Faulty water meter; What should I do? Will I be given estimated bills or refunded?
Having recently received 2 estimated water bills over the last year, I thought it would be a good idea to read my own meter as I suspected I was being slightly over charged. However I found that my meter no longer records any water usage and is on exactly the same reading as it was over 1 year ago. I am concerned that this will result in me receiving a large surprise bill based on estimated usage for the period the meter was not working when they eventually come for an actual meter reading and realise its broken. However, I am aware that the maintenance and reading of the meter is their responsibility as per Welsh waters T & C's so I'm not sure if they have any legitimate way of estimating my usage and subsequently billing me. Below are my previous readings and I have annotated this with when I believe the meter stopped working.
0998 Initial customer reading 01/04/21
1001 Welsh water reading 19/04/21
1034 Estimate 01/11/21
I think the meter broke some time between the 2 actual readings on 19/04/21 and 06/04/22
1037 Welsh water reading 06/04/22
1058 Estimate 28/10/22
1080 Estimate 14/04/23
1037 current meter reading (I have not submitted this yet) 03/05/23
As you can see, since the last actual reading on 06/04/22 there has been no water used in over 1 year according to the meter but I have received 2 fairly normal (albeit slightly higher than usual) estimated bills. As far as I can tell I am under no obligation to communicate this to Welsh water as they do not require customers to read their own meters and the maintenance and reading of the meter is their responsibility. They say they will attempt to read my meter every 6 months but it has already been over a year since the last actual reading which would have alerted them to this problem). I suspect I may be entitled to a pretty large refund when they next come to read my meter as it will have recorded 0 usage and I have already paid quite a lot in estimated bills.
I have looked at the Welsh water and Ofwat website and there's no advice on what Welsh water or I am required to do in this situation. I could submit a customer reading or call them to alert them to this issue but I may be loosing out on what is essentially free water (aside from the standing charges). Obviously ethically this isn't ideal for me as I know there is an issue with the meter but I feel like its their fault for failing to maintain their equipment and come out and read it as they promise their customers they will. Had I not checked the meter I would be none the wiser and could just wait until they come out to take a genuine reading and realise the meter is broken. If Welsh water try to give me an estimated bill due to their failure to read and maintain the meter I think I should be entitled to raise a complaint with the regulator Ofwat as I am not to blame and they have no idea how much water I have used during this period to calculate my bill. On a side note Welsh water have repeatedly dumped raw sewage into local rivers and beaches (Welsh rivers had 100,000 sewage spills in a year - BBC News) which has effected me, family and friends directly and has significantly damaged any good will I previously had towards the company.
Ordinarily I am a very honest and ethical person but I am pretty annoyed that they have failed to read/maintain my meter and think they probably deserve the consequences of failing to provide the service they promise (as well as dumping raw sewage, however much of a government policy/regulatory issue that may be). If anyone has any information on what generally happens in these situations or if I have any legal requirements to tell them about the meter that would be much appreciated? As ethically dubious as this is, I'm sure they would have no issues with over charging me were the shoe on the other foot and they could get away with it.
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