Why is Thames Water so eager for me to switch to a water meter?

I wondered whether staff get a bonus for getting people to convert but I’m not keen after a trial some years ago

Why is Thames Water so keen to get me to change to a water meter?

Each month it is telling me how our water usage would result in a bill considerably less than my current annual water bill. I have never heard of a commercial company trying to get me to reduce my bill before.

Do staff get some sort of bonus for getting people to convert? I know it is supposed to be greener but when I did a trial some years ago my bill would have been higher than the water rates I was content to pay.

I’d appreciate your observations on this. It can’t just be me that it is trying to persuade.

IH, London

This in an interesting one given households in England and Wales are facing the biggest increase in water bills in almost two decades, with the typical water bill set to increase to an average of £448 a year from April, a rise of 7.5%.

Unmetered customers in England and Wales are billed a fixed amount each year based on the rateable value of their property (in Scotland it is based on your council tax band). But whether a water meter will save you money depends, of course, on how much water you use. There is a useful calculator on the Consumer Council for Water website to do the maths.

If you get a meter you are usually entitled to a two-year trial and if it doesn’t work out to go back to unmetered use. But Thames Water is one of five water companies with legal powers to fit meters and there is no going back if one is fitted as part of its smart meter rollout because the programme is compulsory.

Thames Water says: “The south-east of England is a water-stressed region and we need to act now to protect our future resources. There is no monetary bonus that we receive for moving customers over to a smart meter.”

Customers are not charged on a metered account until one year after their device has been activated. Thames Water then sends letters at the three-, six- and 10-month mark, showing what they would pay based on their metered use compared with their current bill.

As you say, it is unusual for a business to invite you to pay less but the reality is some metered bills will fall but others will rise and, as with energy use, households will be forced to make changes.

“These letters give customers the information to decide whether they want to switch early and save money straight away or time to find ways to save water and reduce their bill in the future,” Thames Water explains.

You shared the estimated bill it sent you and if you switch to metered bills it drops from a whopping £928 to £515 (the average bill for a Thames Water customer is £423). This is obviously a massive saving and seems like a no-brainer given your household is probably destined to have a meter anyway.

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


Zoe Wood

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
Thames Water billed us £1,000 for a mystery leak
We used to pay £400 but we suspect the cause is a recently installed smart meter

Anna Tims

01, Dec, 2021 @7:00 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
Thames Water filed our home under ‘commercial’ premises
They did it without any explanation and now we’ve been paying two companies

Rebecca Smithers

28, Oct, 2019 @6:00 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
How to switch to a water meter
Installing a water meter saves money on energy and water bills – here's how you can make the switch

Donna Ferguson

08, Jul, 2014 @11:44 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

Article image
Thames Water steps back from regulator revolt
UK’s largest water firm opts not to join rebellion against Ofwat’s crackdown on profit levels

Jillian Ambrose

14, Feb, 2020 @1:04 PM