As soon as we get the utility bill we all tend to grimace. But what if you were made to pay your neighbour’s bill along with your own! I can just imagine your reaction! Well, Margaret Hallman ended up doing just this for six years!
Ms. Hallman moved into her home in West London in 1999. There was a water meter installed by the previous owner, and she paid an average of £85 every six months. But in 2010 she received a bill for £110, and in the next two years the amount rose to £110, and even more than that. So Ms. Hallman decided that there was something strange and she called Thames Water so as to enquire. The only reply she got was that if she expected to pay less, she should consume less water! Eventually they sent a meter reader to check the meter but he confirmed that the bill was correct.
Ms. Hallman, who lived alone and was 72 years old, was desperate to reduce her costs. So she started to take measures to reduce her water consumption. She flushed less regularly, did not allow her grandchildren to shower at her house, and even went to the lengths of going to wash herself at her daughter’s house a few streets away. But despite all her sacrifices, the bill she got last April amounted to £249.95!
She tried to read through the technicalities of the bill. She noticed that she typically used about 29 cubic metres of water very six months, but even with all her cutbacks the bill mentioned that she was using 42! This amount was typically sued by a family, and not by a single person household such as hers – and especially with all her cutbacks!
She thought about the possibility of a leak. So she turned off the stopcock and checked the meter. It was still moving! So she called Thames Water and reported this. This time they sent an engineer. He confirmed that there was no leak but there was something quite strange going on – Ms. Hallman’s water meter was connected to her neighbour’s pipe and because of this she had been paying their bills since 2009!
The engineer told her that they would be contacting her but this never happened. To make things worse she actually got a letter that she still owed the £249.95! Ms. Hallman was always told to wait for a call that never came, and so she was forced to contact Money Mail. Finally Thames Water agreed to refund her a total of £1,034. Thankfully they are also going to make up for the huge mistake by refunding her for her own water usage during that period of time.
In the UK there are two ways to pay for your water. You can either pay a fixed sum every quarter, or else have a meter installed. The latter option is generally cheaper than the former, but it was not so for poor Ms. Hallman. Luckily her saga has come to a good ending at last!