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Overcharged on Water Bills: How to Claim?

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 20 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Overcharges Complaints Water Company Ccw

Q.

We have been overcharged for 18 years on our water bills. The utility company makes no effort to deny this, but will only pay back 6 years' overcharges. I can understand that it may be unreasonable to expect companies to keep records for longer than 6 years and this might account for the Statute of Limitation which they are hiding behind. We have the bills however, to prove the overcharging. Can the company legitimately refuse to pay in this situation?

(J.H, 11 June 2009)

A.

Disputes Over Time Limits

Times limits for reclaiming overcharges have often been disputed by companies and the customers who are reclaiming their payments. Regulating bodies do have different guidelines on how many years a customer can reclaim overpayments. For instance, where bank charges are concerned the usual reclaim limit is six years. However the Financial Services Ombudsman has stated that there is no time limit on how far back claims can be made. There is a lot of conflicting information on time limits when reclaiming overcharges. If a customer is reclaiming they should aim for as high a period as possible, in your case 18 years.

The Complaints Procedure

As you have already contacted your water company about your water bill overcharges and are still not satisfied the next step will be to go higher up the complaints chain. Before the next step is taken make sure that the water company is aware that you are unhappy with their attempt at resolving the matter. This contact should be addressed to a more senior member of the water company. Regulatory offices will not deal with complaints until some form of attempt at resolving the matter has been made between the customer and the company.

Water Company Regulators

If a senior member of staff has reviewed your water bill overcharging and you are still not satisfied with the outcome it will be time to contact the regulating bodies. In the case of water companies the route to take will be the Consumer Council for Water. The CCWater committee will be the next in line to deal with the dispute between customers and the water company. The CCW is an independent organisation that will investigate complaints regarding water companies and their services are free to use.

CCW and Ofwat

When contacting the CCW make sure to fully explain the grievance and send all necessary documentation with the complaint. For more information about complaints handled by the CCW go to their website at www.ccwater.org.uk. Another useful contact will be the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat). Both will be able to give a great deal of advice and information on complaints and disputes with water companies.

Small Claims Court

A final course of action to the dispute may be to take the matter to the small claims court. This would usually be a last resort and will only apply when claiming £5000 or less. The small claims court is designed to be easy to use, inexpensive, and a solicitor is not required although it may be useful to obtain legal information. Contact the HM Court Service in England and Wales or the Scottish Courts in Scotland for the full small claims court process.

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Regarding water overcharging by local authorities (Water Orders) and water companies (Water Industry Act), I have almost taken this as far as it will go.Ofwat think it's ok that smaller housing units should subsidise larger ones, CCWater won't ask the crucial question and Watrs let the companies off on technicalities.I am paying less than £2 per week on meter as compared to over £10 per week through Council.Why will no-one challenge these water companies ?
Alan Wednesday - 20-Sep-17 @ 3:33 PM
Every household is charges for highway and surface water drainage ( RAINFALL !!!)It is unmeasured and quite arbitrary , I live in a flat in a block of 100 flats and we are each charged £100 pound per annum = £10,000 the 20 houses across the road who have the same rainfall and use the same drainage are charged £100 each =£2,000 per annum ,I have complained to offwat ,my MP and nothing is done , Unites Utilities postedoperating profits of £660 millionlast year , it is obscene .
okehish1956 - 16-Aug-17 @ 6:11 PM
dorinia - Your Question:
Hello I have been paying full charge for my water rates for the past 10 years and was told by a friend I was paying to much I did ask for rebate and was told they don't do that. I am now paying the right amount for the year. Not sure the next step.Thanks for your support.

Our Response:
I'm afraid I cannot advise you on anything further than the article suggests regarding going further up the complaints chain.
UnclaimedFinances - 11-Aug-16 @ 11:55 AM
Hello I have been paying full charge for my water rates for the past 10 years and was told by a friend I was paying to much I did ask for rebate and was told they don't do that. I am now paying the right amount for the year. Not sure the next step.Thanks for your support.
dorinia - 10-Aug-16 @ 1:22 PM
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