Wat-er-Save Overturn Back Charges Worth Over £143,000
Recently one of our clients, a national operator of UK park homes, received a rather unexpected letter from their local water company. The letter wasn’t addressed to anyone specifically but to their head office with the title “Dear Sir/Madam”. Were they contacting them to offer assistance on sustainability or efficiency measures? Maybe they had spotted that one of their parks was leaking and wanted to make sure they weren’t wasting their valuable resource? Perhaps they were warning of a potential disruption of water supply in their area?
No. It transpired that the water company were not contacting them to help or improve their services, but instead for something a little bit more serious: £143,000! The water company were contacting them to inform them that one of their park homes (based in their locality) had been under-billed since 2008. The letter informed them that current consumption levels were not in-line with levels from previous years, meaning that under-billing had occurred and they would be invoicing for the difference. The letter assured the client that the correspondence was not intended to be a demand for payment, but 2 paragraphs after this statement they made the point that an invoice will be raised within 2 weeks of the date of the letter and it is to be paid within 14 days!
The water company had put the under-billing down to an open valve/bypass around the water meter so the water wasn’t passing through the meter. Essentially, the park were getting water for free. What had actually transpired was somewhat different. The park had been using its normal consumption levels for the period of back-charges but had started to suffer from issues with leaking pipes. So not only were they incurring high water charges (due to the leakage) they were also being chased for over £143,000. Wat-er-Save were working on park detecting and repairing water leaks when the letter arrived. Leakage levels had hit as high as 20m3/hr at their worst. With the pipework at around 1.6m to 2.1m deep this was not straightforward work.
Wat-er-Save were able to reduce the leakage levels on the park to a far more acceptable 0.3m3/hr, which in turn reduced the ADC (Average Daily Consumption) which refuted the water company’s original claim of a bypass being open around the water meter. The claim was then cancelled and the client didn’t pay the water company a single penny. We are continuing to monitor the consumption via data loggers to make sure that this level of leakage is maintained.
Some water companies employ consultants to specifically look out for opportunities where they feel the water company has under-billed a customer. Once a potential under-billing opportunity has been raised they are also allowed to back-date this under-billing for a statutory 6 years which is approved by the industry regulator OFWAT.
If you receive such a letter, please don’t put your head in the sand. Don’t assume that the water company wouldn’t contact you without sufficient evidence. Contact Wat-er-Save; we will be more than happy to discuss your case on a “no-win, no-fee, no risk” basis.