This Consumer Rights Day (Monday 15 March 2010), the Consumer Council for Water wants to be sure that Northumbrian Water customers know about, and take advantage of the free, extra services available from their water company.
Recent research by the Consumer Council for Water has shown that many customers are unaware of some of the extra services for which they may be eligible. For example, only about a quarter of water customers know that special services are available such as: deliveries of free bottled water in an emergency, Braille or talking water bills and schemes to help protect against bogus callers.
Customers can make sure theyre not missing out by looking through the information that comes with their water bills. A few of the Consumer Council for Waters top tips include:
Help for those struggling to afford water bills Customers who have a meter and either have three children under 19 (in full time education), or a medical condition that means they need to use more water, are eligible for help under the WaterSure scheme if they also receive income related benefits. WaterSure caps a households water bill at the average rate for their area so vulnerable households can use the water they need without having to worry about a high bill.
Northumbrian Water is also keen to talk to any customer who may be struggling to pay so that they can arrange more flexible payment plans. Contact the company to find out more.
Special Assistance Each water company offers special assistance for customers, such as passwords to help protect against bogus callers, Braille, talking, or large print bills, and if you meet certain criteria, the company can arrange to have bottled water delivered to your door if a water main bursts and your water supply is cut off. Contact your water company if you think any of these services would be of help to you.
Free help with leaks If you think you might have a water leak on your property, contact your water company. Many water companies offer help to detect leaks. Some will also help with repair costs, even when having the leak fixed is the customers responsibility.
Free water meters Across England and Wales, about two thirds of water customers still pay charges based on the rateable value of their homes, but many could save money by having a water meter installed. Water companies install meters for free, and customers can try the meter for a year and switch back if they dont like it.1 If a meter cannot be fitted, companies can offer an alternative unmeasured tariff which may be lower than the current bill. A calculator to help customers work out how much they would pay on a metered charge is available on the Consumer Council for Waters website, www.ccwater.org.uk.
Help to reduce metered bills and cut down on wasting water Most water or sewerage companies offer free devices to help encourage responsible water use, such as shower timers, fat traps or water saving bags for your toilet cistern. Contact your local water company to find out more.
Andrea Cook, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water Northern, said: With Consumer Rights Day coming up, we know that many customers are not aware of the extra services each water company provides, and we would urge customers to get in touch with their local company if they think they could benefit from any, or all of these schemes.