A water retail company demands payment of metered water bills 5 months in advance – Pay up or we disconnect you!!
Water retail company Castle Water now demands full payment of metered water bills 5 months in advance based on estimated volumes of both metered water in and waste water volumes out, if customers refuse to pay up on demand Caste water will arrange for disconnection of the water services.
This is a first in the UK water market says water industry expert Graham Mann of H20 Building Services.
Never in 30 years in the water industry have I ever experienced this kind of appalling and aggressive business behavior from any water retail company. These demands for payment of water bills have come literally out of the blue with tens of thousands of businesses and public sector organisations being forced to stump up tens of millions of pounds in advance and without due warning or prior agreement and will know doubt come as a shock to a many bill payers.
By our reckoning this is the only national water retail company to take such aggressive action, demanding 5 months up front payments which coupled with their rock bottom customer service will without doubt have a drastic effect on their customer numbers.
Graham Mann goes on to say
We challenged Castle Water last week and they cancelled many water bills with advance payment claims, now they are issuing notices of intended disconnection bypassing our water bill validation team and sending the disconnection notices direct to our customers sites. The water retail company Castle Water when pressed and asked for a copy of their water contract sent this email.
“Water charges relate almost entirely to the provision of long term infrastructure, as you will appreciate this include treatment facilities, pipes and meters. We are charged in advance by the wholesaler (in your case Thames Water) and have to pay in advance for these charges.
In most cases we now invoice customer in advance based on estimated readings, this is permitted under our licence and industry rules.
In terms of the billing period and the historic meter readings, like most utility billing systems our billing takes actual usage history from meter readings and uses it to calculate a daily estimated volume, it then calculates the total bill for the period until the end of the billing period.
The industry codes and regulatory requirements are for us to take one meter read per annum to be used as the basis for billing and actual meter readings are not required for all bills. We are happy to take your own meter readings at other times if you think your average usage may have changed.
The new market structure put in place by OFWAT and DEFRA from 1st April requires us to pay in advance each month for every customers usage calculated on the same basis as we invoice you and we have to make these payments every month”
A company representative also said “if you don’t like it you can switch”!
In addition to this huge payments of water bills in advance Castles Waters customer services are one if not the worst in the UK with average waiting times recorded “number 51 in the queue 55 minutes waiting”
Emailed account issues have been taking on average 4 – 6 weeks for replies to complaints and numerous water bills issues according to the water bill validation and bureau team at H20 Building Services which is rapidly approaching a grinding halt due to the numerous billing issues on a daily basis.
UK businesses and public sector organisations need to be fully informed and aware of these new water billing practices as Castle Water have been awarded over £200 million pounds worth of public sector water procurement contracts with a recent award we understand via Crown Commercial Services and on the basis of the new billing regime imposed by Castle Water the public sector will be billed tens of Millions in advance. Not to mention the rock bottom customer service and numerous billing errors.
What action would Castle Water take if school, hospitals, MOD and key public buildings in London did not stump up 5 months payments in advance, threaten disconnection?
We don’t think so!
You have been warned
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