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Is The Law On My Side? Bill For Meter With Wrong Serial Number

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oracle39 | 16:57 Thu 08th May 2014 | Law
14 Answers
I moved into a new property May 2012 and informed it was on a water meter and was paying £50 per month. When the new bill arrived following Mar it said unmetered. I wrote and queried it, the response was meters were fitted but not active until Sept. After complaining in writing I was put on meter and credited £367 from their Customer relations manager .A new direct debit was set at £15.60. I queried how they came to such a low charge as I didn't want to get in debt and I asked for regular to reading to enable me to adjust the d/d and avoid debt, I sent copy to person who sent new bill and cr manager . New bill this year said I was in debt by £280 but as it was their fault because they had wrong serial no' as gesture of good will they would halve debt. I sent copies of previous letter and pointed out they set the d/d and I had asked for reviews to avoid this! Water co said they have no record of my querying d/d of £15.60 (how convenient). They sent new bills backdated showing bill with wrong serial no' then transferred outstanding to correct one. I am livid and I have asked for complaint to be escalated. In my opinion they ignored my request for reviews to avoid debt an I asked for it all to be waived as it was their fault which they admit. They say they couldn't do regular meter readings because they had the wrong serial number and they cant do them now but I can do myself. The difference in meter numbers is one ends in 6 the other ends in 9. But should I be made to pay when I did everything to try and avoid debt. They also have the hump with me because I wont talk to them on the phone. Everything I do is in writing & now also recorded delivery. Your legal advice would be appreciated. How can they assign a meter bill with the wrong number to me? They wanted me to pay £87 to cover this year's bill and the arrears, I have not agreed but have told them they can take £50 until the matter is resolved. They are now just passing me around managers who have condensed knowledge of problem. All concur it was their error.

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Ask the water company to do a flow test, that way they can prove which meter is linked to your property. Surely if they have been taking readings from the meter actually connected to your supply they can just use these readings and actually calculate your historic usage.
21:03 Thu 08th May 2014
You should pay something, as you have been using the water (& presumably the sewage element as well). The problem is to work out how much you should pay. I'm not clear whether the amount they have now demanded (£280) is a correct figure based on reading the correct meter. If it is, & they have now reduced it to £87 then it seems to me to be a pretty reasonable result - or are they wanting that as well as half of the £280?

They must have a formal complaint procedure so go through it then to the relevant Ombudsman if you are not satisfied.
I agree with themas.
If someone is sure they are being undercharged it's a good idea to put some money aside in case it's needed later.
The reduction they have made seems a good compromise to me, although I think you have a case for saying you want to spread the overdue amounts over 12 months
Question Author
The £87 per month they want now is for both the current year and the arrears. I have so many issues with them. 1. They set up the d/d at £15.60 which was vastly different from the £50 I had been paying. 2. They ignored my request asking A) how they came to that figure B) what the opening reading was on the new meter C) I requested monitoring the meter because it would become evident very quickly if they had miscalculated and I could then increase the d/d to avoid a debt. D I asked for a statement showing what the bills should have been after they admitted I had been overcharged and said I would be refunded £367 and I wanted to know what payments had been credited to the account;so I could keep check on the account) 3. ) They did not reply initially and I did not get the money sent to me. 4.)They did nothing at all for a year! 5,)When I relayed what had happened after being sent a letter about the arrears in Mar this year they said the reason they had not done as I requested was because they had recorded the wrong meter no. They have admitted the errors, credited the £367 and as a gesture of goodwill halved the arrears. If they had reviewed my usage they would have noticed something wrong with the meter serial number and kept me better informed to help me avoid the debt. From the beginning I have made it clear that I am on a low income taking home around £500 per month. I couldn't stress enough how important it was for me to stay on top of bills. Fortunately I have all my letters to & from them in a file and can photocopy them to use for a case for the Consumer Council for Water, if this remains unresolved. They have admitted their errors and poor service. I just want to know if I have any legal rights ?
I don't think you have any legal rights as you have used the amount of water that they have charged you for. They have made what seems a good compromise but you may want to try to get a bit more back from them or ask them to spread the arrears over 2 years. Good luck
Question Author
I understand what you are saying and I have been paying for some water but how do I know I have used the amount of water they say I have when it was a different serial number on the meter? How do I know if that wrong meter no' was mine?
I don't know - ask them. But you can get readings of your actual usage and then compare that with what they charged for the same period last year. Our water consumption is very consistent.
Ask the water company to do a flow test, that way they can prove which meter is linked to your property. Surely if they have been taking readings from the meter actually connected to your supply they can just use these readings and actually calculate your historic usage.
Question Author
Thank you for that suggestion Hailey that would satisfy me that what they were charging me was indeed for my own supply.
Oracle, do your own flow test. I was being charged on the wrong meter along with a few others in our (new) block of flats. We did our own flow tests by getting one person to turn the kitchen tap on and off and another to identify the corresponding meter. Do it a couple of times to make absolutely sure. Then tell your supplier who will send someone out to check by actually turning the water off at your meter while you are at your tap. This categorically proves you have identified the correct one. My supplier absolutely refused to believe they had the wrong meter; I had to prove it to them by giving the correct number before they took me seriously.
You may find these people useful.
http://www.ccwater.org.uk/adviceandcomplaints/
And OFWAT says they have to agree a payment plan.
http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/consumerissues/problemspayingbill/nobill/
One last thing, if I were you I would telephone them and ask to have a named manager assigned to your case until it is sorted. That way you are not tossed around all over the place. It will take you forever if you don't. Good Luck, you have my sympathy having been there myself:-)
Question Author
Thank you for the suggestion Lady birdfeeder, that's a good idea too.
Maybe I've misunderstood the issues here, oracle39, but I am not sure why a flow test would resolve this. I read it that they had initially made an error and undercharged you for a period, and they had now corrected their records and were trying to recover the amounts they now felt were owed. They wanted to recover it all, then they offered a discount because of their error but you either want more knocked off or you want the debt written off. If that's the case I'm not sure how a flow test would help.
Having said that, there's no harm in doing one
Go back and read what Themas suggested then act on it. This is nowt to do with the accuracy of the meter so it is intriguing that you misunderstand the core issue as to believe that helps. Company made a mistake, offered you money, you rejected that, asserted you want the whole amount owed for water that you used written off, and now you are making it hard for them to talk to you. Barking mad.
This just goes to love my theory... don't go on a water meter unless you move into a property that already has one..... your standing charge although smaller is still based on traceable value of your house.... your sewerage charge is taken as a proportion of your water usage ... calculated by ... wait for it ... don't quite know how to explain this ... if your water usage was 90 cubic metres ..they assume you are getting other fluids from elsewhere .. so your sewerage will be charged higher... ie 100 cubic metres .... obviously ??????
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Hi guys I was just browsing and thought I would give you an update on what the outcome was on this issue. I took the complaint through each step of review with the company until I got to the top with the Director of Customer Relations. She ordered a check to ensure the meter was mine and working correctly, and it was, she agreed that I had received poor customer service (I sent her copies of all the correspondence). There were more than one issue. First the error with the serial number.2nd They could have notified me sooner, their website said they aim to read meters twice in the first year, they didn't, even though I had asked for reviews to check I was paying enough.She waived the outstanding debt. I am now paying the full £50 per month, and I know how to check and submit readings myself. The moral of this is, if you feel strongly enough about it, press on and take it through their complaints procedure to the top!

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