Southern Water over charging

My account with Southern Water is £120 in credit - my direct debit needs to be reduced by £15 per month to stop a credit balance building up but SW will only reduce the DD by £5 so the interest free loan they are helping theirselves to will only increase - I haven't had any explanation for this, their 'customer service' drones just say "computer says no"

My questions
- Do the rules that make energy companies refund over payments also apply to water companies?
- Can I reclaim the overpaid amount via the direct debit guarantee ?

As far as I can tell it is not cheaper to pay by monthly DD so I think I will revert back to paying annually by cheque
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Comments

  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,036 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
    edited 19 July 2015 at 8:37PM
    You can revert back to paying every 6 months by cheque and it costs the same.. However bear in mind that you have to then pay in advance; so will lose more interest.

    It is also pertinent to point out that if you do pay by cheque, the cost of two second class stamps will be more than you will gain in interest.


    The Direct Debit Guarantee does not apply in your case as the company are taking what they have told you they intend to take each month. By signing the mandate you give them authority to vary the sum they take - as long as they tell you in advance. If you don't agree with the sum, revert to paying 6 monthly(in advance)
  • Dewpoint
    Dewpoint Posts: 144 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    I pay Southern Water by direct-debit, and I received my Jan-Sept 2015 statement just a few days ago. It showed a credit of £22.72 and an average daily water usage less than the previous bill, and yet they wanted to increase my direct-debit by 3.5 times the current amount.
    I telephoned them on their non-premium 0845 line (0330 303 0277) and questioned why they had increased the DD amount. All I got was a load of grovelling bull-sh^t from the guy I spoke to who tried to negotiate a compromise figure around twice what I was currently paying. When I confronted him with the figures from past bill which showed similar water consumption to the present figure; the fact that I was always in credit to SW and that my current average daily use was less than previous recent bills, he agreed to revert DD payments back to where they were.
    SW are trying it on. Either they are in financial trouble or they are trying to con elderly people like me into paying far too high a DD amount than is required. Luckily I keep past bills or I would have been unable to challenge their demands.
    In any case MSE should investigate. It stinks of corporate collusion.
  • JJ_Egan
    JJ_Egan Posts: 20,281 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Are you on a meter ??
    If the DD is to high and you have overpaid you get it back .
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,036 Forumite
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    Dewpoint wrote: »

    SW are trying it on. Either they are in financial trouble or they are trying to con elderly people like me into paying far too high a DD amount than is required..


    Without going into the apparently silly increase in your Direct Debit, your implication that SW are trying to increase Direct Debits to increase profits shows you are not aware of the financing structure of water companies.


    As said in the post above, if you overpay by DD you will build up a credit that will be refunded.


    However there is a more fundamental reason. Under The Water Act the Regulator(Ofwat) sets the level of revenue that any water company can raise; and this determines their profit. The level of revenue is a matter of public record and is published as part of a 5 year plan.
  • Dewpoint
    Dewpoint Posts: 144 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    edited 22 August 2015 at 8:37AM
    Yes - I'm on a meter. Getting the money back is not the point. They tried to make me pay more each month than I needed to - by over three times the current amount. Read what reported.
    To "get it back" you have to request it from SW. It doesn't get credited automatically.
  • Dewpoint
    Dewpoint Posts: 144 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    Yes - you can demand that the credit be repaid. I did it although they were reluctant at first, but I insisted - it's your money. SW will then calculate a new DD based on your current daily use. Telephone the number I listed above.
    I think the moral is to always check the Bill from SW, because in my experience they can't be trusted.
  • pearl123
    pearl123 Posts: 2,053 Forumite
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    I've just had the same problem. Direct debit was set far too high. It taken two telephone calls over two days it quite a battling conversation for me to get them to reduce it to a more realistic amount.
    It's plain greed.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,036 Forumite
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    pearl123 wrote: »
    I've just had the same problem. Direct debit was set far too high. It taken two telephone calls over two days it quite a battling conversation for me to get them to reduce it to a more realistic amount.
    It's plain greed.


    Have you not read the post above about profits for water companies?


    Their profit level is set by the Regulator and they cannot exceed that amount. So if they are making a pound or so extra in interest from you, then they must make less profit elsewhere.


    Have you determined why the DD was too high? Are you metered? If so, do they have a history of your consumption in your property?
  • pearl123
    pearl123 Posts: 2,053 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    Cardew wrote: »
    Have you not read the post above about profits for water companies?


    Their profit level is set by the Regulator and they cannot exceed that amount. So if they are making a pound or so extra in interest from you, then they must make less profit elsewhere.


    Have you determined why the DD was too high? Are you metered? If so, do they have a history of your consumption in your property?
    I am metered it was too high by about £15.00 per month.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,036 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
    pearl123 wrote: »
    I am metered it was too high by about £15.00 per month.


    So they obviously over-estimated your consumption, or you under-estimated future consumption. Albeit with the horrific charges for South West Water £15 is less than the cost of 3 cubic metres.


    As I asked above, did they have a history of your consumption in your current house on which to base their DD?
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