What are my options for challenging an apparent error with the water bill readings?

My water meter bill was recently replaced. The water company took the final final meter reading and charged me a massive extra amount based on that reading, because I was paying based on estimated usage for the past 2 years or so, because we have not had an actual reading during this time.

The reason why I think that final meter reading looks wrong is because that final meter reading would suggest a usage rate that is about 3 times my actual usage (based on prior actual readings). Alternatively, there may have been a leak, but not within my property. The water company have provided a photo for the final meter reading, but it's quite blurry.

I have already challenged it with the water company, but they said they feel the photo is clear enough to stand by the reading they have interpreted.


  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,663
    First Post First Anniversary Photogenic Name Dropper
    I don't think you have much chance of challenging it, to be honest.
    The meter reading is what it is. You didn't take a reading for two years, and (in most cases) any leak after the meter is your responsibility.
    Make sure you read the meter more regularly so you can keep better track of your consumption. If you do have a leak, it will still be there.
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 3.6kw inverter. 30MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
    Ofgem cap table, Ofgem cap explainer. Economy 7 cap explainer. Gas vs E7 vs peak elec heating costs.
  • I had a similar experience a few months ago when Thames Water replaced my old dumb water meter with a new smart water meter.  The final reading of the dumb meter was massively higher than expected (over 1300m3 used for 2022/23 compared with 260m3 prior to 2019) and in fact when looking back at prior bills I could see a pattern of rising usage after 2019 when my actual usage would have been lower due to 1 or 2 children away at Uni.

    I made a complaint that the old meter was giving faulty readings - I estimated that the dumb water meter was installed over 30 years ago (divide the reading by estimated annual consumption) and I believe it only has a certification period of 25 years so I think it was end of life and giving inflated readings.

    My outcome is that TW recalculated the past four years of usage using an average usage from before 2019 when I believe it was reading accurately as there was very similar usage each year until 2019 onwards.  This resulted in a repayment of £2400 to me rather than me paying them a bill of £4K for the phantom water usage.

    If you think the water meter is faulty then you need to complain and it would help if you can show much lower usage for prior years.  My original thread is here:

  • If you can't show prior years (because you didn't take readings) then you can try to use the period since the new meter was installed. Obviously this can be seen as less reliable as you can manipulate your usage, but if it does match what previous data there is then it can make a strong argument that there was a problem. 
    I'm not an early bird or a night owl; I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon.
  • matelodave
    matelodave Posts: 8,573
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Photogenic First Post
    edited 5 November 2023 at 12:36PM
    If you had a meter, why were you accepting estimated bills ? It's not difficult to check your meter against the readings on the bills and get them revised. As you have found out it's really difficult to sort out a couple of years down the line and even more so if the meters gets changed.

    As @brook_heather above, we discovered a major water leak by reading our water meter regularly and got it sorted out before the foundations were undermined and we got a refund on the bill.

    The same with Gas and Leccy, check your bills by reading the meter when they arrive, get then revised if they are using guesstimates and finally keep copies of them for several years. Ideally six, as that how long they have to send you revisions or or updates.
    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers
  • I will probably be taking a similar issue to my water supplier soon. Our water meter was recently replaced by a contractor who was repairing our supply line. There was a leak effectively at the meter, as the meter box was full of water. In the few months since then our metered usage has been ~2/3 of the previous, without any change in our water use habits. Either the leak was before the water meter and the old meter was not reading correctly, or the leak was at the meter but being recorded as 'usage'.

    We need a bit more data on our usage since the new meter was installed so we can do a meaningful comparison with the previous. However, when we do take this to our water company, I wonder how responsibility for a leak 'at' the meter will be apportioned. Before and after is clear enough; is a leak at the meter the water supplier's responsibility, given that the meter is their property? 
Meet your Ambassadors


  • All Categories
  • 341.8K Banking & Borrowing
  • 249.7K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449.2K Spending & Discounts
  • 233.9K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 606.1K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 172.5K Life & Family
  • 246.8K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.8K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards