About the client
Sophia is a private tenant who moved here from overseas a number of years ago with her three older children. She earns little money as a cleaner but does not receive any benefits. Ever since she moved into the flat, she’s been trying to sort out a leak where the water meter was installed, just outside her home. She got in touch with Citizens Advice Southampton who advised her to contact us about her water bills.
What did Sophia need help with?
Sophia pays her water bills by monthly direct debit but had recently stopped the payments because of an unusually high bill. The water bills had been causing her distress and frustration ever since she moved into the property. Although engineers from the water company had visited numerous times, water continued to escape. We booked an office appointment for Sophia to see if we could get to the bottom of this leaky problem.
How we were able to help Sophia
Sophia’s daughter joined her at the office appointment to help with translations. Speaking to the client and sifting through her water bills, it became apparent that Sophia was dealing with a persistent leak. Any time a meter reading was taken – generally once a year – the bills would spike because of the discharge around the water meter box. An engineer from the water company would be called out, tinker with the pipes and fittings, then close the case. The bill would be reissued with a leakage allowance applied for that year, and the company would produce a best guess of the household’s water use. This happened on three occasions – once for every year that Sophia was in the property.
As the leak was the water company’s responsibility, we called them to find out if it could be permanently fixed. Engineers had been in just a couple of weeks prior and the customer service representative assured us that the latest work, which involved replacing the stopcock, had solved the problem. Sophia had not seen the water meter since the engineers had been out and had no way of verifying that statement at the time. The water company suggested she perform a Tap Test to see for herself that the leak had stopped; if the meter was still spinning 20 minutes after the water was turned off, Sophia would need to call the water company again to report the leak. After speaking with the water company, Sophia agreed to have her direct debit reinstated with her bills reduced to reflect a lower estimated usage.
Savings and outcomes
- Sophia’s water bills now reflect a lower household water consumption rate, reducing her bills by about £30/month.
- By speaking to the water company, we were also able to cancel the £45 debt collection fee.
- In addition, the water company added £50 to the account as a goodwill gesture.
“The advisor’s service was exemplary, she is very professional, kind, patient and knew how to handle the problem perfectly.”
Get in touch
If you have a family member, friend or neighbour who could benefit from our help, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email email@example.com to speak to an advisor.