Case studies

This paper provides a brief summary of cases that have been referred to the Water Redress Scheme. The list will be added to as cases are decided upon by the Adjudicator.

Full redacted decisions are available on the Resolving Water Disputes website.

19 case studies found.

Case Study 1

Complaint Overview

The customer's mother passed away, and the customer notified the company that his solicitors would pay all outstanding bills. His solicitors did not pay the bills, and a County Court Judgment (CCJ) was made against the customer. The customer also stated that the company sent final bills and reminders to the wrong address. A further CCJ was made against the customer for the outstanding debt from his previous property.

The company accepted that a CCJ was recorded in the customer's name at his late mother's address, although this was later removed. The company acknowledged that it had no record of receiving any written notification from the customer's solicitors.

Furthermore, there was a telephone conversation with the customer as a result of which its billing records for his late mother's address were changed into the customer's name. The company stated that it attempted to bring the matter to the customer's attention before proceeding to obtain a CCJ. The company accepted that the customer did not reside at the address, and so it took steps to voluntarily set aside the CCJ. It paid the customer £50.00 as a gesture of goodwill and waived the charges in the sum of £154.70 which were correctly due for the customer's old property.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The company failed to provide a reasonable level of customer service in relation to the manner in which it dealt with the customer's complaint about his late mother's address. The adjudicator also found that the company failed to correctly notify the customer of the outstanding debt.

Remedy Awarded

£100.00

Case Study 2

Complaint Overview

The customer stated that the company overcharged him for the previous 11 years, which caused distress and financial hardship.

The company said that it began charging the customer in March 2004 and in June 2014 it found that it had charged the customer incorrectly over those years. The overcharge amounted to £420.23. The company refunded this sum, applied a further credit to the customer's account and then made offers of compensation which were refused.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company had billed and charged the customer incorrectly for a number of years and had failed to identify and rectify the error within a reasonable period of time.

The customer had not provided evidence to support his statement that the company's billing error had caused him distress or financial hardship. However, the adjudicator acknowledged that the customer was deprived of a significant sum of money over a lengthy period of time and would have been caused stress and inconvenience by this.

Remedy Awarded

£150.00

Case Study 3

Complaint Overview

The customer's claim was that the company charged him incorrectly, insisted that he was responsible for pipe work in error, and provided poor customer service. The customer was also unhappy with the position of his water meter.

The company denied that it had charged the customer incorrectly, or that it had given inaccurate information to the customer regarding the legal ownership of the pipes.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the customer had not proven that he had been charged incorrectly or that the company had incorrectly advised of his responsibility for certain pipe work. The customer's complaint related to the position of the water meter was outside the scope of WATRS.

Remedy Awarded

None

Case Study 4

Complaint Overview

The customer's claim was that the company charged him incorrectly, provided incorrect advice regarding his charges, and provided poor customer service. The customer was also unhappy that the company's employees had trespassed on his property and that it was using a lead supply pipe which affected water quality. The customer sought £5,500.00 in compensation.

The company denied that it had charged the customer incorrectly or provided the customer with incorrect advice.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company had not charged the customer incorrectly or provided incorrect advice. However, it was found that the company had failed to provide sufficiently informative responses to the customer's complaint which led to a long, drawn-out dispute.

The customer's complaint related to trespass raised a complicated issue of law which is more appropriately dealt with in an alternative forum, and the customer's complaint about water quality fell outside the scope of WATRS.

Remedy Awarded

£200.00

Case Study 5

Complaint Overview

The customer's claim was that the company should have alerted him sooner than it did that he could save money by having a water meter installed. The customer sought compensation in the sum of £2500.00 to cover overcharges he had incurred for 15 years for water provided on an unmeasured basis.

The company stated that it is only permitted to install water meters at existing residential properties where certain conditions are met. It duly provided the customer with a water meter when a Measured Charges Notice was received from him. It regularly and consistently informed the customer of his right to have a meter installed and to be charged on a measured basis by including a 'banner message' on all 'unmeasured' bills and articles in its accompanying customer magazine to highlight this possibility.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company is only able to install water meters when certain conditions are met and that in the customer's case there were no grounds to install a water meter at his address until it received the Measured Charges Notice from him. The adjudicator also found that there was no duty on the company to notify the customer of his option of having a water meter and/or provide advice that installation of a water meter could save him money. The adjudicator accepted that the company had acted reasonably by providing the customer with information in bills and other material which notified him of the potential to save money by having a water meter installed.

Remedy Awarded

None

Case Study 6

Complaint Overview

The customer claimed that the company charged him in error for a number of years for the removal of surface water and failed to refund these charges or make an inflationary adjustment of the charges. The customer sought a full refund of erroneous charges, an inflationary adjustment of the charges and compensation.

The company submitted that it correctly refunded the customer for the period in which it erroneously charged him for the removal of surface water. Further, it claimed that as there was no provision or requirement either in the Water Industry Act 1991 or the various charge schemes in force from 1996 to 2016 to say that in circumstances where a customer is charged for surface water when they are not connected, that interest or inflation will be paid on any charges which are due to be refunded, the customer was not entitled to the compensation claimed for.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the amount refunded by the company accurately represented the charges for surface water removal paid by the customer during the disputed timeframe; therefore, the company was not required to provide any further refund. However, the adjudicator accepted that the customer had been deprived of a significant sum of money over a 17-year period due to the company having incorrectly charged the customer for surface water removal.

Remedy Awarded

£150.00

Case Study 7

Complaint Overview

The customer's claim concerned an odour in his property following works carried out by the company to a nearby sewer pipe. The customer also submitted that the company had provided poor customer service in relation to his complaint. The customer sought compensation of £10,000.00 and an apology.

The company stated that it had provided assistance and/or made a number of offers of assistance to the customer during the period.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that, although the company had made reasonable attempts to investigate and rectify the problem, the customer had been greatly inconvenienced by the matter for over three months. The adjudicator also found that the company had failed to respond to the customer's written correspondence in a timely manner during the period of the complaint.

Remedy Awarded

  • £2,000.00
  • A written apology

Case Study 8

Complaint Overview

The customer stated that the company failed to allocate payments he had made to his account, which had negatively affected his credit file. The customer sought compensation of £2,000.00 and an apology.

The company said that the customer failed to provide the correct reference codes on his payments and refused to provide the company with assistance in locating payments.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company should have located the customer's payments earlier than it did and should therefore have ended its debt recovery process sooner. In addition, the adjudicator found that once payments had been located, the company had not contacted the credit reference agency in a timely manner in order to amend the customer's credit file.

Remedy Awarded

  • £150.00
  • A written apology
  • The company had to ensure that the customer's credit file was correctly updated

Case Study 9

Complaint Overview

The customer submitted that the rateable value of his property was incorrect and that, as a consequence, water charges which had been levied on a rateable value basis since he moved into his home in 2002 were also incorrect. The customer also submitted that the company provided a poor level of customer service in its handling of his complaint. The customer sought an apology and a refund of all charges paid since 2002.

The company denied that it had charged the customer incorrectly, and it stated that it had provided a good level of customer service at all times.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take further action.

The adjudicator found that rateable values were effectively frozen in 1990 and there was no evidence to show that the rateable value being used by the company was not the rateable value issued by the Valuation Office Agency prior to 1 April 1990. The adjudicator also found there was no evidence to show that the company had failed to provide a reasonable level of customer service when dealing with the complaint.

Remedy Awarded

None

Case Study 10

Complaint Overview

The customer claimed that the company had failed to give notice before commencing works outside his property, that the works had caused inconvenience and that the contractors employed by the company had been abusive, had carried out the works without a permit and without due regard to health and safety requirements.

The company stated that works had been carried out on its behalf by a third party contractor, and that the necessary permits had been obtained. The company accepted that the customer had been adversely affected by the works, and offers of compensation had been made to the customer in recognition of this. However, the customer had declined those offers.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The customer had been adversely affected by the works carried out by the company, and notice of the intended works had not been provided to the customer. However, the adjudicator found that the relevant permits had been acquired by the company prior to carrying out the works. In the absence of any contradictory submission or evidence by the company, the adjudicator accepted the customer's assertion that the company's contractor had used inappropriate language during a visit to the property.

Remedy Awarded

£200.00

Case Study 11

Complaint Overview

The customer claimed that a leakage allowance applied to his bills by the company had been incorrectly calculated. In addition, the customer asserted that he had requested a hard copy of the company's complaints procedure, which had not been provided. The customer requested compensation of £3,213.89.

The company stated that it can offer leakage allowances at its sole discretion. The company did apply a leakage allowance which took into account the fact that the customer did not bring the leak to its attention until three years after it had occurred. The company denied responsibility to provide any further sum to the customer. No reference was made by the company in relation to information it provided to the customer about its complaints procedure.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that, under the Water Industry Act 1991, the company was entitled to use its discretion when applying leakage allowances. As the customer had not brought the leak to the company's attention sooner, the adjudicator was satisfied that the company provided its services to the standard to be reasonably expected.

As no reference was made by the company to the claims raised by the customer in relation to the complaints process, the adjudicator found on a balance of probabilities that the customer was not provided with the requested information.

Remedy Awarded

  • £50.00
  • The company was directed to provide the customer with a hard copy of its complaints procedure

Case Study 12

Complaint Overview

The customer submitted that the company had charged him incorrectly over four years (by failing to charge him in full). The customer did not request any compensation but requested a reduction in the full outstanding amount owing on his account.

The company accepted that it had charged the customer incorrectly for several years, but that it had already rectified the errors and offered the customer £25.00 in compensation. The company, however, did not accept that the customer was entitled to any reduction in the outstanding balance on his account.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The company's failures in relation to correctly charging the customer were not disputed. The adjudicator noted that these failures were significant and took place over a long period of time.

Remedy Awarded

£700.00, which was to be applied as a deduction from the customer's outstanding balance.

Case Study 13

Complaint Overview

The customer disputed her wastewater charges because the company had not specifically shown her the water meter at her property.

The company explained that it only provides wastewater services to the customer. The company showed that it had already provided the customer with a detailed breakdown of her charges.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company was not responsible for showing the water meter to the customer and it had already provided the customer with a breakdown of her charges.

Remedy Awarded

None

Case Study 14

Complaint Overview

The customer claimed that the company made a change to his water tariff without his agreement. The new tariff had resulted in higher water and sewerage charges. The customer sought reinstatement of his former water tariff or compensation of £200 for every year he has been on the new tariff.

The company submitted that it is legally entitled to issue charging tariffs and that it has exercised its powers lawfully, reasonably and appropriately in implementing the change.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company was legally entitled to make changes to its charges and withdraw tariffs when deemed necessary. By changing the customer's tariff, the company had not acted outside its authority. The company had also introduced a social tariff to assist those customers who are vulnerable or live in low-income households.

However, the adjudicator found that the company had not given sufficient notice of the change in tariff to the customer and had not provided a revised projection of its charges. Therefore the adjudicator was satisfied that the company had not provided its services to the standard to be reasonably expected.

Remedy Awarded

£125.00

Case Study 15

Complaint Overview

The customer's claim was that the company had not adequately responded to incidents of sewer flooding in his garden. The customer was dissatisfied with the amount of compensation offered, and requested that the company re-route the manholes and pipes at his property so that they are located outside the property boundary.

The company said that the sewage emissions were caused by blockages on its network caused by third parties discharging unsuitable materials into the sewer network. Although it is not responsible for the blockages, it will clear up any sewage flooding. It fully cleaned the customer's property and deep cleaned the sewers to remove fat, grease and scale. It also provided a leaflet to residents in the customer's area to educate them on the issue, and it implements a regular check of the sewer. There have since been no further incidents of blockages or flooding at the customer's home.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator acknowledged that the company had taken a number of significant and successful steps to prevent the sewer from flooding again. However, the incidents of sewer flooding meant that the company had not provided its services to the standard to be reasonably expected. In addition, although the company had provided some GSS payments due to the customer for sewage flooding, the adjudicator found it had not made all payments that were due.

The customer's request for the re-routing of manholes and pipes was outside the scope of WATRS.

Remedy Awarded

£994.24

Case Study 16

Complaint Overview

The customer said that he was being charged in full for sewerage costs when a substantial volume of water was being used for irrigation. The company had applied a non-return allowance of 65% at the site for 20 years. The customer acknowledged that he had not renewed the non-return allowance for over four years, but cited mitigating circumstances.

The company stated that, under its charging scheme, non-return allowances are granted at its discretion. The company had written and called the customer to alert him that the non-return allowance would end if he did not renew it, but he failed to do this.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company had taken reasonable steps to notify the customer that the discretionary non-return allowance was going to end. The adjudicator also found that, by contacting the customer to request that he complete and return the form for the discretionary allowance, the company had met the standard to be reasonably expected.

Remedy Awarded

None

Case Study 17

Complaint Overview

The customer said that the company had failed to install a water meter after agreeing to do so. The customer also stated that the company failed to respond to communications and was untruthful.

The company stated that the customer's account was subject to a County Court Judgment (CCJ) in respect of unpaid charges. The customer's complaint about the water meter formed the basis of an application to court made by the customer to set aside the CCJ. The application was reviewed and dismissed by a District Judge.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

WATRS cannot be used to adjudicate any disputes which have previously been to court. As a court had already ruled on the charges on the customer's account, this aspect of the customer's claim and the customer's complaints about the CCJ could not be considered.

However, the adjudicator found that the company failed to respond to the customer's emails within a reasonable timeframe.

Remedy Awarded

A written apology

Case Study 18

Complaint Overview

The customer asserted that the company was charging him incorrectly, that it gave incorrect advice causing him to incur plumber costs and that works it had carried out had damaged his property. He sought an apology and compensation of £1,714.26.

The company said that it had charged the customer correctly and that it gave him correct advice. It denied responsibility for any damage or poor workmanship.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company was charging the customer correctly and that it had given him correct advice. However, the works were carried out poorly which did cause minor damage to the customer's property and caused him to incur costs. The adjudicator considered it fair that the customer be reimbursed for the costs incurred and a further sum was given for the stress and inconvenience he suffered. The majority of the sum claimed by the customer was not awarded as it related to alleged overpayments that had not been proven.

Remedy Awarded

  • £300.00
  • A written apology

Case Study 19

Complaint Overview

The customer stated that he had requested a water meter in 2008 and 2013 but one had not been provided. A meter was finally installed in 2015, which reduced his water bill. He therefore sought to be compensated for paying more than necessary since 2008.

The company said that the customer did not complete a request for a meter until January 2015 and one was fitted in February 2015. The company said it had no obligation to reduce the customer's charges prior to the fitting of the water meter.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take further action.

The adjudicator found that there was no evidence that the customer had made a request for a water meter until January 2015. The customer had not proven any failing on the part of the company.

Remedy Awarded

None