My mother, a sparky 96-year-old war veteran, has, for the past six months, been plagued with final demands from South West Water. The first was for £3,000 (two days before Christmas) followed by £800 (the week of her birthday) and then £1,000. Registered blind, she lives in a National Trust cottage in an isolated rural community in North Devon and has become increasingly anxious over this.
She appears to have been overcharged since 2015 due, I think, to an unreported water leak. Fortunately, the National Trust installed a new water pipe in April this year and her recent meter readings indicate she only uses about £10-worth a month. I calculate SWW owes her at least £500. Please help highlight the need for more “people-friendly” water policies to help some of the UK’s most invisible (and proud) elders.
If a water bill is high and you suspect a leak, report it as soon as possible to your water company. Supply pipe leaks can be your responsibility. Your company must help you find and fix the leak for free, or at a subsidised cost, if it is the first time you have reported a leak. It is also required to reduce your bill to take account of the extra water you have used because of it. But we were shocked by the scale of your mother’s mistreatment. SWW put its hand up immediately and says: “We apologise unreservedly to Mrs T and KT for the unnecessary distress and confusion we have caused by our poor handling of what should have been a straightforward case of leak identification, repair and allowance. After finding a leak and engaging throughout with the customer’s daughter and the National Trust (which owns the pipework), we failed to update Mrs T’s account. This is not the level of service we aspire to and have taken steps to ensure the administrative error is not repeated.” Your mother has received a full leak allowance – £457.90 – as a credit on her account – and a £750 cheque in recognition of the “undue stress” caused.
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