Thames Water filed our home under ‘commercial’ premises

They did it without any explanation and now we’ve been paying two companies

Two years ago Thames Water – unilaterally and without notice – decided that the residential rental property we lived in until this August was a commercial one and transferred our account to Castle Water. We were told that it was our new provider, but not the reason behind it.

Since our direct debit was also automatically transferred, we continued to pay and didn’t think further about it. It was only when I notified Castle Water we were moving that I found out they thought we were a commercial customer. We are a family of two adults and a baby.

After receiving assurances that the mistake would be rectified and that Thames would claim the money we’ve paid to Castle, we received two bills for almost £1,000 from Thames Water.

We have not received any refunds from Castle Water so this would mean paying for our water twice. I have also sent an inquiry to the Consumer Council for Water but have received no reply yet. Our first complaint was in mid July 2019 and I haven’t heard from Thames Water for at least two weeks.

GC, London SW6

You are one of many unwittingly caught up in the acquisition of Thames Water’s (supposed) business accounts by Castle Water, which describes itself as a dedicated water retailer to business customers. Castle Water started in Scotland, but has since bought up a number of other water businesses across the UK. Clearly the reason for the transfer of accounts was not clearly communicated in your case.

Our intervention seems to have broken the logjam. Thames Water says an admin error meant your property was listed as being non-household rather than domestic so when it sold the non-household customer base to Castle Water you were switched, too.

Thames insists: “We’re sorry for any confusion but are investigating how this has occurred. We are working with Castle Water and the customer to ensure they’re not left out of pocket.”

Castle Water has now refunded you £818 – based on its tariff – but the bill from Thames Water was £874.

Thames Water is, in the meantime, offering you an instalment plan. The Consumer Council for Water says Castle Water has remained above the industry average for complaints over the last 18 months.

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 terms and conditions

Contributor

Rebecca Smithers

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Counting the cost of unknowingly sharing my neighbour’s Thames Water meter
For eight years we had been paying our own bill and that of the house two doors up

Rebecca Smithers

25, Feb, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
'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

Miles Brignall

21, May, 2018 @12:26 PM

Article image
Why is my 96-year-old mother facing a £4,800 water bill?
South West Water has overcharged her since 2015 due to an unreported leak

Rebecca Smithers

20, Aug, 2018 @6:43 AM

Article image
Do we have the right to say no to a water meter?
Thames Water is insisting we have one, but I’m not sure if they are compulsory

Miles Brignall

12, Sep, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Why did my Thames Water bill drain my bank account?
The meter they installed was charging us for the equivalent of seven households

Miles Brignall

06, May, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Under pressure to pay Thames Water arrears
Thames says I missed a direct debit in 2012 and wants me to pay £65.89

Rebecca Smithers

02, Mar, 2015 @7:00 AM

Article image
Our Thames Water meter was supposed to save money so why did bill go up?
We are a frugal family and use less than the national average per person

Rebecca Smithers

13, Nov, 2014 @7:00 AM

Article image
‘Unpaid’ Thames Water bill is sending my credit rating down the drain
It claims I have been using enough water for 80 people … when I live in a two-bed flat

Rebecca Smithers

17, Dec, 2017 @7:00 AM

Article image
When is a meter not a meter? When it’s installed by Southern Water
I could see there wasn’t one … but Southern Water kept on insisting there was!

Rebecca Smithers

14, Sep, 2015 @6:00 AM

Article image
Thames Water meter left us with ever-rising bill

We were warned that we were using industrial quantities of water – but then Thames Water told us to do nothing about it, and hit us with a bill

Miles Brignall

17, Jun, 2013 @5:59 AM