Petition drawn up as Kingsmead fight water giant United Utilities

Petition drawn up as Kingsmead fight water giant

Petition drawn up as Kingsmead fight water giant

First published in News Northwich Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

FURIOUS residents are joining forces to demand what they are owed by a utilities giant.

An action group has been formed and a petition drawn up by Kingsmead residents who want a full refund for up to 18 years of paying United Utilities for a service the company did not provide.

They say refund offered by the company, which only covers part of the charge and dates back for just six years, is not enough.

Commenting on the Guardian website n00btastica said: “I have lived on Kingsmead for 14 years and have paid, year after year, the surface water standing charge.

“United Utilities have offered six years back payment with no interest and a (in my opinion) incorrect assessment of a split between surface and highways water.

“They are trying to wriggle out of paying back the monies they have taken from residents, in error, for a service they have not provided.

“I would like to see what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot and we owed United Utilities money.

“There is a moral issue here as well as a legal one.”

United Utilities bills residents for treating run-off water from rainfall, called a surface water charge.

Kingsmead Parish Council discovered that all rainfall in Kingsmead drains to a self-contained filtration unit that United Utilities did not own until October 2013.

quayle73, commenting on the website, said: “We get bills through the door and we trust the people sending them – that we are paying the correct amounts for the correct jobs being done.

“Being owed a lot more than £220 I am disgusted that United Utilities did not offer a full refund.

“It is our money and as a community we will fight for it.”

Pauljs said: “United Utilities have been charging residents for a service they have not been providing.

“It is their responsibility to refund all of the monies that have been taken in error.

“If they had discovered that they had under charged we would all be having to pay up the missed charges to the maximum degree.

“Sometimes you have to kick up a fuss to get the right and just outcome and this is one of those times.”

The petition is available on the Kingsmead Residents Facebook page.

Residents have also requested a formal public meeting with United Utilities and Kingsmead Parish Council has raised a complaint with the Consumer Council for Water.

Comments (10)

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3:07pm Tue 8 Jul 14

Ruckit says...

you should be glad your getting offered something, past residents are not included and getting offered sweet fanny adams! No matter how you lived on there and paid for!
you should be glad your getting offered something, past residents are not included and getting offered sweet fanny adams! No matter how you lived on there and paid for! Ruckit
  • Score: 1

3:42pm Tue 8 Jul 14

L Byrne says...

The guys in charge at UU will be relieved to hear that they are being , ahem, threatened with a petition and will probably celebrate with an extra g&t on the way home this evening.

These people will only take serious notice if legal action is threatened or actually commences. As those who owe them money know, that is the way they do business.
The guys in charge at UU will be relieved to hear that they are being , ahem, threatened with a petition and will probably celebrate with an extra g&t on the way home this evening. These people will only take serious notice if legal action is threatened or actually commences. As those who owe them money know, that is the way they do business. L Byrne
  • Score: 0

4:47pm Tue 8 Jul 14

save with me says...

Ruckit that's precisely why we are petitioning. So that all residents past present and moved on the estate ones are able to be repaid exactly what we have paid to UU since 1996.
Ruckit that's precisely why we are petitioning. So that all residents past present and moved on the estate ones are able to be repaid exactly what we have paid to UU since 1996. save with me
  • Score: 0

8:14pm Tue 8 Jul 14

n00btastica says...

Link for the petition?
Link for the petition? n00btastica
  • Score: 2

12:02pm Wed 9 Jul 14

CReed50 says...

If you are not a member of the residents Facebook group or don't have have Facebook the petition is also available to sign in the Co-op Chemists, Fish & Chip shop and the Barnardos shop on Kingsmead.
If you are not a member of the residents Facebook group or don't have have Facebook the petition is also available to sign in the Co-op Chemists, Fish & Chip shop and the Barnardos shop on Kingsmead. CReed50
  • Score: 2

8:33pm Wed 9 Jul 14

n00btastica says...

Thanks - popped in and signed earlier

And another appalling response from UU today advising my complaint is now off for I dependant review ! Wow can't wait

And, surprise surprise , no response to me directly asking for a definite confirmation that they had also adopted the highway water system (as we are not being offered a refund for this)

Is that because it wasn't adopted UU ?

Is that because it's the same combined system that the surface water uses UU?

Is that because it's then into the same filtration unit you have admitted you didn't adopt UU?

Is that because you are yet again lying to customers and trying to limit your pay out UU?

You are a disgrace UU
Thanks - popped in and signed earlier And another appalling response from UU today advising my complaint is now off for I dependant review ! Wow can't wait And, surprise surprise , no response to me directly asking for a definite confirmation that they had also adopted the highway water system (as we are not being offered a refund for this) Is that because it wasn't adopted UU ? Is that because it's the same combined system that the surface water uses UU? Is that because it's then into the same filtration unit you have admitted you didn't adopt UU? Is that because you are yet again lying to customers and trying to limit your pay out UU? You are a disgrace UU n00btastica
  • Score: 2

10:08pm Wed 9 Jul 14

UsernameAlreadyInUse says...

Apparently there is case law which stipulates that water companies can get away with this behaviour - Yorkshire Water vs Hall, 1994. I wonder, however, if that case was based around the ambiguities around water rates, rather than based around bills which have two clearly defined, metered values, and one standing charge? Any legal eagles have a look at it and see if a new build estate with metered water would likely go in the consumer's favour?

Furthermore, UU will no doubt have been paid handsomely by the developers to install water mains, sewers, and water meters in new properties; ignorance of the fact that they weren't responsible for surface and highway drainage would therefore surely not wash as a defence?

I would quite happily club in to any joint legal action against UU - as a resident of Kingsmead from 2004 to 2011, I calculate I'm owed well in excess of £300 - but as previous commenters have said, UU e-mailed me to say that they hoped I would find their e-mail satisfactory, but I would be getting zero. Zilch. Zip.
Apparently there is case law which stipulates that water companies can get away with this behaviour - Yorkshire Water vs Hall, 1994. I wonder, however, if that case was based around the ambiguities around water rates, rather than based around bills which have two clearly defined, metered values, and one standing charge? Any legal eagles have a look at it and see if a new build estate with metered water would likely go in the consumer's favour? Furthermore, UU will no doubt have been paid handsomely by the developers to install water mains, sewers, and water meters in new properties; ignorance of the fact that they weren't responsible for surface and highway drainage would therefore surely not wash as a defence? I would quite happily club in to any joint legal action against UU - as a resident of Kingsmead from 2004 to 2011, I calculate I'm owed well in excess of £300 - but as previous commenters have said, UU e-mailed me to say that they hoped I would find their e-mail satisfactory, but I would be getting zero. Zilch. Zip. UsernameAlreadyInUse
  • Score: 1

8:53am Sun 13 Jul 14

n00btastica says...

From the KPC website:

"UU Update 8/07/14

UU has confirmed to the Clerk today at 15:30 by phone that they have decided that only residents living in a Kingsmead property on 25th June 2013 are entitled to a refund. Residents who have occupied more than one property will only be entitled to a refund for the property they occupied on 25th June 2013. Residents who have moved from Kingsmead prior to 25th June 2013 are not entitled to a refund. Kingsmead Parish Council continues to work with UU and the Consumer Water Council to achieve an acceptable resolution on behalf of affected residents."

Disgusting
From the KPC website: "UU Update 8/07/14 UU has confirmed to the Clerk today at 15:30 by phone that they have decided that only residents living in a Kingsmead property on 25th June 2013 are entitled to a refund. Residents who have occupied more than one property will only be entitled to a refund for the property they occupied on 25th June 2013. Residents who have moved from Kingsmead prior to 25th June 2013 are not entitled to a refund. Kingsmead Parish Council continues to work with UU and the Consumer Water Council to achieve an acceptable resolution on behalf of affected residents." Disgusting n00btastica
  • Score: 0

11:09am Thu 17 Jul 14

n00btastica says...

Update on the KPC website

The following has been received from CCWater:

In our last update, CCWater advised that we were waiting for a timeline from United Utilities.

CCWater received that this week, following which we asked United Utilities further questions, and set out some further challenges.

United Utilities is considering how these affect its present position on the refund.

We anticipate that this may take a further 10 working days.

I hope this is of assistance and we thank you for your patience.
Update on the KPC website The following has been received from CCWater: In our last update, CCWater advised that we were waiting for a timeline from United Utilities. CCWater received that this week, following which we asked United Utilities further questions, and set out some further challenges. United Utilities is considering how these affect its present position on the refund. We anticipate that this may take a further 10 working days. I hope this is of assistance and we thank you for your patience. n00btastica
  • Score: 0

11:43pm Fri 25 Jul 14

n00btastica says...

Well well (from KPC website)

EXCELLENT RESULT FOR ALL RESIDENTS PAST AND PRESENT FROM 1997

SEE BELOW

Ms Jo O'Donoghue

Clerk

Kingsmead Parish Council

231 Hartford Road

Davenham

Northwich

CW9 8JT

Dear Ms O'Donoghue

Thank you for your patience whilst we discussed the concerns you raised with United Utilities.

Crux of complaint

You originally came to us to advise that residents had been paying surface water drainage charges for surface water that ran through an unadopted sewer and into a watercourse. You were concerned that United Utilities had advised you that they intended to refund residents and arrange a public meeting but this had not yet happened.

Following your initial contact with us, United Utilities wrote to customers advising of the refund and to offer the residents the opportunity to meet with them on 1st or 2nd July 2014. You then contacted us again with further concerns from residents these being:

Why is the refund only for 6 years?
How has the figure been calculated?
Why are former residents and residents who have moved within Kingsmead not being offered the same refund terms?
Is compound interest being added to the refunded amounts?
In addition to contact from yourself, CCWater also received contact from 36 residents of Kingsmead who told us:
They felt the refund should be backdated to their date of occupancy
They felt all residents (current and former) should be entitled to the same refund terms
CCWater’s view

CCWater considered there were grounds to press the company to reconsider its policy from a customer service perspective.

Outcome

I am pleased to inform you that United Utilities has listened to the residents’ views and accepted CCWater’s recommendations. It has now agreed to provide all residents who resided in Kingsmead during 1 April 1997 to 24 October 2013 a refund of the surface water drainage charges they paid during their period of occupancy. The rationale for going back to 1 April 1997 is that surface water drainage charges only became a separate charge from that date and therefore CCWater considers this to be a fair outcome

United Utilities will not be paying interest on the refunds. The reason for this is that United Utilities do not charge interest to domestic customers for late payment. As such, United Utilities applies a symmetrical approach with refunds.

Next Steps

United Utilities will be contacting all Kingsmead residents and known former residents individually by 1 August 2014 (via a phased approach) to advise of their additional refunds.

I sincerely hope you have found CCWater’s involvement to be of assistance in terms of helping to secure this outcome. As United Utilities will now be contacting residents directly to make arrangements for the refund your case with our office will be closed. If you require our services again in the future please do not hesitate to contact us.

We value feedback on how our customers feel about the service we provide and as such you may be asked by our market research agency (SPA Future Thinking) to complete a short telephone survey regarding your complaint. They select a random sample of customers to survey from a list of all cases we have closed each month. If you would rather not be asked to provide your views on how you feel we have helped you with your complaint, please contact me using the contact details below and I will remove your details from the list.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Email: northwest@ccwater.or
g.uk

Address: Consumer Council for Water North West, Second Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, Manchester, M1 3BN

Please read our complaints leaflet here: http://www.ccwater.o
rg.uk/wp-content/upl
oads/2013/12/Your-ri
ght-to-complain-abou
t-your-water-or-sewe
rage-company.pdf
Well well (from KPC website) EXCELLENT RESULT FOR ALL RESIDENTS PAST AND PRESENT FROM 1997 SEE BELOW Ms Jo O'Donoghue Clerk Kingsmead Parish Council 231 Hartford Road Davenham Northwich CW9 8JT Dear Ms O'Donoghue Thank you for your patience whilst we discussed the concerns you raised with United Utilities. Crux of complaint You originally came to us to advise that residents had been paying surface water drainage charges for surface water that ran through an unadopted sewer and into a watercourse. You were concerned that United Utilities had advised you that they intended to refund residents and arrange a public meeting but this had not yet happened. Following your initial contact with us, United Utilities wrote to customers advising of the refund and to offer the residents the opportunity to meet with them on 1st or 2nd July 2014. You then contacted us again with further concerns from residents these being: Why is the refund only for 6 years? How has the figure been calculated? Why are former residents and residents who have moved within Kingsmead not being offered the same refund terms? Is compound interest being added to the refunded amounts? In addition to contact from yourself, CCWater also received contact from 36 residents of Kingsmead who told us: They felt the refund should be backdated to their date of occupancy They felt all residents (current and former) should be entitled to the same refund terms CCWater’s view CCWater considered there were grounds to press the company to reconsider its policy from a customer service perspective. Outcome I am pleased to inform you that United Utilities has listened to the residents’ views and accepted CCWater’s recommendations. It has now agreed to provide all residents who resided in Kingsmead during 1 April 1997 to 24 October 2013 a refund of the surface water drainage charges they paid during their period of occupancy. The rationale for going back to 1 April 1997 is that surface water drainage charges only became a separate charge from that date and therefore CCWater considers this to be a fair outcome United Utilities will not be paying interest on the refunds. The reason for this is that United Utilities do not charge interest to domestic customers for late payment. As such, United Utilities applies a symmetrical approach with refunds. Next Steps United Utilities will be contacting all Kingsmead residents and known former residents individually by 1 August 2014 (via a phased approach) to advise of their additional refunds. I sincerely hope you have found CCWater’s involvement to be of assistance in terms of helping to secure this outcome. As United Utilities will now be contacting residents directly to make arrangements for the refund your case with our office will be closed. If you require our services again in the future please do not hesitate to contact us. We value feedback on how our customers feel about the service we provide and as such you may be asked by our market research agency (SPA Future Thinking) to complete a short telephone survey regarding your complaint. They select a random sample of customers to survey from a list of all cases we have closed each month. If you would rather not be asked to provide your views on how you feel we have helped you with your complaint, please contact me using the contact details below and I will remove your details from the list. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Email: northwest@ccwater.or g.uk Address: Consumer Council for Water North West, Second Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, Manchester, M1 3BN Please read our complaints leaflet here: http://www.ccwater.o rg.uk/wp-content/upl oads/2013/12/Your-ri ght-to-complain-abou t-your-water-or-sewe rage-company.pdf n00btastica
  • Score: 0

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