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Thames Water - 6 year row with TW - Please help

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I am helping an absent friend out with this case:


I have written to Thames Water formally advising them that an account is in dispute. I have requested a site visit to assess true water consumption as their bill was based on their estimation of potential usage not actual consumption and has no relevance to true usage with an owner occupier who spends at least 8months abroad. I have also asked TW to notify DCAs to refrain from contacting as the account is in dispute and if they do I would make formal complaint to OFT. The letter was dated 6 days ago.


Today, I received a further letter from DCA - Moorcroft - "Notice of Intended Litigation".


Is there a template to send to both DCA and TW as they have breached my requests ??


I asked TW to contact me with a site visit date - in writing - within 10 days of date of letter.


Please help. I need to sort this out for my absent friend.

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Me again


This is what I was considering sending to the DCAs who contact my friend: Anyone have any better ideas ???



I refer to your letter of xxxxx, the content of which is noted. The debt to your client is in dispute.


On xxxxx I made a formal request to your client that the account was in dispute.


In the circumstances, you/Thames Water’s threat of legal action would appear to be a breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Office of Fair Trading Guidance on Debt Collection. Should you or your client bring proceedings, they will be robustly defended, and the Court's attention drawn to the above statutory breaches. Furthermore, I reserve the right to bring the conduct of your client to the Court when the issue of costs is considered.


Yours faithfully

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Have you written permission from your friend to deal with this? If not get it so that Thames Water know that you are acting as your friend's agent.


Thames Water appear to not kmow what the situation is and the utilities often use DCAs as agents to try to find out what is going on. Ignore Moorcroft totally and deal only with Thames Water who should not be using a DCA in any case.


I am unable to understand why TW are billing on the basis of potential usage. If there is a meter I presume that TW have not been able to read it.


Tell us more! - so that we can give proper advice.

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I have authority to act on behalf of my friend. Infact I posted letters to TW on his behalf. I wrote them; he approved them; I printed and posted them. The friend is currently overseas and has been since late last year. I am kind of acting as pa - have keys to apartment, opening all mail, scanning docs and emailing, so that friend is kept up to date with all personal affairs.


Friend lives in an apartment. I have already spoken to TW about fitting a meter for friend who have advised that it is impossible to fit a meter in a block where there is shared supply of mains water (5 flats).


TW have been billing friend constantly for years on estimated usage (rateable value of property, I think it is called). I have my own on-going dispute with TW and when I saw TW demands to my friend I was horrified that friend was just accepting their huge bills.


To put in perspective, friend has a 1 bed apt with a dribble of a supply to the kitchen, no washing machine, a broken toilet which can only be flushed with a bucket :(, and friend on average spends months abroad - in this instance the last 8 months abroad - and friend received "in advance" bill of almost £600.


TW have sent demands for arrears of "estimated usage" of £400 in 08-09 (abroad for 6 months) and demands for "potential usage" of £600 for 09-10 (already abroad 7m in 09). Both have not been paid by my friend.


I criticised my friend for never questioning TW's billing practise in the past and got friends permission to tackle them on these 2 bills and maybe to reclaim many, many years of inaccurate billing. The letter to TW asked for a site visit, and advised that a colleague (me) would be handling everything whilst abroad. The letter specifically asked them to notify the DCAs that the account was in dispute and if any further letters were received from the dcas that the OFT would be informed.


So what do you think the best action would be now ?

I seriously can not believe that my friend has been blindly accepting and paying TW bills for apx 15yrs !!

I see a challenging battle here, maybe for a huge claim for repayment ??

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That is very helpful.


Before the community charge was introduced in 1990 all water charges were based on rateable value.. Since 1990 all new built properties have of necessity been fitted with meters, though in the early days occasionally meters were not fitted.


Many properties that had a rateable value before 1990 have been split into flats and these flats where possible should have had meters fitted but this was often not done.


Occupants can force water companies to fit meters and they must do this unless a) fitting meters is not feasible or b) fitting meters is 'unreasonably expensive'. Until an application for a meter has been made those properties that cannot be charged on rateable value (because there isn't one) are charged an 'assessed' amount. Presumably you friend has never applied for a meter and until he does so the assessed amount has to be paid.


So I would suggest that you pay the most recent bill which will get TW and Moorcroft off your back and show them you are not a 'won't pay'. Do not pay any advance payment. I presume they are asking for this because they have had difficulty getting payment in the past because your friend has been abroad so much. Explanations to them would be better.




a)apply for a water meter - there is no question that a metered supply for your friend will be considerably cheaper.


It may be that TW have already assessed the property for meters and have said it is not feasible. Check they have got it right Bear in mind that meters almost always reduce bills for water and TW may be not wish to fit one - any excuse will do.


b)) argue the amount for this and all previuos assessments. This will depend on the system of assessment and you should get a full breakdown from TW as to how they have arrived at their figure.


If ALL water is directly from the mains supply to the building then it is feasible to fit a meter immediately.


If your friend is likely to stay in the property and his occupancy is likely to remain inttermittent it would be well worthwhile to explore the possibility of making it feasible for a meter to be fitted to his flat only. I presume the flat is rented?


The problem will likely be that most of the water particularly for toilets is supplied via a communal header tank in the loft. There must be at least one tap that is supplied directly from the mains so it is easily possible to disconnect the loft supply from your frienda appliances and to replumb them as an all mains supply. Then a meter can be fitted. You would have to get plumbing adviice particularly when comverting appliances to accept mains pressure but it should pay for itself very quickly. At least his loo would then work ! However if the flat is rented you will also have to consult the landlord.


Your friend has a very good friend !


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thanks Pelham9,


My friend owns the apt. Has done for almost 20 years, I think. It is never rented out to anyone else. It is on the ground floor.


I think my friend has paid relatively on time in the past as always someone used to check all post when abroad - but I can not be sure on that point.


A meter has not been applied for. However, I did speak to TW to ask for one to be fitted and they said it was not possible. I guess I can chase this issue, if I know that they are just being difficult cos of a cost factor for them. I told them that the bills received by my friend bore no relevence to consumption and that assessed bills were no longer accepted. They ignored me as I am not the owner and then the demands started arriving.


Do you suggest that I ignore the dcas and write straight back to TW ? Asking them to assess water meters too for all the occupants ? Or just my friend ?


Thanks for the compliment. I'm fighting a lot of personal battles this year to get on top of my own finances and this is just a-n-other that I can get my teeth into, even if it is for an absent friend...

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Yes ignore the DCA - they are being used to frighten you to get you to pay what they have demanded. But do pay the account up to date -but refuse to pay anything in advance.

If TW are ignoring you because you are not the occupant then you must ask your friend to drop them a line to say he has appointed you as his agent in this matter. The letter only needs to be a couple of lines long and must include your name and address. It would be as well if he writes you a similar short letter.

When you have got his written authority then apply for a meter for him They will refuse but they must give a reason for the refusal - and it must be a full reason and not just 'it is not possible' As I have said previously the reason is probably that at present his flat is sharing some water with the other flats via a communal header tank. If that is so explore the possibility of making your friend's supply direct from the mains using the mains supplying his/her mains tap. If all his water is supplied directly from the mains there is no reason that a meter could not br fitted internal to the flat.

You also need to write to TW asking for the way they have assessed the premises for water charges. Certainly £600 a year is far to much for a bed sit with one occupant who is not there for at least 60% of the time. My flat has two occupants many visitors two bathrooms and toilets kitchen and daily use of a dishwasher and clothes washer - we pay £260 metered charges which incudes sewerage. Until a meter is fitted you will be stuck with assessed charges,

Sounds to me that the occupants of the other flats would be well advised to look into their charges and do likewise. Note that sewerage charges are based on the metered water usage. There will probably be another charge for surface drainage which would have to be shared equally with the other flats and there may well be a communal tap used for car washing garden use etc which would have to be metered and paid by the block occupants on an agreed basis.

Thames Water official website - Assessed Household Charge

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Thanks once again for this info.


Interestingly an account statement arrived yesterday for my friend. :) One was not asked for !

However, it goes back to start 2002 ! Now I can see firstly that my friend has always paid monthly without fail, until this last trip started in Dec 08.

But most importantly I can see that the bills are assessed - chargeable value/rate per £. And that their assessment is way too high for one person with limited utilities and often absent.


TW were asked to contact my friend in writing within 10 days with an appointment date to assess the usage and potential to fit a meter and that a colleague - me - would meet TW and revert back to owner. So far no letter has been received. But another dca letter arrived. I decided to send the dca a letter advising that the acc was in dispute, as per 31 July posting, just to make sure there was no confusion there !


I will look to draft a letter with your helpful advice below and send in the next few days... Many thanks for that.

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I decided to send the dca a letter advising that the acc was in dispute, as per 31 July posting, just to make sure there was no confusion there !



It is just possible that your letter will stop the DCA chasing you but I doubt it! At least now you will feel better about ignoring them.


I have been wondering about the £600 assessment charge. This would appear to be higher than could be assessed on the whole apartment block.


Does your friend own the whole block!?


Have you any information on the other occupant's bills? You might well be doing them a favour to find out.


chargeable value/rate per £.


Can you explain exactly what they are doing.

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  • 6 months later...

Just thought I would add an update on this. Still not got very far on behalf of my friend, who is still overseas.


TW eventually sent a rep round. It took until Jan this year though. I started disputing friend's bills 7 months earlier in June !!


As friend's apt is empty with no heating I rang TW in the morning of the expected appointment and asked if my # could be given to the rep to call me within 15mins of expected arrival to prevent me hanging around for hours in the property getting cold.

Half an hour before the start of the original 4 hour alloted time given, my phone rang. The rep was already at the property and expected to get in at once. I quickly ran round to the property. It was immediately clear that the rep had hoped to just post a card saying he'd missed me, rather than carry out the appointment !


Firstly it also wasnt TW. It was a sub contractor who covered the area for TW. Secondly he didnt want to pay for parking (expensive London streets) and said he didnt have a credit card which is now needed for so many meters. I asked a working builder to keep an eye on rep's van instead. But by not paying to park legally, it was painfully obvious that the rep did not want to stay in the premises to carry out a proper check of the water supply. He rushed round and pretended to check pipes and fob me off (being a naive woman :mad:) and then very quickly said it was impossible to have a meter. When I queried why he said it would be too expensive for TW to put one in. I advised that friend had been paying for 20 years for water he had never consumed and I would have thought that would have easily covered the costs. He was not a very smart man. He then got very angry and on the doorstep started trying to argue with me about shareholders profits being reduced with such unnecessary work etc... And then started shouting that he was going to get a ticket on his van. When I pointed out that in order to do his job properly and conscientiously he needed to have peace of mind that his car was parked legally, rather than being watched over by builder trying to do his own job, he screamed at me. So I gave up.


The long and the short of this is that my friend recently got a letter from TW saying that the result of this appointment was that it was impossible to fit a meter. They also advised that on this basis all charges still stand although they will now put him on a tarif suited for 1 bed/1person occupancy. But friend must still pay almost £1k in backdated water charges.


So what can I now write to TW ?

I am concerned for my friend.

Firstly it took TW 7 months to come to an appointment. Hence 7 more months of excessive charges.

I repeatedly wrote to them advising it was 1 person/ 1 bed but property empty for more than a year and often empty too.

And obviously after the debacle described above I cannot accept that the rep's judgment of meter viability was correct.

So any good advice on complaints and trying to get aother appointment / enforce a meter to be fitted ???


Any help is appreciated.

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DID TW give you any reason why it is not possible to fit a meter? Renenber that in my first post to you I warned you that you must not acept their assessment without them giving reasons. In this situation they will not be helpful as water meters cost them.


If there are good reasons you should get a plumber to assess what can be done to make it possible for a meter to be fitted and an estimate of the costs for the work.

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Thank you Pelham.

They did not give reasons. Other than they would have to dig up the pavement. The irony is that TW is digging up half of London anyway at the moment to replace old mains pipes, so I really do not get their argument...

I will write a letter back to TW, on my friend's behalf, describing the debacle that took place and not accepting his assessment.

I guess I will find a plumber too who could assess the possibility and cost.

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  • 2 years later...


I have had a long running argument with Thames Water - almost 6 years infact !! And I am completely fed up and want to draw a line under it now.

I just wondered if someone can help.


Very simply, I had a meter fitted early 2005. I paid all subsequent bills against actual readings from installation in 2005. But in mid 2007 I received a bill which had suddenly increased by almost £300, despite being overseas for a few months. I complained.

It took TW 6 months to come and investigate, remove the meter and discover it was faulty. In the meantime I had paid the huge bill anyway.

I then wrote to complain about the huge bill and request a credit be added to my account as the meter had been found faulty and it would have been impossible to have consumed such huge amount of water whilst overseas and with no leak on the premises.

Can you imagine my surprise when....

TW replied with a further bill of almost £700, backdated to meter installation in 2005 !!


Of course, I complained - again. TW immediately reduced this bill, by half. Again - I complained.

The bill was made up - an imaginary figure concocted and it bore no relevance to any readings. TW used the argument that this amount was what they thought I could possibly have consumed with a faulty meter. I argued that they could not prove any actual consumption. I also suggested that surely the meter would not have been faulty from installation, only from the point in mid 2007 when the reading suddenly went off the charts.

TW have never accepted that they are wrong.

I have continued to argue against this bill.

In the last 6 years I have had many debt collectors letters and have rebuked them.

I have written again and again to TW saying I do not accept this bill. TW employees have changed regularly and I now just get fomulaic letters saying TW have not found any leaks or faults and they can not amend the bill.

I am SO frustrated.


For the record, I had 2 more faulty meters !! Even though TW state this rarely happens !!


I am not sure how to proceed now.

I have recently asked TW to cancel this fictitious bill and to offer me a credit, back-dated to mid 2007. They have refused - so far.

It is taking too much time.

So do I challenge them via a body, like the Ombudsman? or is there something else I can write to TW to get them to finally accept they were/are wrong ?

It would be really appreciated to have some feedback.

Many thanks,

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If you can place a reliable amount that you have been overcharged, and believe you have enough to prove without doubt that this is TWs fault, you should send them a bill for that amount with an abridged explanation and copies of the faulty meter report. Don't put any arguments in the letter and give them 7 working days to respond.


If they either don't respond or their response is not favourable to you, send them the same again but this time in bold across the top of the letter write 'Letter Before Action' and a last sentence giving them an amount of time to reply and saying that no further correspondence will be entered into and failure to reply in the stipulated time 'will' result in further action where you will claim all costs and the statutory 8% interest.


Any/all letters should be sent using recorded delivery.


Only do the above if you have everything together and that everything is enough to convince a judge, but don't do it if you have or might not take the action threatened.


The amount you are claiming isn't great so to issue a summons will cost around £50 which of course you would claim back. You can even do it on line - MCOL


If you would like to complain to the CEO in person, his email is - [email protected]

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You are best off handling this yourself. There is a regulator - but you will be better off if you keep control of the problem.


Has this impacted upon your credit file?


How much are we talking about here?


I'd like to know what correspondence have you got?

Have they agreed in writing that there was a meter fault?

Have you got written confirmation in respect of the other two meters as well?

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thank you.

I have every fact and figure at my fingertips. I can argue every unit consumed !! Plus I have travel details which show absence from the premises. I will concoct a letter later and revert back here.

Have a nice afternoon xx

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Yes they wrote the meter was faulty.

They removed another and confirmed in writing.

The third meter did not register a single unit for ages, and the next bill had a different meter number so assume it was faulty and they changed it without advising.

re: my credit rating - it is shot to death anyway !!

I have a large file with correspondence regarding all meters. Also had site visits. One TW employee admitted he had been told to find a leak on my premises so they did not have to admit to a faulty meter !!


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But have they added to your credit file?


Please will you hold off writing until tomorrow as I may be able to flag this up to someone.


Any chance that you could email me your contact details to our admin email address.

Put TW in the subj line

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  • 3 years later...

Frederickson have been inundating me with calls and letters re an alleged debt to TW.

I need to check my records on this.

However, I pay a large monthly sum to TW anyway.

So every month £50 is sent by transfer, irrespective of water consumption.

I do this so that I have a record of always sending them £s and that, hopefully, I do not have arrears.

I have not had a bill from TW in ages.

Can I just write to Freds and tell them that as I pay monthly

they can not threaten me with debt collection and court???

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  • 3 years later...


I pay £10/month to TW by direct debit.

They just debited £260.

I checked my account on-line and it says this is now my monthly amount payable.

I've had nothing in writing/ no discussion with them/ can't possibly be consuming that amount of water monthly.

It must be an error.

Can I notify my bank and get an immediate refund?

And contact TW and tell them to rectify the amount back to where it was?


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are you on a meter?



please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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And I did a quick check of on-line previous bills.

Consumption has gone up a bit - which I will query as I have had faulty meters before.  But usage doesn't equate to this bill or their new requested monthly amount.

Edited by HP Mum
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