Anglian Water: The 22 month payment theft
Anglian Water is the water authority covering the part of the UK that I live in. Some of you lovely readers may also be in this catchment, but regardless of which company provides your water it always pays to check your bill every once in a while. Here is a little story to show why even companies with big left hands do not always know what their big right hands are doing.
22 months ago I switched over from water rates to a water meter. For those of you who don’t know the difference here is a short explanation:
If you are on water rates you have a set monthly bill which remains the same price each month. Pretty good if you have a large family and like to sit in a full bath every day watching Jeremy Kyle or have a swimming pool/hot tub to fill up from time to time.
If you are like me and share a house with only one other person and do not like Jeremy Kyle then I would definitely investigate switching to a water meter. A water meter measures the water you use and your bill reflects this accordingly. Giving you (usually) smaller monthly bills, especially if you are a small household using little water.
Anglian water fitted a meter into the ground outside my property 22 months ago. Ever since then I have been paying £60 PER MONTH for water. Due to perhaps a small error on my part I did not question this extortionate amount. This was largely due to it being set up using Direct Debit as payment and the monthly statements being summarily dumped straight into a folder without really looking at them.
Whilst I admit the fault here partially lies with me for not checking how much I was paying each month for water, I might add that upon initial inspection by an Anglian water technician (when switching over to a meter) I was told that having a meter installed in the street would be impossible due to us sharing our water supply with the house next door. However upon installation of the meter, a separate technician promptly told me the other guy “didn’t know what he was talking about” and that a meter in the street would be fine.
I’m sure I don’t need to spell out the fact that technician part deux did indeed make a monumental balls up and installed a meter on a shared supply – meaning for the past 22 months our meter has not only recorded our water but also the neighbours’ as well. Oh wait, I just did spell it out :/
To put things into perspective, a family of four (two adults, two children) per month pay around £30 on a meter. This means we have overpaid nearly £700 in just under two years. Not good. This money could have been invested, put into an ISA earning me interest, or been spanked on a roulette table at my local casino but alas, had lined Anglian Water’s pockets instead.
The phone call
After a random conversation with a friend also on a meter, we realised something was wrong and promptly phoned Anglian water who said “please turn off the meter in the street and see if next door’s water turns off too”. When I suggested that it was neither appropriate nor my job to carry out this test I was informed that if Anglian water were to send someone out to do it instead I would “expect to wait up to 6 weeks” for it to be done.
EXCELLENT SERVICE MUCH?????
With that in mind I politely ended the call, turned the meter off in the street and then promptly disturbed my 93 year old neighbour (who lives by herself) to check if the water had stopped to her property which it of course had.
It then took another call to Anglian Water before I was told to wait “up to 5 weeks for an engineer to fit a new meter in the property”. After telling them this was unacceptable I got transferred to the complaints department.
The complaints department
Spoke to a very nice lady from complaints who assured me this problem would be sorted in no time and that I would get a rebate for all water used. She reduced my bill down to £21.26 per month and said I would get a call on Monday to arrange a new meter to be fitted. I didn’t get a call. Screw you lady. I just said you were nice. Upon ringing them back the following Tuesday I did eventually get a call back and a new meter is now being fitted on the 17th of July which was the earliest they could fit me in.
The current situation
About 4 days ago a guy from Clancy Docwra (sub contractors for Anglian Water) came out and fitted a meter to the property NEXT DOOR. The helpful technician actually knocked on my door asking if I knew I would be “getting overcharged for water due to my meter in the street being incorrectly fitted and recording next door’s water as well”. I informed the technician that I did and that I was waiting for an internal meter to be fitted to which he replied if they had told him to put one into my property too then he could have done that easily and promptly apologised.
Upon calling Anglian Water yet again to ask why the technician had not been told to install a meter at my property I was told “It was probably just booked in from ages ago”.
Once the new meter is fitted I shall have my water usage monitored for a week to assess how much they owe me back in the form of a rebate. I shall write a follow up post in due course.
So to sum up, the points I am making here are as follows:
- ALWAYS check ALL bills.
- Do not trust a company to do a job correctly or accurately just because they are a large organisation or well known.
- Do not think that the company actively look for errors such as these. In fact it seems that even 22 months of ridiculous overpayment didn’t set any alarm bells ringing on a computer system somewhere, meaning such a system simply doesn’t exist.
- Always use the complaints department. They have actually been pretty helpful and certainly cut down the 5 week waiting period for a new meter in this example.