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What water audit experts H20 see and hear which very often you may not – Intrigued ?

When companies engage our water audit services, bill validation services or water leak detection and water leak repair services they will never get to hear the comments water company staff make to us in the course of our work and why should they? After all its not the clients making claims or querying overcharges on water bills, that’s what they pay us to do right.

 

Since the Scottish Water retail market has opened up to competition we now have a staggering 19 different water retail supply companies fighting for your business in Scotland.  With a business customer base of some 138,000 all 19 companies are bending over backwards offering bigger discounts, better service, added value services, really?

What’s changed? ok you get a % discount off your bills that’s it! better service? this we have not seen to date but what we have seen here at H20 is incorrect charging on a massive scale. When queries or claims are made it takes months to resolve basic issues, ranging from new water supply connections, changing faulty water meters to name but a few. Even when we head our emails “Complaint” our complaint does not go through any complaints procedure that we recognise and rarely does the complaint end up on a senior managers desk.

 

The picture is exactly the same with many English water companies (I said many not all and you know who you are).

I will give you a few examples of poor service and a complete and apparent disdain for their customers.

Some example cases on going right now

 

* Water company overcharges since 2004 estimated at £70,000. Charges and tariff set up by H20 during 2002, 2 years later the water company makes alterations to the waste water account and as a consequence our client is overcharged. After several letters and phone calls over months we send a letter to the CEO, yep that’s right the Chief Executive because the water company will only refund £24,000 and not the full amount of the overcharge. Bearing in mind this water company as a consequence of the overcharge has received revenues for waste water volumes twice once via the customer directly and once from the landlord of the client. You would therefore think that a CEO of a water company would agree to refund all of the charges especially when you read on his companies website a personal statement by him.

 

“I realise that from time to time we don’t always get it right. Customers are at the heart of what we do and we continually strive to improve our customer service, to provide the level of service that our customers both expect and deserve”

 

A pretty clear and bold statement, well you be the judge.

Firstly the CEO could not be bothered to reply to my letter preferring to pass it down the ranks but this is the reply

 

“As you point out the double charge which has indeed taken place, arose because we mistakenly removed a waste water abatement allowance from the Landlords account in 2004 this then had the effect of the Landlord charging (the client) for waste water whilst (the water company) was also charging the client under the trade effluent consent. I appreciate your point that in the period 2004 – 2008 this issue of the double charge has not been corrected”

 

What say you?  – They have no intention of returning the monies owed, hollow words from the CEO don’t you think.

 

Another case travelling further north to another water company area.

 

* The previous water meter attracted a large annual standing charge, by completing a water audit and re-sizing the water meter to a smaller water meter the annual water and waste water standing charges will be reduced saving £3,500 per annum on the clients water charges.

It took the water company 1 year 8 months to complete this work which has cost the client nearly £5,000 in lost savings. After numerous requests still no refund of lost savings and continually blaming the water wholesaler.

 

* This same company group has been overcharging on surface water charges since 2007 approx. £80,000 even though their own surveyors visited the site to verify the surface water band charges a few years ago and deemed them to be correct! The site is right by a water course and all of the surface water run off goes into the water course and not into the water company sewers.

The water companies drainage plans were incorrect and therefore the customer has been overcharged ever since.

There is a water company surveyor report made after their visit several years ago, we have asked for a copy and the water company have refused. Why, because it will implicate the water company, proving they knew the charges were incorrectly levied.

To date we are still fighting this case as they have said “Our offer to allow 50% of the surface water charges back to 1st April 2011 is a generous goodwill offer” Really?

Much depends on which side of the desk you are on.

 

What do they say on their website – “Providing a great service means our customers can simply get on with their day, we are a business they can trust”  Really?

 

In our opinion they cannot be trusted to levy correct bills and when they do overcharge as a consequence of their own records being incorrect they refuse to repay the overcharges.

 

The above are a simply a snapshot of the cases we deal with at the £50,000 / £80,000 level, there are many others below this figure up to and in excess of £600,000.

As more and more companies enlist our services the frequency of the overcharge cases obviously increases, thank god not all water companies are the same.