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..
We definitely had a letter a couple of years ago explaining that the charge would be metered after two years, or we could opt for metered billing sooner if we wanted. To help with that decision, your online account lets you see the actual metered usage.
I agree that they haven't handled subsequent communication very well, but I don't really have an issue with paying for the water we actually use and there being a good incentive for people not to waste water.
There was a survey back in 2014 suggesting that a third of the UK population leaves the tap running while brushing teeth. Why on earth would you do that?
Hi Nick; I complained to Consumer Council for Water and this was the response that I received.
Dear Mr Cowling,
Thank you contacting us in relation to your complaint against Thames Water regarding their Smart Metering programme.
It is my understanding that you are unhappy that Thames Water had provided misleading information to suggest the meter installation was a trial and you were unaware that at the end of the two years that the meter was compulsory. You have raised the point to why a trial would be introduced if they were going to compulsory meter anyway.
As your water company does operate a universal metering program they have the right to install a water meter wherever possible by powers granted to them by the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) under the Water Industry Prescribed Conditions 1999, which you can find a copy of here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3442/regulation/3/made
Defra asked companies operating within these stressed areas in London and the South East to provide plans for how they intended to economise the use of water in their area in order to reduce the demand on the water table over the next 15 years to 2030, taking into account the estimated increase of the population in the area during that time.
One part of the strategy that was provided was compulsory metering of the area, which based on our research, on average, reduces water use by 10% for metered households versus unmetered households which led to a similar reduction in water bills for households that switched to a meter. This is why CCWater fully endorses water meters as a fairer way to pay in that you only pay for the water you actually use.
The area that your water company operates within has been deemed an area of extreme water stress by both Defra and the Environment Agency. They have been granted the power to compulsorily meter their customers. Because of this they are allowed to install meters without prior consultation where they have access to the pipework that will not require permission of access from the customer such as on the external stop tap.
The government does encourage water companies to consider compulsory metering as a tool to help manage the demand for water, with a view to achieving full meter coverage by 2030. The Environment Agency believes that companies in the South East of England where water resources are already under the most stress should be working towards near universal metering by 2020.
I understand you have concerns regarding the information that is given to customers and you were under the impression that the meter installation was subject to being a trial and that you could decide if you wanted to remain on Rateable Value charges. Thames Water have explained within the final response that a letter was sent to you on 27 June 2016 explaining that they were looking to install smart meters and the meter was installed on 11 October 2016.
Although you continued to pay charges on rateable value the meter was still recording the usage and every couple of months would compare the difference in the payments. Thames Water have taken this approach with all customers who are subject to the compulsory metering programme. It is a way of phasing customers in to the idea of having a meter and the difference in the cost and use water more efficiently. In our experience, we have not known Thames Water to refer to this as a trial.
The Water Industry Act 1991 is clear that the meter is the property of the water company and therefore the water company are within their rights to use whichever type of water meter they choose. I regret therefore that CCWater is unable to achieve the outcome that you had hoped for, but I hope that the above has been helpful in explaining why we have come to this position.
However, if you are not happy with the resolution to your case, you may wish to take your case to the Water Redress Scheme (WATRS). You have up to six months from the date of this letter to do so.
WATRS is a free and independent dispute resolution scheme that customers can use to obtain a final decision in a dispute with a water or sewerage company if they are not satisfied after CCWater’s involvement. WATRS aims to make a decision about a case within 25 working days of an application being accepted, and if you choose to accept its decision this will be binding on Thames Water. For more information please see WATRS' factsheet, here:https://www.ccwater.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/WATRS-fact-sh... You can apply directly to WATRS, using the application form on its website or if you would like I can start the process for you. If you would like me to do this please let me know within the next month.
Your CCWater file will now be closed. Following the conclusion of your complaint you may be called for feedback by a market research company called ORS. If you would prefer not to be contacted please let me know.
Thank you for sharing. As always big company’s get to do what they like and get away with it. I am clear that I accept that they have a legal right but I agree they also have a moral obligation to advise people what they are doing. I was not told that they had started charging by meter until after they started. It’s very strange because after my complaint to Thames water I then received the letter stating my old account was closed and a new metered account opened. Regrettably due to illness our bill is gong to be high so I’m going to apply for their water sure program. I am still angry that a lot of people will just get charged by meter without knowing and most people budget for what they know they know they pay and may end up being in a mess if they use more water then they paid before.