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Unpaid water bill - summons

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Hi all,

 

This morning I have received court papers from Northampton Court for unpaid water bills.

 

When I first moved into this property,

after a while I realised that I hadn't received a bill for water,

 

 

i phoned Southern Water and was told that I wasn't a customer of theirs.

I told them that I was receiving water, but they insisted that I wasn't known to them.

 

I tried again a few months later as it played on my mind and was told I would be phoned back - I wasn't.

 

After a while I forgot all about it...for about 8 year!

 

They have also sent a summons to my ex-partner who left about 5-6 years ago.

 

This morning they are asking for £1800+interest.

 

I'm considering admitting the claim, as I have had the water after all, but it annoys me that they have never sent me any bills at all, and flat out told me that I wasn't a customer of theirs.

 

Before I do that, is there any defence I can submit?

 

Oh, forgot to mention that I have had debt collection agency letters recently pertaining to it, but the figures changed each time as did the agency so I thought it best to ignore them as some looked like [problem]s.

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Oh, forgot to mention that I have had debt collection agency letters recently pertaining to it, but the figures changed each time as did the agency so I thought it best to ignore them as some looked like ****s.

 

Do you have evidence of communication to them asking them to bill you ?

 

I think you need to acknowledge the court claim and advise you will defend in full to avoid getting a CCJ. Your defence is that you did not receive any bills from the claimant, even after alerting them to this fact. You therefore dispute the basis of the claim, as it is not based on billing for services provided over the period.

 

If you subsequently negotiate with them to pay for water services, then you can get them to arrange a Tomlin order which you keep to by paying over a period, therefore avoiding a CCJ.

 

Can you please provide more information from the claim form including particulars of claim.


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I'm afraid I don't. It was some years ago now and was entirely over the phone.

 

 

I was thinking along the lines of the fact that I have never had a contract with them.

I haven't ever signed anything as they told me that I wasn't a customer of theirs and have never received any bills for them.

 

 

To be fair, the same was true of BT as well, but when I phoned them, we flipped to paperless billing and that solved the problem of not getting anything in the post from them.

 

The address is a bit odd

- the postcode for this house is actually for a different road and I have had problems in the past with letters/parcels/takeaways(!) not arriving.

However, that seems unlikely for this length of time.

Edited by numpty

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Can you please provide more information from the claim form including particulars of claim.

 

 

Will do.

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When you say that the address is a bit odd, do you mean that they are using the wrong address?

 

If you do then I think you have a very good basis for resisting the claim.


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I'm afraid I don't. It was some years ago now and was entirely over the phone. I was thinking along the lines of the fact that I have never had a contract with them. I haven't ever signed anything as they told me that I wasn't a customer of theirs and have never received any bills for them. To be fair, the same was true of BT as well, but when I phoned them, we flipped to paperless billing and that solved the problem of not getting anything in the post from them.

The address is a bit odd - the postcode for this house is actually for a different road and I have had problems in the past with letters/parcels/takeaways(!) not arriving.

 

Unfortunately under the Water act, you become liable for water services when moving into a house connected to mains services and don't need a contract. When water services were privatised they made sure that people could not move into a house and get away with not having a liability due to no contract.

 

Your best way to defend is lack of billing for services as their claim is presumably based on amounts you have never been billed for. I don't think there is any limit how far they can back bill you for. But had you received details of services, you might have applied for a water meter if relevant.


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I don't know if they are or not. The address on the claim is correct (although it's different to the address at the electoral role), but as I've never received any bills from them directly, I don't know if they have sent any bills or they have the wrong address.

 

It's simply that the postcode is for a different road...my neighbours all have a different postcode to me. This has in the past been a problem, and I was throwing it out there in case they have sent bills it's just that I never received them...although, I think this is unlikely.

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Fair play (regarding the water act). It was just a thought - as they told me that I wasn't a customer.

 

It's made me think though...what if when I phoned them, they told me that because they did have the address wrong, and I obviously gave them the correct address, and therefore they couldn't find me?

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You really need to thoroughly read Southern Waters code of practice and use against them where you can.

 

https://www.southernwater.co.uk/code-of-practice-for-domestic-customers


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http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?419198-You-have-received-a-Claim-What-you-need-to-do.-**UPDATED-2016**

 

 

please fill this out

oh and don't forget

I don't think they can charge you for use outside of 6yrs


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

 

if everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's tomorrow

the biggest financial industry in the UK, DCA;s would collapse overnight.

 

 

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I'm still trying to resolve the idea of this address discrepancy.

 

If it is the water company's error then I think you have every basis for simply repaying the capital sum and avoiding the interest.

 

In that case I would pay the water company the £1800 immediately and then if they wanted, they could go into dispute for the rest.

 

I would suggest that you send them an SAR immediately.

 

Unfortunately, this takes 40 days. By that timeThe deadline for filing a defence would have expired. I would certainly post off an acknowledgement immediately – or acknowledge online.

 

If you can afford the £1800 then I think I will telephone the water company and say to them that you are going to pay that amount of money immediately and explain the problems with the addresses.

 

Tell them that you are prepared to go to court to challenge the interest and the rest but may be as a gesture, they would drop the case on payment of the £1800.

 

If it does go to court then you will also have to pay a hearing fee but even then it will cost the water company considerably more to have to go to court and deal with the hearing if you are going to defend on the issue of the wrong address.

 

However, on the basis that it is in the water company's fault, I would expect at the hearing you would probably lose. I think it is mainly now down to the goodwill of the water company if you can pay the basic sum.


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I can't pay the £1800 currently. The interest amounts to just over £15 so it's not that big a deal.

 

Like I say, I can't wholeheartedly claim they have the wrong address (at least until I receive the details of a SAR and see exactly what it is they have for this address), as I have never received anything from them - I have, however, received this summons - at the correct address (although this differs from the address on the electoral role), and had a couple of debt collection agencies letters to the same address that did arrive that I ignored as they had differing amounts in them and one even had the wrong name (it was my name, but spelled wrong and differed from the other one), so I didn't take them seriously as perhaps I should have.

 

In their terms of service (thanks for the link), it states that I can arrange to pay monthly or twice a year - both of these options have effectively been denied to me by them not contacting me and claiming that I was not a customer of theirs when I originally contacted them.

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Guest Mrs Hobbit

Is there an option for Mediation?

 

If not mediation, a Tomlin Order would be the better way to go, this will crystallise what is owed. I would defend. Shame you have no proof that you contacted them. I suppose after this time if there was any recording made of the call, it would be overwritten by now.

 

 

 

Maybe, you might be able to speak to the collections team, if you do, record the conversation and tell them if you cannot make an arrangement without going to Court, you will be defending.

 

Maybe OFWAT might be able to help.

 

I am just thinking what I would do if this was happening to me.

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In all honesty, I'm not all that worried about it - it's not really my fault, although I could have continued to badger them for a bill I suppose - so, I don't really see anything to get wound up about.

 

It it goes to court and I lose, then so be it. I have no problem with paying them for the water I've used, I'm just a bit miffed about the way they have gone about it, when it could have been avoided in the first place due to them simply sending me a bill to start with.

 

I think I will defend on the grounds that the amount claimed is in dispute due to not having been billed and therefore not being afforded the many payment options in their code of practice. I'm sure they can 'prove' that they have sent bills over the years so I don't really expect that defence to stand up sadly, despite it being the truth.

I'm not sure what I would say about ignoring the debt collection agencies letters though. I ignored them as they looked dodgy...I'm not sure how a court would see that.

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Guest Mrs Hobbit

The water company might say they have tried to make contact with you, but you ignored all attempts to put the matter right.

 

Have you read the meter today and by any chance would you have the original reading from when you moved into the house? These two readings would give a more accurate figure for what is owed. do they charge standing rates? Also there is the sewerage treatment rates to factor in. The correct water usage might be the key to getting a better figure. I guess though if you are not on a meter you not going to get those figures. if you haven't had a bill from them, you cannot know if this estimate of what you owe is correct. I would mention this in the Defence reply.

 

This is why i am wondering if mediation might be an option to get the matter settled.

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Thread moved to General Legal Issues.

 

Regards

 

Andy


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