'Water firm took £1,500 from me – but won't give it back'

Castle Water blames Thames Water and has held up my money for more than six months

Over a year ago, I lived in a flat and paid my water bills to Thames Water. After I left, my account was sold as part of a bundle of business water accounts to Castle Water.

This was an error since my flat was a residential address. I had already paid all my water bills. Incredibly, Castle Water then took a series of payments from my bank account totalling around £1,500.

Castle Water said it would shut down my “account” and that a cheque would be in the post. No cheque arrived. Two weeks later, I was told the same thing. I waited another month, only to be told that my request for a refund had been rejected more than three weeks earlier.

Castle Water said it needed Thames Water to prove it had made a mistake in selling my old account as a business account, when it had been a fully paid-up and closed household account.

Castle Water has now held my money for more than six months. This fiasco is entirely unfair. The dispute is between Castle Water and Thames Water. KH, London

This is shocking – a company with which you had no contractual relationship has wrongly taken a huge amount of money out of your bank account and, apparently, shown little interest in returning it.

You are one of a number of people caught up in the purchase of Thames Water’s business accounts by Castle Water – other readers have also complained.

After we took up your case, Castle Water did get its act together and quickly repaid the £1,500, but it has refused any compensation or to cover the potential lost interest. This, we would argue, should have been paid as an absolute minimum – the company’s attitude has been far too complacent.

It has suggested it is for Thames Water to compensate you but, again, it does not appear to have pursued it. It says: “It was not until April that the customer told us she had already paid her water bills to Thames Water for this address. Had we had the opportunity, we would have refunded the customer’s money at an earlier date.”

Castle Water started in Scotland, but has bought water businesses in London and Portsmouth. Accounts filed at Companies House reveal that Castle Water Holdings Ltd is registered to an address in the British Virgin Islands.

In March, it was warned to address “unacceptable levels of customer complaints” by the Consumer Council for Water. It accounted for 44% of complaints CCW received in the non-household market.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions.


Miles Brignall

The GuardianTramp

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