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Crossed water meter - won't reimburse £1000 overpayment!!

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Hi all


I'm hoping one (or several of you!) can help regarding an ongoing issue with the truly appalling United Utilities.

My father has lived in his flat for 10 years and he has a water meter; around 3/4 years ago his bills began slowly to rise and around 18 months ago (early 2008) his bills rose to the point he had to lend money from me and my brothers to pay - he was also made unemployed at this time. Of course dad repeatedly contact United Utilities to tell them he thought the bills were incorrect and asked a year ago for someone to look at the meter. They finally sent someone on 31st July 2009.


The inspector confirmed after full checking that the meter was crossed. The bill my father has been paying belongs to another flat, and the meter attached to his supply is paid by another property. The inspector confirmed which meter should be attributed to my dad's account, and confirmed that the reading on that meter was 811. In May 2009 my dad's bill read 1220 units. He has thus paid an extra 409 units (£1000, or 2666 days of water).


Dad rang United Utilities a few days following the inspectors visit, and he was told that the inspectors report would be used to amend his account and repayment would have to be fully worked out. Two weeks later dad rang and they had taken no action. They told dad another inspector would have to view the meter and this would take 2 months.


I then spoke to United Utilities, and after being verbally abused by staff and overtly lied to, they acknowledged that they did not need to send an inspector to my dad's flat, they needed to send it to the flat who had been paying my dad's bill. In short, even though they accept which meter supplies my dad's flat, and that he has overpaid massively, they are refusing to return his money unless they can make a clean swap with the other flat who has paid his bill. The other flat is currently vacant, and the landlord is uncooperative. Can they really sit on dad's money and continue to force him to pay for water he has not used?


I have contacted my dad's MP who has agreed to get involved - but the consumer council for water are not interested as we have not received a 'deadlock' letter (UU won't issue this because they argue they can continue chasing the other flat until whichever time they see fit).



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The answer is that you should now put a stop to this nonsense and issue a serious unltimaatum and then sue for the money. I owjuld suggest that 7 days is quite a long enough to give them.

Not only should you get your money back but you should also sue for the profit whcih they have made on your money. This means that you should sue for restitutionary damages.

Whatever happens, you should not accept a mere reimbursement. You should seek proper compensation for what has happened

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Thanks so much for that reassurance. UU insisted that this swapping-only policy is standard practice and that we have no right to complain. Its good to know that we aren't mad.


One query though - how would we go about suing? Dad is still unemployed (which makes this all the more horrendous) so we don't have the money to pay for solicitors.

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Making a Claim This link will take you to the HMCS site where you can get info on what you should do/think about before you make a claim, how to make a claim, etc.


You don't need a Solicitor to make a claim you can do it for yourselves and the info on the site will show you how to do this. However, you may find it useful to get some free advice i.e. CAB, local law centres. Your dad may be able to get legal aid either for pre-Court help and advice or for representation in Court. You don't know until you ask.


Have you gone through their complaints procedure. Their complaints leaflet states that you can complain and if not happy with their response ask for an independent review. If not happy with the review response you can then go to the Consumer Council for Water. This is also confirmed on the Council's website. They don't want to send you a deadlock letter but if you have letters showing you have been through their complaints procedure then the Council have to investigate. If you do not have letters showing this at the moment put your complaint in writing stating it is a formal complaint and then ask for a review stating I want a review of my complaint. Keep copies of these letters so if they do not state complaint or review on their responses you can still show the Council that this was what you requested and that they responded to your letters.


Good luck. Why should your father suffer because they can't get someone else to co-operate? This is how they treat someone who has paid their bills? It's disgraceful.

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