Thinking of having a water meter installed? Is your local
Water Authority trying to convince you that you will save
money by having an installation?
tried this one on me, and I fell for it. Since having a meter
fitted and with very careful use, I now pay
over twice the amount I
did before having a meter, plus a huge balance accrued for
excess water that
chose not to charge me for during the first 12 months, i.e.
during the opt out period. This kept my monthly payments
artificially low for my first year with the meter,
giving me a false impression that I was
How does it work? It is very subtle, and you would possibly
never know you had been taken for a very expensive ride, until
it is too late.
Learn from my experience. Read on…..this could save you
hundreds if not thousands of pounds over the years to come.
After having received a booklet from
telling me how much I might save by having a meter
installed, I was interested. My retirement age is fast
approaching, and any saving can only be good. I made
contact and answered the questions that would establish
my initial tariff and water consumption. 2 people, no
dishwasher, power shower or swimming pool. Low water
usage. I was told that I could expect a saving of
about £10 per month and should I not be happy with
the meter within the first 12 months, I could go back to
my unmeasured water supply. Can’t be fairer than that,
can you. Arrangements were made to have the meter fitted
at £17 per month plus give or take a few pounds
adjustment at the end of the year. This quote is for
53 cubic metres per year. Remember that figure…53
cubic metres. The chances are the volume won’t mean
an awful lot at the time, just the cash saving. After
all, what does 53 cubic meters mean to the average man?
We trust the water companies, don’t we? It means little
at the time but it becomes so very important later.
Meter installed on September 1st
2006 and direct debit set up for £17 per month.
Opt out period to expire on August 31st 2007.
Everything seems fine, being careful on water use, and
happy as a pig in muck.
is the booklet that gave me a false sense of security
February 2007. Actual meter reading: 67 cubic metres
Statement informs me continue at £17 per month.
Everything is just fine, as our American friends say.
2007. Actual meter reading: 134 cubic metres
For some reason this statement was not sent to me until
a month after the actual reading. It was taken on the 14th
August and posted to me on September 19th.
Strange, they held it back so long. Could it be that it
was held back, so I would receive it after the
12 month option expired? Statement informed me that
from November 2007 my monthly payments would be
increased to a whopping £54. Being a cheery kind
of chap who tries to see the best in people, I assumed
it was a short catch up adjustment. Wrong.
March 2008. Estimated
meter reading: 215 cubic metres
Statement informs me that
£54 a month will continue.
Alarm bells start ringing. Something has gone
terribly wrong. This is a 300%
increase! I phoned up customer services to
find out how long this £54 payment would continue. For
the foreseeable future, I was told. Very nice people and
very helpful. They asked me to give them an actual
reading, as the last one they had on the record was an
estimated one. I did: 301 cubic metres. Their
estimate was a staggering 86 cubic metres out. Oh
dear, said the nice young lady, this means that
you should be paying about £100
a month. I had to explain that I could not
afford that amount, and the nice young lady said that I
could remain at £54 for the present but a water usage
backlog from the point of meter installation had built
up which would have to be paid at some stage.
This is the
statement. Note where it states ‘We will keep you
informed of adjustments to your bill’.
Bill means hard cash. Not volumes of water!
Now take a look at the first statement I received in
February 2007 (5 months into the first opt out year):
Knowing what I do now about cubic metres and litres per
were fully aware at this stage that the reading taken
showed 67 cubic metres for five months, which was over
twice the volume they assessed me with, and my monthly
payments should have been increased from £17 per month.
Their code of practice clearly states that they will
keep you informed of any adjustments to your bill.
But my statement tells me to continue with the £17 per
month. Why? Obvious now. Had
they informed me as they promised, I would have
contacted them straightaway and gone back to unmeasured
supply. That would never do, so it appeared
they kept me totally in the dark until the next
How unfortunate! My 12 months grace period had expired.
I was now stuck with this wretched meter plus a bill for
backdated water used for that year. When I complained of
this to the customer services (who were very nice, and
no criticism levelled at them) and later received a call
back from a lady in a superior position who was not as
pleasant (I recorded the conversation with her knowledge
and nicknamed her Woman from Hell), her argument was
that I should have cancelled in the first 12 months! How
can one be in a position to evaluate the situation when
you are not informed??? Clearly this complaints door was
firmly slammed in my face. Be
warned: things may not be as they appear until, of
course, after the opt out period has expired.
two pieces of information from one statement.
Note the difference in dates.
Hang on, that’s too late! Especially if you delay
sending me the next statement for an extra month! Meter
read on 14.08.07, statement sent on 19.09.07. Why the
My first meter reading was taken on 05.02.07, statement
sent next day, 06.02.07. Could it be that
the delay would conceal the
increase until it was too late to opt out?
Doesn’t need a super intelligent man to work this scam
it all about?
From the bad experience with
and their meter, it is my opinion that they kept me on a
superficially low monthly repayment until the opt out
period expired. I was happy (short lived...). They are
happy (permanent!). Oh, by the way, I will have to pay
for the extra water used during the first year due to
their ‘miscalculation’. This will go on top of this
year's bill. They seem to get their calculations right
after the first 12 months. My true payments should now
be £100 per month! A
far cry from their £17 per month initial evaluation. And
I monitor every turn of the tap!
It is of my opinion that I am the victim of a water meter
This is how it worked:
Upon filling in the questionnaire, I was put on a low tariff
which would automatically show a good saving. I was given a 12
months opt out period. I was assured, according to the booklet
given, that “After a meter has been fitted we will keep you
informed of adjustments to your bill”. Not so!! Although my
water usage was grossly underestimated to make the meter
option more attractive, at no time during the 12 month opt out
period did they inform me of the fact that my bill would
increase. Well, they wouldn’t, would they.
They had more than doubled their money
on me. I was informed of the increase to £54 after
the 12 month opt out period had expired.
1 cubic metre is 1000 litres.
1 toilet flush plus hand wash = approx 8 to 9 litres. (my
Low usage for 2 people is 53 cubic metres, or 53000 litres.
£17 per month.
toilet flush and hand wash per person every 90 minutes for 16
waking hours equals approx. 21 flush/wash = 189 litres per
53 cubic meters equals 145 litres per day for 2 people.
So, if we use the toilet on average of once every hour and a
half and wash our hands after, we have exceeded our daily
water usage by 44 litres.
Washing, shaving, cleaning teeth, washing machine, tea and
coffee, shower or bath, etc, etc, are extras which have to be
paid for at some stage.
In my case I was not informed of any necessary adjustment to
my payments until the 13th month. Contrary to what
booklet gives the impression they will.
Result: A colossal water bill
each month due to
failing to inform me during the opt out period.
With an unmeasured water supply you
can use any amount you choose. You can indulge in
the luxury of a full bath or an extra long shower. You can
flush the toilet as many times as you like, and water your
garden, and wash the car on sunny Sunday afternoons. Fill the
kiddies pool and spray them with a hosepipe just for the sheer
hell of it. Cost? A set amount each month that you are totally
With a meter you cut down on any
indulgence. You watch every trickle of water coming
out of the tap for whatever purpose. Your meter is ticking
along merrily notching up the cubic metres and also your
bills. You probably won’t be told you are exceeding the amount
allotted until the 12 months have expired. Boy, will you be in
for a shock if my experience is anything to go by!
Be smart, learn from my mistake.
Keep unmeasured! Ignore
the spin about saving you money, or saving the planet, or
other rubbish. That's my advice and opinion.
If you think that Water Authorities are honest and have
their customers welfare at heart, read this::
Severn Trent faces a £35.8m fine