Business customers set to lose £millions when the English Water Retail Market opens

Author: Graham Mann, Water Audit Expert.


union-jack-water-droplet-medium - water retail market


Business customers set to lose £millions when the English Water Retail Market opens – Difficult to believe? – Well its true!


Lets take the Scottish Water Retail Market that has enabled business customers to switch water supplier to obtain discounts on their water bills with anything up to 25%.

Which is great, but if I were to tell you based on a study of a few hundred business customers that had switched water supplier over £600,000 of overcharges have been identified, this is an annual overcharge!

So when business customers are led to believe they will be charged correctly when they switched water supplier and in a large proportion of the cases they are not the water companies should hang theirs heads in shame.


I would certainly urge all none residential customers to commission an independent water audit expert to complete an audit of their water bills, to determine if they have been overcharged and report back to the customer accordingly.


I have proven numerous times that switching water supplier does not guarantee that business customers will be charged for water and waste water services correctly, and I have it in writing from water suppliers “The onus is on the customer to check the bills”


Refunds due to water company overcharging are re-paid back as far as 5 years in Scotland, there are over 130,000 business customers in Scotland so stake your claim!


In April next year the English Water Retail Market opens its doors for businesses which will enable them to switch water supplier and potentially obtain discounts on their water and waste water supply charges. In comparison to Scotland England has 1.2 million none-residential customers and the water company overcharging numbers in terms of refunds due to historical water billing errors will be off the scale in comparison with Scotland.


The same will happen when business customers switch to another water company, if your company has and still is being overcharged this is very likely to continue even if you switch supplier.


BUT and this is a really big but, at the moment if your business is overcharged and a claim is made to amend and cancel the overcharge and refund the money, refunds generally are repaid back over 6 – 15 years dependant on the type of overcharge and claim made.

When the English Water Retail Market opens its doors in April 2017 you will only be able to claim back 2 years ! no matter how many years your business has been billed incorrectly. UK businesses stand to lose many £millions due to being unable to claim back further than 2 years.


For the regulators to support this is quite  frankly beyond belief, and the fact is that there are £millions worth of overcharges the individual numbers are quite staggering these are losses that can never be fully recovered after April 2017.


Take one example: –

A customer in Severn Trent Water area we found had an overcharge of £150,000, this was recently completed and the overcharges go back some 15 years, if we had made this claim after April 2017 the refund would be less than £10,000 which would have been a £140,000 loss to the client.


I realise the numbers are difficult to believe, but this is absolutely true.


What can your business or organisation do?


Take professional advice, not from your water company but from an independent water audit expert, there are only 5 months left before the English Water Retail Market opens, the cut off date 31/03/17.