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MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN - LITERALLY
Water in general
Member Name: sue.51
Water in general
Date: 26/05/02, updated on 26/05/02 (1133 review reads)
Advantages: See Text
Disadvantages: Essential commodity that has to be paid for
This is a company that without a shadow of a doubt has not been without its criticisers and bad press, dogged by financial troubles, highest bills in the UK despite the heaviest rainfall (go on admit it - how many of you have ever driven over the Severn Bridge and not found it raining?), more changes of ownership than ITV Digital and Swansea City Football Club, and most importantly, poor infrastructure which apparently results in them losing more water than the North & South Poles together from Global warming.
Up until now, like many domestic customers, I have paid for water over a 10 month period, April to January, at a pre-set amount.
At my last house, this was around £350/year, irrespective of the amount of water used - a high cost for something which is most definitely NOT a luxury, but one of the most basic commodities required by man (not to mention all the pets and goldfish) in order to survive. Face it, without clean water you would become pretty ill rather quickly, we only have to look at the jabs required to travel to some 3rd World countries with poor sanitation to confirm that, without any water, you will undoubtedly die quickly and not very pleasantly.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
Dwr Cymru supplies water to all of Wales and a good few areas of England - I was a bit miffed once to discover that people in some areas of the Midlands actually enjoy a cheaper supply than us for their water, despite the fact that it is being transported from Wales, although not necessarily by Dwr Cymru.
The company has 1.2 million household customers and s
upplies over 110,000 business customers - these figures make it the 6th largest of the 23 regulated water companies in England & Wales.
Some Interesting Facts (from their website)
· Has 84 impounding reservoirs,
· Has 106 water treatment works and
· Supplies an average 900 million litres of water every day through a network of 26,800km of water mains, including 620 pumping stations and 740 service reservoirs.
· They also collect waste-water through a network of 17,600km of sewers,
Amazing what is running around underneath your feet isn't it?
When we bought our brand new house, we were ADAMANT that there was no way we were having a water meter, and hence our first question to the sales office was just that. We were reassured that we would not have to suffer the perils and uncertainty of having a meter, and hence duly paid our £250 deposit and settled down to select all our extras (well if can say that a bathroom suite and associated tiles is extra).
5 months later we duly moved in our beloved, and long awaited new home, and as is our duty, rang all the utility companies to advise them accordingly, at which point I was asked by the operator if I could provide them with a meter reading
ME: Um, we don't have a meter
HER: I'm afraid you do Madam, ALL new houses are now fitted with water meters - this is obligatory and not open to negotiation - I WAS NOT IMPRESSED.
The sales people were very apologetic - but were apparently misinformed.
The builders cocked things up and failed to provide a meter reading for 2 months after we moved into the property, hence we were only actually metered from October last year, and this morning we got our first bill.
AAAAGGHHHH - the reason I didn't want a meter had finally appeared, and it appeared that my initial reservations about this type of payment and recording had finally been realis
ed - naturally when you first get any bill, the first thing you tend to look at is the final amount, so following a strong black coffee, I started again, and it was then I realised they had actually started billing from 0, which was incorrect.
I didn't even think about whether the call centre would be open Saturdays, I just telephoned them as I dragged myself out of bed:
The lady at the other end of the telephone was most helpful - she dug out the paperwork from the builders, explained there was confusion over the initial reading, told me where my meter would be, agreed to put the bill on hold, explained how to access the meter and check that it was in fact actually ours, and to ring them back on their FREEPHONE number to confirm the set-up, which would then sort out the initial reading based on the set up of the meter numbers which I duly did, and a new bill was despatched.
Oh well, losing points here, the bill was wrong, they still billed me from 0 and used the final builders reading as our present one - I complained, again, they were very apologetic and sent another bill, again incorrect, and another, yikes, I was losing faith in this helpful company - it was at some point during this stage that I realised I was also in credit from my account at my old address, it took them three attempts to track down this money.
However, despite all the aggro, early indications are that for last goodness knows how many years we have been paying far TOO MUCH for our water and naturally we have the scope to reduce this further.
The annual charge for a 3 member household with Bath, shower and three toilets will be between £240 - £300 annually, chargeable six monthly, although accounts can be settled by direct debit or payment book, just like those on a fixed rate.
I do not think this is too bad a cost considering we also run a dishwasher and washing machine and I have a bath and wash my hair at least once a day - the ot
her two prefer a daily shower.
We have of course been conscious of having a meter, and hence don't use the hose pipe very often, probably about once a fortnight -but I must admit I still pleasantly surprised and very relieved.
Welsh Water also regularly issue instructions on how to keep the cost of your water bill down, by restricting use of hose-pipes, taking showers instead of baths, looking for leaks from your piping systems (your side of the meter only), and the unseen cost of dripping taps - we still have one of these despite numerous requests to the builders to come and sort it out for us.
Charges are actually calculated on 95% of your usage and differ between normal water and sewerage services.
Did you know also that if the water on your property does not run into the public sewers, you can claim a reduction on your annual bill? this applies whether on a fixed rate or a water meter.
For those properties without a water meter, they can be fitted and there is a cooling off period of about 6 months - there is a charge for installation. If you buy a new home, touch, you don't have a choice - and I know from family and friends that not everyone has as extortionate water rates as Welsh Water - so check out all your options before you change.
If you have any doubts about the functionality of your water meter, you can request your supplier to come out and check it for you, but there will be a charge.
The company has an on-line facility, where customers can
· Submit general enquiries
· Pay their bills (For water maters these should be paid within 14 days of the invoicing date - for books, 1st working day of the financial year or monthly 1st working day of the month - Apr - Jan or they now also offer, I believe Apr - March)
· Submit an accurate meter reading (one of their representatives will read your meter a minimum of once yearly)
ange your personal details
Water Bills can also be settled through GiroPay following links from the Post Office Counters website and also your local council if they subscribe to GiroPay for paying Council Tax.
The bill is mighty complicated, and you will be charged for 95% of the water used according to your meter.
Welsh Waters prices increased as of the 1st April, and according to Welsh Water, there will not now be a subsequent price increase until 31st March 2005, so we would expect our next bill to be a slightly higher than this one.
The company has agreed to invest £1.2bn in its infrastructure during the same period (should see a price decrease then? Currently, metered users on a standard charge will pay £1.1616 per cubic meter used, but if you prove that the surface water from your properties does not drain in the public sewers (don't ask me how you do that) then you will only be charged £0.9711 per cubic meter used.
My other half now seems to think it would be a good idea to examine the meter after flushing the toilet/running the dishwasher etc just to establish how much water we are actually using - although if our bills remain around this level, then I for one am not going to worry too much - we are already frugal and very conscience of the fact that we have to pay for it.
If you don't settle your bill within 14 days, then Welsh Water in theory has the right to get a court order to disconnect your supply, although if you are in trouble with this, or any other water company, don't let it get to this level, it is an essential commodity for life.
THEIR SERVICE PROVISION
With every bill, and through other correspondence, Welsh Water distribute information leaflets that advise you of their policies, and compensation limits they will pay you, if they fail in a whole range of promises they may make: - an example is, if they interrupt your supply for more than 4
hours without providing you with at least 48 hours notice, then they will pay you £50, likewise, if they don't restore your supplies by the given time, you will again be entitled to a £50 payment, £20 if a complaint is not responded to within the pre-specified 10 days, there are a whole host of other reasons why they will pay you compensation in their booklet, although personally I would rather just have totally uninterrupted supply, coping without water, I think, is nigh on impossible.
· The Bill
For now I am happy, my bill appears now to be far lower than expected, and if it carries on in this vein with us being able to control our expenditure in this area, without suffering unnecessarily then I will be happy. The day started off badly, and got a lot better when my bill was reduced in half.
· Their Staff
And so far, without exception, their telephone staff have always been professional, courteous and helpful, even if they can't get your bills correct - they did agree to freeze the account until the matter was resolved.
However, be warned, if someone is buying your house, they will close your account without getting permission from you first. And if you are buying a property with a water meter, READ the meter the day you move in and don't get the hassle I had.
Want to find out more? Then visit: http://www.dwrcymru.com