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Countrywide debt collections / Thames Water

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Well, there's an interesting one, and when I say interesting... :razz:



Water supplied by Thames Water, whose aggressive tactics I have commented on before (sending a "final warning" letter after paying late on ONE instalment for the 1st time in donkeys' years)


Hands up, I messed up. I forgot to reinstate my standing order for the new billing year, then it went out of my head and of course by them I was playing catch-up. Fair enough.


Anyway, I lost my "right" to pay by instalments and they wanted the whole balance. Yeah, cos if I can't pay by instalments, I'll be able to pay it all at once, right? :roll:


Long story short, last month, I paid them £200, which didn't quite catch up with the arrears, and the idea was to pay them double bubble until I'm caught up, in time for when their payment scheme ends (it's done over 8 mths).


Enters Countrywide debt collections, asking to speak to Mr Bookie. Chap with strong Asian accent, to the point I had to ask him the name of the company 5 times (couldn't work out if he was a DCA or an IVA cold caller to start with , lol). Since I was there, and not in too great a mood, and misery loves company, I thought now was a good time to ask a few questions.


Well.... He ABSOLUTELY refused to tell me whether they were acting on behalf of TW or whether they'd bought the debt for pennies (which alone gives me my answer, lol). Repeatedly asked for Mr BW to call them back on an 0870 number (tsk tsk). etc, etc...


So I'm a bit intrigued. Someone (Dave, in fact) said to me not long ago that having water being a basic human right means that they can't cut you off and so that they have little power in the way of collecting monies. I was a bit dubious, but the above behaviour does make me wonder. Why would TW flog a "live", as it were, debt? Why not pursue through a normal arrears dept like everybody else?


Ideas, comments all welcome. :-)

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I asked my wife who worked for Thames Water until their most recent round of redundancies, she left in the early summer.

Thames always own the debt

They will try to collect themselves and then farm it out on a commission basis

They will always take any offer on installment

They cannot cut you off if you are a domestic customer, but can cut you off if you are a business. Not great for cafes and pubs.

They will, if nothing else works, get a ccj and invove bailiffs.

If you are poor and on benefits you can ask them to put you on a "social tariff" which they subsidise, but if you don't ask you don't get.


Martin g

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Martin, thanks for that, but I hope you won't mind me asking, what was your wife's job there? I ask because the reply you made is fairly typical of what you'd expect frontline staff to reply when queried, if you see what I mean. No disrespect to your wife meant at all, btw, but I hope you see what I mean... Like bank tellers telling you the charges are legit because they were told that's what they had to say if people queried them.


The line about CCJ and bailiff for example... That's typical hard talk, but in reality, does that really happen? And if the "always own the debt" part is true, why wouldn't the DCA say that? It would make their position a lot easier if it were true, as they would then have a legitimate claim in chasing you, yet the chap who called yesterday was wriggling around trying not to answer my questions for a good 10 mns, and when asked directly: "If I pay you now, where does the money go? Your company or Thames Water?" he categorically refused to discuss it.

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Not sure about social Tariffs but does this company have a trust fund which can be applied for?? My partner has just received £520.00 of United Utilites Trust Fund to pay off his arrears and partially pay off this years bill.


Try doing a google search and I'm sure that you can apply through other utility companies to pay another ie British Gas to pay of Eon etc etc


The form was quite lengthy and went into some major detail but it was very worthwhile and saved us from the grasping paws of Moorcroft........


He was taken off the installment payplan and referred straight to Moorcroft after one missed payment....they then refused to allow him back onto it within a twelve month period. As far as I know Water companies have taken people to court to attach arrears to your earnings, this happened to a friend of mine a couple of years ago.


TB - good luck with it all x

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Water companies definitely do take court action to obtain CCJ's which their solicitors then collect payment on or issue AOE's. In my job I often get attachments of earning to apply to employees wages - Anglian Water and Severn Trent are two of the worst culprits and I have known them threaten charging orders.

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Hi Bookworm,

Just to clarify the above and answer your question.

My wife worked for Thames for nearly 20 years and saw it go from a PLC to being owned by RWE ( the german co. that owns NPower) to the current ownership of Macquaire ( the Australian investment bankers who own all sorts of companies with high cash flow).

Each change of ownership meant new rounds of cost reduction, redundancies and outsourcing, which always led to more pressure on fewer staff and poorer service to customers.

She was very critical of Thames with the exception of their engineering which is world class- the London ring main and their new venture to turn Sewage into house gas are examples.

The above statements are correct, Thames have offshored a lot of their back offfice functions and so the conversation you had could have been with India and as we have all experienced these can be very frustrating.

I speak on this having spent 20 minutes on Monday talking to 3 mobiles call centre in India about my account ( I want to change my package) and being driven crazy by someone with a poor grasp of english and a delight in telling me that the computer says no. I have now written to their CEO to see if he really wants me to move the 4 contacts I have with them-3 of off which are about to run out.

Bit of a rambling post.


Martin g

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Sory to nose in but does every water company have a social tarriff?


Best to ring them and ask.


Or you could try ofwat.gov.uk the below if from their website which is pretty comprehensive


Having problems paying your bill? Charitable trusts and restart schemes



For those customers in genuine financial difficulty, many companies offer assistance through charitable trusts. These schemes are normally run independently of the company and offer financial assistance to customers who are in debt. They aim to make a long-term difference to customers by giving a new start to those who through an event, such as a personal crisis, have found themselves in debt. Contact your water company to see if they offer such a scheme. Alternatively, details of all utility schemes can be found on the British Gas Energy Trust website.


Additionally, many companies offer payment matching or 'restart' schemes. These work in a variety of ways. For example, some will match each payment the customer makes. So for every £1 paid by the customer the company will also pay £1. Others ask customers to pay for a specified length of time and will then write-off the remainder, in order to give the customer a fresh start. Contact your water company for further details on any schemes they operate

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