Saturday, 13 August 2011

Thames Water - Overcharging

Tescco kept overcharging me - I shop elsewhere
British Gas overcharged me - I changed supplier
Santander messed up my savings - I moved to another bank

Thames Water has a Monopoly
Thames Water in numbers
Profit 2010 £208m
Highest Paid Director 2010 (CEO Martin Baggs) £1.67m
£1.67m pay = £6,153 per day

If you live in Thames Water's area you must pay them for your water.

In the UK, unless a meter is fitted, water is charged based on the the rateable value of the property. Rateable values were last reviewed in 1991 - 20 years ago, and have no relation to the amount of water a home uses.

So when Thames water increased their charges for my home to £570 a year I applied for a water meter. The USwitch website calculated I would pay around £280 a year for my single occupant home - a saving of £300 a year - more than 50%.

Paying for more water than I use helps Thames Water make £208m profit and allowed them to pay their Chief Executive Martin Baggs £1.67m last year - that's £6,153 a day!
I'm sure he's worth it, but the service Thames Water provide is appalling.

I applied for a meter on 22 March 2011. Thames Water aim to complete the process in 14 days, but allow themselves 60 days. My meter was fitted within around 3 weeks.

However instead of changing my billing Thames Water continue to help themselves to £57 from my bank account each month. The billing year starts in April, so to date they have collected £285 - more than the projected charge for a whole year!

When the 60 day deadline passed I emailed Thames Water on 22 June to query my billing arrangement. They replied that I would receive a response in 20 working days. I heard nothing.

Thames Water minimum service guarantee promises to pay me £30 for failure to respond to my query. So I applied for that compensation on 6 August. They promise to respond within 10 working days. I have heard nothing.

Today, 13 August, I phoned them. Thames Water agree they have failed to meet their service standards. I speak to a manager Sarah who tells me they allow 60 days to change my billing from rateable value to metered and this deadline expired on 22 June. I explain that I emailed on 22 June when the 60 days expired, but apart from a holding letter on 29th June I have heard nothing.

The manager says she can only escalate my complaint and I will receive an answer in 5 days. I ask her for the name of her Chief Executive - which she has to look up - obviously she hasn't seen him around her office any time recently.

Thames Water work fast for their £208m profit

60 days - To fit a meter

20 working days - To respond to a billing enquiry

10 working days - To respond to a compensation claim

5working days - To respond to a complaint

7 years - In 2010 TW told Ofwat it had just found 4,000 unanswered emails from 2003

I can't leave Thames Water, I can only complain to Ofwat - the regulator. In 2008 Ofwat fined Thames Water £9.7m for among other things failing to own up about the number of customer complaints.

Update: I emailed this post to Martin Baggs The Chief Executive. I received a standard reply the last line of which reads:

Our Vision: If customers had a choice they would choose Thames Water.

Hilarious. There's no humility inside a monopoly.


Anonymous said...

How about their blasted Supersewer?! we are all getting charged for it and Ofwat was even against it in the first place. They have admitted now that it will costs us 4 billion but t will end up to cost a lot more. Not to count that Thames Water has targeted several London parks to build their massive septic tank (because that's all it is!!). We need more green space to soak rainwater and these buffoons go and ask to concrete over our parks?! In America, where they have build such tunnels they are all saying they are CRAP! They haven't fixed any problems and actually now when they are full they cause a lot more trouble and severe flooding. And all this bullshit about fish dying because poo gets in the river is just propaganda: the biggest fish-kills were caused by chemical escaped by Thames Water treatments plants (like in Mogden) and not by CSO along the river. Liars!!

Anonymous said...

What is Martin Baggs email address? I want to drop him a line too.

The Chief Executive said... is the address, although in my experience he is a chief executive who gets others to respond.