The option to switch water supplier should be suspended indefinitely pending internal water company audits.
The water retail market opened April of this year allowing businesses to switch water supplier.
There is real and justifiable concern that 1,000’s of businesses are receiving incorrect bills and essentially being overcharged and paying these overcharged water bills with little prospect of them receiving refunds.
Why? Because of the general lack of expertise, knowledge and awareness and the overcharging on various elements of the water bill is often hidden to the untrained eye.
Over the years H20 had identified and secured refunds due to historical water billing errors totalling many £millions.
The water industry promised us “better standards of service” says the water regulator OFWAT and “better customer service” says Openwater and “receive better customer service” says the Government website from Crown Commercial Services.
Just about all of the water retailers promised a better customer service and experience but so far this has not been delivered.
Here are prime examples of the issues the water bill validation and bureau team at H20 are having to deal with on a day to day basis.
- Virtually no water bills for Scottish Water customers since March 2017, the water retailer has no idea when they will be in a position to send out any water bills with one senior director claiming “I thought this had been sorted”
- Increasing water meter standing charges by 40% without prior notification.
- Numerous bills sent but all incorrect due to certain charge structures.
- Incorrect water bills sent back to the water retailer 5 times and re-billed again all incorrect with it seems no quality control.
- A 50 site consolidated water bill re-billed and rejected due to billing errors with the water retailer unable to bill correctly with issues going back from 3 months.
- Water bills for various clients diverted to a random address in Europe without authorisation – a clear breach of data protection.
- Duplicated bills sent once on a consolidated account and again on separate bills.
- Water retailer charging for more waste volume discharged than water volume taken in, therefore overcharging on waste water charges.
- Water and waste charged 3 times more than the published tariff.
- Money taken from clients’ accounts via direct debit but no bills received, we later found out they had either been sent to a random address in Europe or to a company nothing to do with the client in Castleford – again a clear breach of data protection.
- Receiving dozens of debt collection letters when the water bills have been paid, the water retailer not checking bank accounts.
- On hold telephone queries for on average 40 minutes.
- After numerous promises at Director level no change in service, emails and phone calls ignored.
The ability to switch water supplier should be suspended immediately with each water retailer thoroughly audited to ensure they have the ability to send out correct bills and those bills issued since water market deregulation should be audited to ensure they are correct and any overcharges refunded plus compensation.
Many water retailers are flouting their responsibility and in some cases knowingly sending out incorrect water bills.
The water regulators must get a grip as customers are and will lose faith in the water retail market which at the moment is a good thing for some customers.
If your business or organisation has concerns over water billing or is looking at switch water supplier contacts our water retail department on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01924 387 873.