Thames Water charged me for enough water to make 1m cups of tea | Water bills

I’m writing to you out of desperation. I live in London with my husband and baby and we have received a £1,100 bill from Thames Water for our two-bedroom flat.

We moved into the flat in early 2023 and the latest bill says we used £803 of water in the five months up to the end of September. We also still owe £300 from the previous bill.

I have been calling Thames Water almost every day since last March to try to fix this problem. It sent an engineer who said when our meter was changed it was mislabelled. I think I’m being billed for my neighbour who lives in a three-storey house.

That was months ago, and even though Thames Water acknowledges the problem, it hasn’t done anything. In November it told me it would be sorted out within 10 working days.

I’ve now sent it a written complaint and contacted the Consumer Council for Water for help. How difficult can it be to fix this and recalculate my bill? Why has it taken almost a year?

EI, London

That’s a good question. Experiences such as this do little to assuage people’s concerns about switching to a water meter given the choice (you weren’t, because Thames Water is one of a handful of companies with legal powers to fit meters because it serves a water-stressed region).

The bill glibly advises you that the 274 cubic metres it claims you used between 19 April and 29 September was enough to make 1.1m cups of tea. You like tea but not that much. At roughly £800, your five-month bill was almost double last year’s average (£448) annual charge for a household in England and Wales. It is patently obvious that something is wrong.

After we contacted Thames Water your complaint was escalated and an engineer returned. A spokesperson said: “We are very sorry to EI for the incorrect water bill she has received and for any distress this may have caused. Our engineers have investigated and confirmed that she was wrongly billed for her neighbour’s water use, following the incorrect installation of meters at her property.

“Our teams have installed a new meter and will take a new reading in order to issue an accurate bill. We have paused her billing since December and this will continue to be the case until we calculate the correct bill. We will also issue a goodwill gesture for the inconvenience caused and fully accept EI did not receive the high levels of service we strive for.”

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