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Water audit experts H20 Building Services – UK water deregulation 6 months on.

Author: Graham Mann, Senior Partner, H20 Building Services.

 

Utility week April 3rd 2017 I recall said  “I never thought this day would come but here it is, water deregulation in England, the English water retail market is open for business. The market will encourage real competition and innovation such as “off grid” water supplies and driving new water saving technologies both in water saving devices, rain water harvesting and water flow data collection, hard ware and soft ware which is great for customers and the environment”

 

So since the doors opened what has the team at H20 Building Services experienced!

 

For a kick off any applications submitted to the water companies just before water market deregulation such as: –

Water meter exchanges

Refunds due to water company overcharging

Incorrect billing queries

Applications to connect water management tools to water company meters such as water flow data loggers

 

All these applications were halted and disappeared off the face of the planet, many hours of project administration wasted and we were told to re-apply! Promises from the retailers of superior service, first class service bla bla bla well this was not a good start.

 

Then came the real challenges the water bills, since April 1st to date there has been utter chaos, incorrect water bills, errors such as  balances carried forward that are not correct, waste water volumes that are incorrect, just about every conceivable water billing error. Water bill diversions to Belgium and Castleford without written requests. Then came the red reminders and late payments letters threatening legal proceedings and water supply disconnections, 100’s of them!

 

Where are we now?

 

Incorrect water bills keep on coming, the water bill validation team at H20 Building Services on a daily basis set aside water bills that are yet again incorrect.

 

What about the promises of better service?

 

Many water retailers have not stepped up and delivered better service, there are some far worse than others. The larger retailers seem to be the worse with incorrect water billing time after time, lack of response, average hold times on the telephone 1 hour! the list appears to be never ending.

 

Any bombshells? 

 

Yes, some water retailers are demanding payment in advance, business customers are now having to pay 50 to 90 days in advance of receiving water and waste water bills, with water consumption based on estimated use.

Aside from poor customer service and water billing errors across the board paying up to 90 days in advance is totally unacceptable for all businesses.

 

At the largest end of the scale just imagine if your annual water and waste water bill is £6 million per year in this instance the customer may have to pay up to £1,500,000 up front in advance and from the experiences at H20 Building Services to date the advance bill is sent out with no explanation and when queried we received this

 

“In regards with being billed in advance, water charges relate almost entirely to the provision of long term infrastructure as you will appreciate, this includes treatment facilities, pipes and meters. We are charged in advance by the wholesaler and have to pay in advance for all charges, in most cases we now invoice customers in advance based on estimated readings. This is permitted under our licence and under industry rules” 

 

So no, some water retailers are imposing payment of water bills in advance based on estimated readings effectively the customer is funding their business!

 

Whats your companies view of having to pay water bills in advance?  What is your experience with water retailers to date? Please tell us get in touch with H20 Building Services at  info@h2obuildingservices.co.uk or call 01924 387 873.