back from Anglia Water at all
    • Anglia water doesn't chase results of test or for info of the huge bill and to arrange repayment. (If they had, this issue would have definitely been resolved)
    • I have learned just today, from the council, that we had a constantly flushing toilet and leaking tap underneath sink during this period, which the council fixed for us on 02/06/08. (Admittedly may not have been reported as soon as possible)
    • Anglia water will only allow for leakage allowance up to 12 months following receipt of bill.
    Mum is going to call up again with proof of a leak today and then move it onto complaints and the consumer council, the agent we spoke with said we could take it as high as possible, but its very unlikely that we will have the bill eased at all.

    Although I know that Mum should have chased up as well, I cant help but feel that had Anglia water chased the bill of almost £2000, this problem could of been cleaned up 5+ years ago

    Mum now worries that as she has raised the issue of the bill that they are now going to be hot on her tail for the money back.
  • CardewCardew Forumite
    28.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Rampant Recycler
    Mum doesn't here back

    4th bullet point??

    Good luck with CC - I think you should have a good chance of getting a big reduction, despite your mother's 'head in sand'.
  • Cafm1992Cafm1992 Forumite
    12 Posts
    Just a quick update on the whole situation. Luckily we did not even have to contact the consumer council.

    After we realised that we did in fact have a leak and that that would have been the reason for the huge spike in water consumption. Mum called up Anglia Water again on the 21/05/14 and after a lengthy explanation of the situation and how the leak went unnoticed, was put through to customer satisfaction and told that she would be able to receive a one-off leak 100% leak allowance for the 12 month period in which the leak occurred.

    They then got back to us 1 week later and gave a leak allowance of £1469.27, we received our most recent bill the other day and now owe, a much more easy on the eyes, £254!

    So thanks for your help Cardew, it has been much appreciated.
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