United Utilities - Pensioner Rip Off

edited 7 December 2015 at 1:39AM in Water Bills
1 reply 1.9K views
Salbal26Salbal26 Forumite
1 Post
edited 7 December 2015 at 1:39AM in Water Bills
Hi All,

Just wondering if anyone can advise on the following - I'll stick to the nuts and bolts to keep it shortish!!
My mother is now 71, and bordering on housebound. 4yrs ago she moved into a retirement block of flats, warden assisted etc. Most of the flats are one bed, like hers, with a handful of 2 bed. She had been living with my family for years prior to moving in there.
She settled in quickly and as usual was on top of her bills because her only income is state pension. It now transpires that the other residents pay about £22-26pcm to UUtilities. When mum heard this she was aghast as shes been charged £48-54pcm for the last 4yrs. Due to the nature/usage of the building they are unable to have water meters installed. UU insisted on sending a guy to confirm her residential status, and basically try his best at pushing for a water meter - all to no avail.
Prior to this they reduced her bill to £26, then, the aforementioned guy brought it down to £24.
Mum then rang UU to enquire how to get a rebate on the over charging - which she was told would be an easy process when she first rang up.
She was basically told, brace yourselves................ "its not company policy to give rebates" !!!! :rotfl:
Apparently they assume the onus to be on the customer to make sure their bill is correct.
I have followed the right channel and lodged a complaint with UU, but was hoping someone could confirm that they are cowboys trying it on. It can't be right, can it??
Otherwise I think mum will have to find a policy of her own!
Thanks for reading & for any input you can give.
Sal

Replies

  • edited 7 December 2015 at 12:49PM
    CardewCardew Forumite
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    edited 7 December 2015 at 12:49PM
    Welcome to the forum.

    If a meter cannot be fitted your mother will be entitled to an 'assessed charge' this charge is laid down in section 3 of this document and is currently £248.08 pa.

    http://www.unitedutilities.com/our-charges-2015-2016.aspx

    However in line with the OFWAT regulations to get an assessed charge you must formally apply for a meter to be fitted and UU state:
    If you live in a household property and you have applied to have a meter fitted free of charge
    I expect that is stated somewhere in the small print sent with the bills.

    So clearly your mother was not over-charged there is no entitlement to a rebate; however that doesn't preclude UU giving a rebate as a goodwill gesture.

    I would get your mother(or yourself) to contact the Consumer council for Water http://www.ccwater.org.uk/ (a phone call will suffice) and ask if they will take up the matter with UU.

    Explain that your mother was told on moving in that it was impossible to fit a meter and wasn't aware of the 'assessed charge' provision.

    As for UU being 'cowboys' you should be aware of how finance companies are financed. Under the Water Act the revenue and profit companies make is strictly controlled by the Regulator(OFWAT) and if your mother paid UU nothing or £1000 a month it would make no difference to UU's profit. If they gain, say, £1million a year from people failing to claim assessed charges then they adjust their charges so customers pay £1million less.
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