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Bizarre Billing from Southern Water

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richardcollins89richardcollins89 Forumite
2 posts
First Post
MoneySaving Newbie
In October 2019 I moved out of my two bedroom flat after selling it and moving to a house. I contacted Southern Water (SW) and had my account moved to the new property and then proceeded to think nothing more of it, assuming everything would now be in order.

This week I received a letter from a debt collection agency instructing me that I owed SW just over £1000. This was obviously quite surprise to me as I had not received any correspondence stating that I owe any money up until that point, despite SW having all my contact details. Additionally my normal water bills had been around the £40 mark up until that point and so I had initially assumed the £1000 figure had been added on by the debt collection agency.

I logged into my SW account to find that the £1000 figure was accurate. According to the bill, the £1000 figure was made up of  charges for things such as drainage, water waste and pipe maintenance charges. Looking at the bill it appears as though I have been charged in one lump some for all of these things for the entire 3 years I had lived at the address, despite regular direct debits appearing to have been taken. 

Then this morning I have received another letter from SW stating that my new address does not have an account set up for it and as such they will be turning the water off in 14 days. Again, I have logged into my SW account online where it shows that I have a direct debit set up for my new address. I am puzzled.

I have made contact with SW who have stated that they are unable to engage with me or provide me with any explanation or clarification as the matter has been passed to the debt collection agency. I have contacted the debt collection agency and asked them if they are able to obtain clarification but as of yet have not heard anything back.

My questions are this:
1) Is this common practice to 
2) Could I submit a Freedom of Information Request to SW in order to obtain clarification or at least get someone to check there has not been an error in the billing?

Any ideas or help would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance :)


Replies

  • richardcollins89richardcollins89 Forumite
    2 posts
    First Post
    MoneySaving Newbie
    Sorry for my lack of proof reading. The first question is supposed to read:
    1) Is this common practice to wait for a customer to move out before sending a bill such as this? 

    richardcollins89 said:
    My questions are this:
    1) Is this common practice to 
    2) Could I submit a Freedom of Information Request to SW in order to obtain clarification or at least get someone to check there has not been an error in the billing?

  • Robin9Robin9 Forumite
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    Is your house metered or is it the bill based on the Rateable Value ?  If the latter then £1000 is quite possible.
    Never pay on an estimated bill
  • Robin9Robin9 Forumite
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    Can you clarify please - is this account for your new property or your old one - you talk of 3 years but only been in your new house for 3 years.  If its your old flat I'm surprised you can still log into the account.
    Never pay on an estimated bill
  • TalldaveTalldave Forumite
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    Although I'm not sure I can give any advice on the situation,  your first paragraph rang alarm bells. When you move, you close the account at the old property and open a new account at the new one. I just wonder if your initial contact caused confusion and this is where things have gone wrong?
  • DawnCrushDawnCrush Forumite
    220 posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
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    In October 2019 I moved out of my two bedroom flat after selling it and moving to a house. I contacted Southern Water (SW) and had my account moved to the new property and then proceeded to think nothing more of it, assuming everything would now be in order.

    This week I received a letter from a debt collection agency instructing me that I owed SW just over £1000. This was obviously quite surprise to me as I had not received any correspondence stating that I owe any money up until that point, despite SW having all my contact details. Additionally my normal water bills had been around the £40 mark up until that point and so I had initially assumed the £1000 figure had been added on by the debt collection agency.

    I logged into my SW account to find that the £1000 figure was accurate. According to the bill, the £1000 figure was made up of  charges for things such as drainage, water waste and pipe maintenance charges. Looking at the bill it appears as though I have been charged in one lump some for all of these things for the entire 3 years I had lived at the address, despite regular direct debits appearing to have been taken. 

    Then this morning I have received another letter from SW stating that my new address does not have an account set up for it and as such they will be turning the water off in 14 days. Again, I have logged into my SW account online where it shows that I have a direct debit set up for my new address. I am puzzled.

    I have made contact with SW who have stated that they are unable to engage with me or provide me with any explanation or clarification as the matter has been passed to the debt collection agency. I have contacted the debt collection agency and asked them if they are able to obtain clarification but as of yet have not heard anything back.

    My questions are this:
    1) Is this common practice to 
    2) Could I submit a Freedom of Information Request to SW in order to obtain clarification or at least get someone to check there has not been an error in the billing?

    Any ideas or help would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance :)



    Bizarre indeed, if I understand you correctly and have never checked your bills, in particular to ensure your finla bill at your old address was settled and closed, and your new account at your ne waddress was correctly set up. In regards submitting a FoI request, you can certainly make one, but the chances it will (a) disclose any systematic billing errors by the supplier and/or (b) help you in any way with your issue over your account, is going to be very slim indeed. Perhaps you are confusing a FoI request with a SAR? But I'm not sure what you are hoping to achieve as you already admit that you have logged into your SW account to find that the £1000 figure was accurate.
  • Robin9Robin9 Forumite
    7K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
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    richardcollins89 - could you post a copy of the latest  bill from  SW for the present property and also the closing one for old one.

    I find it odd that SW will have involved debt collectors for a property that you only moved into only 6 months ago.
    Never pay on an estimated bill
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