Abnormally high water bill - Thames Water.

rama0927
rama0927 Posts: 65
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edited 2 July 2020 at 4:07PM in Water bills
I have received an abnormally high water bill from Thames Water.  It is a 1 bed rented flat, 2 occupants, we are pretty careful with water and even have one of their water saving shower heads (as I do like a freebie of course). We only take showers and do 2 loads of laundry per week. CCW water calculator estimates we would use 59m3 per year,

Bills (all have matching serial number):
Initial (Estimate) June 2018 - date I moved in: 280
Read 1 (Actual) Dec 2018: 380, difference 100m3 - for 172 days usage (0.581m3 per day) Very high
Read 2 (Actual) Jun 2019: 401, difference 21m3 - for 184 days usage (0.114m3 per day) low
Read 3 (Actual) Dec 2019: 422, difference 21m3 - for 183 days usage (0.115m3 per day) low
Read 4 (Actual) Jun 2020: 561, difference 139m3 - for 173 days usage (
0.803m3 per day) Very high
2 year total usage (~19 days less than 2 years actually): 281m3

This does not sound reasonable to me. Over 2 years I would have expected approx 118m3 of water, based on the CCW estimates. Or going by Thames Water's guide, 2 people should use between 65-116m3 per year. 

I do not have access to the water meter, it is outside the building at street level somewhere so I have personally never read the meter myself. Something is very fishy about TW's "actual readings", based on them being so accurately spaced apart date wise, and those two readings in the middle being identical... I am starting to think they have actually never taken a reading until the very latest one. 

I have contacted Thames Water, they claim the readings are actuals. They are unable to send anyone out to investigate the meter or leak, they claim due to Government guidelines... yet someone apparently read my meeting 2 weeks ago according to the bill. I am quite sceptical of their excuse for not being to send out someone to take a look, seeing as other trades are able to work.

The bill was due today, I have partially paid it (10%) by credit card to avoid any non payment or credit mark going on my file for non payment. TW said that would be OK, but would not extend the date and said I need to wait for their investigation which could take any amount of unknown time.

In my position, what would you do next? Shall I just wait for their investigation and pay off the bill bit by bit in the meantime?
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Comments

  • Talldave
    Talldave Posts: 2,002
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    You should have read the meter when you moved in - you start with an estimate,  which is insane. You should have had the meter pointed out to you at check in. 
    You need to find the meter asap - there's no other way to confirm if these readings are genuine. If they are, it looks like you've gained a leak in the last 6 months (toilet cistern overflowing? ). Again, when you find the meter, you can check.

    At the previous property we rented,  I eventually found the meter on the verge overgrown with grass, and had to cut away grass to open the lid. You have to turn detective and work out where it is - outside, inside in a utilities cupboard or in your flat. It's unlikely to be the last one if it is being read without access to the flat.
  • rama0927
    rama0927 Posts: 65
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    Hi Talldave thanks for the advice. You are correct that it is insane that I did not have the read when I moved in. I do feel terrible about it, it is because in my previous flat there was a different arrangement about water and it wasn't metered.

    Anyway I turned detective and I did locate my meter, the one that matches my bills that is. I should have done this earlier and I realise that it is stupid of me, but it is what it is.

    I took a read today of 565. The differential since the last read which was 22 days ago is ~4 units. Therefore that works out roughly as ~0.182m3 per day usage since my last bill. 
  • Talldave
    Talldave Posts: 2,002
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    Excellent progress. Without wanting to sound pedantic, are you sure that meter feeds your property?  A quick tap test will confirm - tap on, spinny disc on meter whizzes around, tap off, spinny disc stops.

    If it is your meter, it looks like consumption is normal over the last three weeks. But maybe it's worth a weekly or fortnightly read just to see if the consumption leaps up towards 1m3 a day again. 

    As for the moving in estimate,  I can't see a way out of that. It's going to be an expensive mistake to put down to experience. In future, ollow the meter photographing strategy on move-ins, move-outs and supplier switches (gas/electricity) and you'll be fine. Never let anyone read a meter for you!
  • freesha
    freesha Posts: 337
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    "They are unable to send anyone out to investigate the meter or leak, they claim due to Government guidelines..."

    This is complete nonsense, especially seeing as your meter is external. Water companies can, and are, coming out to look at meters during the pandemic
  • rama0927
    rama0927 Posts: 65
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    Talldave said:
    Excellent progress. Without wanting to sound pedantic, are you sure that meter feeds your property?  A quick tap test will confirm - tap on, spinny disc on meter whizzes around, tap off, spinny disc stops.

    If it is your meter, it looks like consumption is normal over the last three weeks. But maybe it's worth a weekly or fortnightly read just to see if the consumption leaps up towards 1m3 a day again. 

    As for the moving in estimate,  I can't see a way out of that. It's going to be an expensive mistake to put down to experience. In future, ollow the meter photographing strategy on move-ins, move-outs and supplier switches (gas/electricity) and you'll be fine. Never let anyone read a meter for you!
    Cheers, I'm pretty sure it is! However you are right, I will try to check out the activity with tap on/off. It is quite difficult to read it as underneath the polystyrene protector the meter is submerged in water, so I may need to invest in a sponge to drain it out if I can't tell properly. And yep I was planning to give it a read every 1-2 weeks until Thames Water have the decency to deal with me.

    I will endeavour to update this post as time goes on, with whatever the conclusion is!
  • RobM99
    RobM99 Posts: 2,485
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    "A quick tap test will confirm - tap on, spinny disc on meter whizzes around, tap off, spinny disc stops."

    Crikey, don't get too technical!    :D
    Now a gainfully employed bassist.
  • Grumpy_chap
    Grumpy_chap Posts: 14,354
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    Have you ever actually read the meter yourself?  You need to check that it is currently something near to 561.

    Based on 150 litre/person/day (quite high), each person would use 55m3/year, so 110m3/year for the 2 of you.  This matches the top-end of the Thames Water guide.  220m3 in 2 years tops.  The billed amount at 281m3 for 2 years seems high.
  • Talldave
    Talldave Posts: 2,002
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    RobM99 said:
    "A quick tap test will confirm - tap on, spinny disc on meter whizzes around, tap off, spinny disc stops."

    Crikey, don't get too technical!    :D

    Nutating disc doesn't sound as much fun does it?!
  • They are talking guff.
    I had an abnormally high meter reading myself last week (100m2 for 6 months compared to the usual 40 ish).
    The same day contractors turned up and started digging around my meter, I called south east water and enquired, sounds like whoever read the meter spotted a leak and reported it. It was finished the next day and now they are going to provide a leakage allowance credit to my account.

    You really need to find you meter!
  • rama0927
    rama0927 Posts: 65
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    edited 17 September 2020 at 4:42PM
    I promised to update this post and I am doing so true to my word!
    As above I did locate the meter in the end, and took a reading. I then took a differential read, and the usage seemed correct when doing a differential read. TW came out to check the meter just incase, they confirmed the meter is the correct one and no leaks doing the tap on tap off simple test as described by Talldave.

    TW finally investigated the previous tenant's closing reading and the start reading I was given, they were both estimated reads. So I got off on the wrong footing there. I believe there were some dodgy estimates in the middle then it all caught up with me again when I submitted actual reads.

    TW were kind enough to take the most recent actual reads and then back calculate to the start, since they understood my position of not realising it was a metered property at the start. I have been refunded £180 odd and I am please with the outcome, despite the trials and tribulations along the way. I also received some kind of cash compensation for them not responding to a written letter I submitted. I will check the calculated refund it in more detail, however it sounds about right and consider this a case closed.
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