Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

just found out today that compulsory water metering started in my street and many others from 9th January 2019. We received no letter saying it was starting that date and all I got was a sorry from Thames Water. This is dreadful at least tell people. And for anyone with a disability or low income the is a scheme which you can apply for which caps the total usage but they only tell you if you complain..

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Yes we are compulsory now also, they tried to say that we would save money via a meter but it just causes stress when you don’t know how much your bill is going to be and overall my bills are a lot more... I’m not sure how much of Harringay is affected by this? 

The scheme you mention is called Water Sure and can be applied for through Thames Water: Watersure

I had a water meter put in about 18 months ago (I'm in Woodlands Park Road). It is under the access plate in the pavement outside our home, and I can access it. There was no disruption involved in putting it in. Our water bills have plummeted as a result, as we are charged on what we use - and we try to be economical with our water use - rather than on an estimate based on the size of our house. We pay by monthly direct debit, as we do with most other utility bills etc, so we know exactly how much we are paying, and when the payments are made, so there is no stress. I appreciate other people's experience may differ, but nonetheless it remains the case that the way to save money on water bills is to have a meter and to consciously try to be economical in use of water. The same applies, of course, to gas or electricity bills.

I’ve had a water meter for years in all properties I’ve been in and the bills are SO much lower with one. I would always request one in future personally as despite now being a family of four (with a husband who loves a bath and probably has one 3-4 times a week at least) we are still saving money with the meter.

What I’m upset about is that should they not have sent a reminder letter stating metering has started? Apparently compulsory meter starts 2 years after the meter was put in and I would have been told. Do I remember what happened 2 years ago? My bill is estimated as a lot higher because we are both sick , have nurses and carers in and out all day. I tend to bath as my water pressure is low but when I complain nothing is done. This area is classed as a stress water areayet Thames water waste so much in leaks. I believe bring it back to public ownership like all essential utilities and services should be. 

Dear Nick;  I totally agree with you.  I believe I was tricked into it two years ago.  I was told it was a trial.  You say you don't remember what happened two years ago.  I said the same thing to them when I contacted.  I think it was a taktik they use. I don't want to go to the meter because I think we'll be worse off in the long run.  Regardless, I think I was lied to and that's what bothers me.  Tell people the truth.  Don't tell people that it's a trial when it's actually compulsory.  I wrote a letter and got at response which I will post here.  I will be taking this up with the Ombudsman.  I don't think Thames Water went about it in the correct way.  I wanted to share it here so that others can read Thames Water's reply.  In it's response, I don't believe that figure as I had a major leak in the trial period where water was dripping for a solid month and my bill went down.  How can that been.  People might say that you're saving a lot of money.  In the short term that might be right, but I don't think that will be the case in the long run.  I've put in bold where Thames Water says it is a compulsory programme.  Why then did it sell it to me as a trial?

This is my letter to Thames Water.  I will send Thames Water's response on another page as there wasn't enough room.  

Dear Sir/Madam;

I am writing to you because I recently learned that I am now on a water meter and I am not happy about it. I received a letter in mid-December terminating my former contract and initiating the one for my new water meter. I was confused because I told Thames Water that although I had agreed to an initial trial, I decided after the trial period that I didn’t want one. It was not advantageous to me.

I was also told when I was initially contacted about that trial that I was under no obligation to sign up to it after it was over. So, you can imagine my surprise when this letter turned up.

It’s only now that I find out that it was a two year trial period and that I after that I was obligated to change to the metered system. I honestly have to say that I not very happy about it. If you can send me the documentation that I actually signed up for this, I would appreciate it.

The person on the phone in the complaints department who I recently talked to did apologise, but, I’m sorry, that is just not good enough. I find it too easy nowadays for people to apologise without actually doing anything to rectify the problem. He also said that because the water meter was situated outside, Thames Water would have installed it anyway. I’m sorry but if Thames Water was going to do it anyway, why I did you put me through this process of giving me a trial period. Had I know that it was only a two year trial period, I would never, never had agreed to it. I feel that I was lied to and conned into it by Thames Water.

I totally understand that Thames Water has to save money, but the onus shouldn’t be solely on an owner if and when a problem occurs. Just so you know, I belong to HomeServe and I have a Leakbot in my house. I have a current situation where I have a small leak in the house. I got a call from Leakbot to discuss the situation. The earliest appointment was in 10 days from the initial call. Who pays for that water? Clearly, if you’re people can’t get to me until 10 days after a report of a leak, Thames Water should pay for that water regardless of much or how little water was wasted. I’ll give you another example. In February 2018, I had a leak in my house which caused damage to the room below. It took four HomeServe engineers and more than three weeks to fix the problem. In the meantime, the water poured out of the leaky pipe the entire time. If I had had a meter at the time,

who would have paid for this water? Clearly, Thames Water should be responsible of this and not me. Would these issues be dealt with on a case by case basis? Please let me know.

I am really, really annoyed about this. As I already mentioned, I really feel conned. Yes, it was two years ago and I may have forgotten what exactly I signed up to but, as I mentioned, I would never have agreed to the meter had I known there was an automatic sign up after two years. While it may have been in the fine print, which people don’t read, the person who originally got in touch with me should have made it very clear to me what I was getting into in this case. Is Thames Water banking on people not reading the fine print? Were the employees given a bonus if they signed up so many people? You can say maybe he/she did tell me that I was obliged to sign up after two years. I can also say maybe he/she didn’t tell me that information.

I even received comparisons letter since that time too and I wondered why. I never paid attention to them as I declined to sign up to have a water meter. I kept wondering why I was getting them because I said that I didn’t want one. I just thought that it was Thames Waters way of continuing to keep selling it to me in the hopes that I would eventually agree to it. Why would I have thought otherwise as I didn’t want the meter in the first place.

I look forward to hearing from your regarding my complaint. I also look forward to seeing the document that I signed in regards to being obliged to sign up for a water meter in due course. In the meantime, I will be sending this letter to Ofwat to also voice my concerns.

This is the response I received from Thames Water to my letter.  

7 January 2019

Our Ref: 33388144

Smart Metering Programme.

Dear Mr Cowling

I’m writing in response to your email dated 25 December 2018, and your subsequent conversation with your case manager, Wendy Brathwaite, about our Smart Metering Programme (SMP).

You’ve requested your complaint is reviewed in line with our complaints procedure, as detailed in our Quality Promise leaflet, viewable via the link at the bottom of this email. I have carried out a full and final review of your complaint, in line with our complaints procedure and I’m replying on behalf of our Customer Experience Director, Kelly MacFarlane.

I’m sorry you were unable to use the link ‘thameswater.co.uk/contactus’ to get in touch with us. I’ve checked the link, and it appears to be working. When you click onto it, you can then click the ‘other’ icon, and the ‘email us’ icon that appears below it, to send us an email through our contact form.

Our metering reasons

Water supplies in the south east of England are seriously stretched, and during very dry periods the demand for water in parts of our region is already higher than the amount of water available. It is our responsibility to provide all our customers with a reliable watersupply and we know the situation will get more difficult as the population grows and our climate changes. So we’re updating the way we manage our water supplies by gradually fitting smart meters across our region.

This will give everyone an incentive to use water wisely, and it will also mean we can track leaks remotely. This will make us more efficient as we can find and fix these leaks quicker, meaning there’s less wastage.

Smart meters will be fitted for anyone who can be metered, and does not already have a meter fitted at their home or if you have an older meter, this will be exchanged. This is a compulsory programme, and not optional.

Our legal powers

Our powers to install meters can be found in Section 162 (works in connection with metering) of the Water Industry Act 1991. These regulations were amended in 2007, when provision relating to water stress was introduced. This allows for the Secretary of State to grant approval for compulsory metering in areas under serious water stress.

The Secretary of State has declared the Thames Water region to be an area of water stress, and approved our Water Resources Management Plan in July 2012. Smart Metering is a part of this plan. You rights as a customer, and our rights as a water company can be found in the House of Commons briefing paper.

OFWAT have produced a leaflet titled – Water meters-your questions answered. This can be accessed online. Please refer to pages 19 and 20 which confirm that as you live in water stressed area the Government has allowed compulsory metering as part of our plan to maintain secure water supplies and that we are allowed to install a meter and charge you according to how much water you use.

You’ve requested a copy of the documentation you signed to accept a Smart Meter. I’m unable to provide this to you, because as detailed above, this is a compulsory programme.

Identifying leaks with your Smart Meter

Smart Meters allow us to spot leaks quickly, and put you in control of your water bill. Smart Meters give us the ability to do this by collecting meter readings automatically, so you won’t have to read the meter yourself, or send it in to us.

When you have a water meter, your charges are based on the water passing through it, whether it’s used by you, or wasted due to a leak. In cases where a leak’s been identified, and repaired, we offer a leak allowance.

A leak allowance is a rebate added to your account as a credit, and this is the equivalent cost of the extra water, and/or wastewatercharges as a result of the leaked water.

We calculate the allowance by estimating how much water was lost through leakage during the ‘leak period’, and by taking two meter readings taken after the leak’s been fixed.

To estimate how much water was lost, we look at the typical consumption where there is no leakage, and use the Average Daily Usage (ADU) to work out how much should’ve been used during the leak period. The allowance is the difference in volume between what should’ve been used, and the usage recorded through the meter.

When we’ll apply a leak allowance:

  • A non-visible leak is fixed within six weeks of it being identified, or firm arrangements were made to fix the leak within the six week period

  • Because the meter is leaking

  • The leak’s on an internal underground pipe between the water meter, and the point where the pipe enters the property

We won’t apply a leak allowance when there’s an internal visible leak. More information about identifying leaks can be found on our website at thameswater.co.uk/leaks.

Your unmeasured bills

We’ve been previously billing you on a fixed charge, called Rateable Value (RV). This charge is based on your home, and not the amount of water you use. The RV charge was set up by an independent District Valuer, for Local Authorities, in the 1970s, and was based on the area you live in, and your proximity to local amenities. We adopted these charges from the Local Authorities when we started billing, and have used them ever since.

We believe that being billed on a meter, for your exact water usage, is the fairest and most economical way to bill. However, we also understand all of our customer’s circumstances are different, which is why we’ve always left the decision to have a meter fitted with them. As you know, this is something that has changed with the introduction of the Smart Metering Programme (SMP).

 

Smart Metering Journey

Our metering team sent you a letter on 27 June 2016, to advise you we were starting work in your area to install our Smart Meters. As requested, I’ve attached a copy of this letter for your reference.

The above letter also came with a booklet advising about our Smart Meters, and why we’re fitting them. The information contained within this booklet can be viewed online by clicking here.

As part of our pre-work checks, our engineers visited your area to see if they could install a meter at your home, without disturbing you. On their visit they found a meter pit was present in the footpath, and the works to install your new Smart Meter were completed on 11 October 2016.

As your meter was fitted through our SMP, you weren’t charged on a metered account until two years after your meter was activated, unless you’d opted to switch sooner. This allowed you time to adjust to your smart meter, and gave you the comfort of knowing your bills wouldn’t change straight away.

We wrote to you on 23 November 2016 to let you know we’d activated your meter, and then began sending you comparison letters showing what you could pay on your meter, compared to your RV bill. These were sent at three, six, twelve and eighteen months after the activation of the meter. I’ve attached copies of these letters to this email for your records.

These letters gave you the information to help you decide if you wanted to switch early, or find ways to save water and reduce your bill in the future before being compulsorily switched at the end of your journey, on 12 December 2018.

I note you were under the impression our Smart Metering Journey was only a trial period. I’m sorry you feel you were misinformed about this, and are unhappy with the information given to you by my colleague when you called our Customer Service Contact Centre.

However, when we first got in touch about fitting your water meter, we explained in our booklet we’d automatically switch you to your metered charges two years after it was activated. Therefore, we’ll continue to bill you based on the recorded usage of your Smart Meter.

Benefits of a Smart Meter

Our Smart Meters also give you greater control of your water costs. On average people with meters use 12% less water than customers on a fixed rate charge.

In your email you’ve stated a water meter is not advantageous to you. However, the attached bill comparison letters, show at one year, you could’ve saved £87.88 by being billed on a water meter, compared to your previous un-metered RV tariff.

During the two year comparison journey, you would’ve saved £166.63, had you switched before the two year comparison journey ended.

Water saving freebies

We offer our customers a number of free water saving devices, to help you reduce your water usage at home. You can apply online by clicking here. They are completely free, and we also offer free delivery on them too.

 Our final decision

I’ve carefully reviewed your complaint about our Smart Metering Programme, and hope this email clearly explains our position. We’ve carried out all the necessary investigations and our decision hasn’t changed, and is detailed above. For this reason, there is nothing to be gained by further communication and we will not write to you again about this particular issue. However, we’re happy to continue supporting you in all other areas.  

I understand this may be disappointing. I’ve included a link to our Quality Promise leaflet, which includes contact details for the Consumer Council for Water, should you wish to ask them for advice.

Yours sincerely

Jamie Antal

Customer Relations

Thank you for sharing. I agree and would be curious to see what the Ombudsman replies to you. They did not tell anyone they were switching over. I just got the same letter saying my water contract was now closed which made me contact them. I do remember being told that I had 2 years before change but surely a letter to say they were starting 2 years later would have been appropriate. When I telephoned I got a call centre based in South Africa who told me it was voluntary . I was puzzled so rang the following day and spoke to another person in the UK who said it was. Regrettably there is legislation which I’ve checked which says if you live in a stressed area metering is compulsory. However I do not agree that Haringey is more stressed than other areas and if it is the reason is that Thames water loses 40 % of water through leaks which they should address. All this is , is Thames water now owned by a foreign company trying to raise more money for share holders and pay for their constant fines. Thames water are disgusting in their attitude. Bring back all essential utilities and services back into public hands..

You can see if you qualify for the Water Sure scheme here

https://www.thameswater.co.uk/my-account/billing-and-payment/Help-p...

It caps the water bill at £383.

This is review yearly and the terms are unfair. We use a lot of water due to illness and nurses, carers, and so forth visiting several times a day. Wonder if 10 Downing Street has a water meter

The scheme seems to have provisions for people with long term medical conditions 

Our Thames Water meter leaked a few months after they installed it, had to have a total kitchen rebuild - drying machines, floor up, new tiles, new cabinets, etc..
They wouldn't take any responsibility and said it must have been bumped. Had to claim on home insurance instead.

Ask for an external one instead. They'll say no but they'll fit it in the end, thats why my next door neighbour did.

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