Disputed Utility Bills

  jack 10:13 24 Feb 2009

My daughter is having a punch up with the water co., who dumped on her a bill for £350 or so.
It appears, they say, that her DD was stopped a year or so a go,- but not by her, but by another party- a mysterious 'ms Clarke'- I took up the cudgels on her behalf and asked for a complete breakdown of activity - rather then a peremptory 'red'- demand.
This is still in 'process' it seems
But yesterday she received a bill for 1 year advance payment plus the 'arrears'
Since when do we pay in advance for utilities?
Looks like a job for Offwat to me

  Pine Man 10:31 24 Feb 2009

The reason for asking for payment in advance is probably because she is so far in arrears.

  birdface 10:47 24 Feb 2009

If her Direct debit was stopped she must have known that it was not being deducted from her bank account.Maybe she should have contacted them herself or at least put the money away so that she could pay the bill when it arrived.
Maybe the water company could come to an arrangement as it was not her fault to add both bills together and pay monthly for both of them instead of the one payment.

It is always better to ask politely.If you go in looking for an argument they will probably tell you that you have to pay bill as soon as possible.

  WhiteTruckMan 11:00 24 Feb 2009

to ask the bank some rather pointed questions as to why they stopped the DD just because some stranger told them to, and why they didnt verify the instructions with the account holder.


  jack 11:47 24 Feb 2009

So far no one has come up with a reasonable response.
The water co- I wrote asking for a. account breakdown from the year she moved in [1999]and to explain the the stoppage by the mysterious ms Clarke. Also if proved to adjust the account on a new DD- On the telephone the operator OK'ed it
But all she gets is the 'Red's -two departments not communicating it seems.
On her behalf[She is registered disabled] I have spoken to their legal dept- who agreed once more to the original request- and instead we get the latest missive.

  spuds 12:44 24 Feb 2009

As you say, take the matter up with Ofwat click here because your or your daughter will find the true results and simple actions difficult to obtain. Its not Severn Trent by the way, because if so, they have suppose to have got their act together, regarding poor customer service!.

  medicine hat 13:10 24 Feb 2009

Ms Clarke was probably trying to amend her own account and a clerical error by the chaps at the utility lead to the wrong dd being stopped. Ms Clarke would have got in a bit of a strop the next month when her dd was taken again.

I doubt I would notice if one of my utility direct debits mysteriously stopped. I hope your daughter gets it all sorted out soon.

  Forum Editor 16:25 24 Feb 2009

It sounds like an admin error on the part of the water company, and of course whatever the cause your daughter still has to pay for her water.

This has nothing to do with your bank - a direct debit mandate is simply an authority for a third party to call money from your account, the bank will make the payments if there's a valid mandate, and it will obviously not make them if the third party doesn't ask for the money. In this case the water company didn't ask for the money, because it thought the mandate had been withdraw. In that case it will wait for the end of the billing year and then ask for its money - which is what has happpened.

There's been an error, but the money is payable, and presumably your daughter accepts that fact - she's been a year without paying for water. You may be able to negotiate a deferred payment arrangement whereby your daughter pays extra by Direct Debit over the coming year, especially as the fault for non-collection lies with the company.

  Pamy 16:43 24 Feb 2009

I think that you and your daughter have to establish what she has and has not paid and if she does owe any money and how much. If she does owe money then you/she must negotiate payment with the water co. and re establish payment methods. You /she must know what has been paid.

  jack 19:44 24 Feb 2009

She has had the Water so has to pay
But getting the Water co to communicate instead of simply pressing the 'Red Button' seems to be an Herculean task

  Forum Editor 22:51 24 Feb 2009

These utility companies are like oil tankers - they take miles to stop or to turn around, yet it can be done with a degree of perseverance.

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