I have lived in my home since March 2014, and my water is supplied by South West Water.
Recently, I have been getting bills from SES Business Water addressed to a limited company. These are for services for a trough at my address.
On November 3, the bill was £1,588.62. On November 10, a disconnection notice arrived with a charge of £68.63.
I have telephoned SES every time a bill arrives. The firm always promises to sort it out but never does.
S. L., Redruth, Cornwall.
Mystery bills: A reader has been left fearing for her water supply after provider SES repeatedly sent her bills for £1,588.62 addressed to a limited company she’d never heard of
Tony Hazell replies: As you might guess, this is a little complicated, but the roots go back to 2017 when changes were made in the water industry.
For some reason, it was later decided you had an agricultural trough and were a business customer. This resulted in your account being allocated to SES.
You told SES of the mistake and it says it tried to get confirmation from South West Water, requesting your property be returned to residential status.
SES says it has explained on several occasions that you should ignore any bills and not worry about them, as it would definitely not be disconnecting you. In fact, it is against the law to cut off a domestic household supply.
However, I can understand why you would be so worried after receiving a disconnection notice.
It doesn’t matter if you are told by phone that all is well: if bills keep arriving and then a disconnection notice comes, you can legitimately wonder whether department A is talking to department B.
The good news is that the issue has finally been resolved.
An SES spokesman says: ‘We completely understand your reader’s concern and frustration at how long this has taken.
‘We have called her to confirm that all charges will be removed and the account closed following confirmation that there is no business supply at her address.’
You have YOUR say
Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some on our report that online shoppers buying goods from the EU are facing hefty new charges:
There are plenty of British companies which can cater to our needs. Thanks to online shopping, items from lots of small UK craft shops are now accessible across the country.
A. E., Edinburgh.
My daughter incurs charges on lots of products because she orders from all over the world. I have tried to explain that there is no need to pay more if you order from UK sites.
S. S., Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
It is sometimes not immediately obvious which country you are buying from. It can be hidden in small print. Perhaps businesses should make it more obvious.
L. M., Taunton, Somerset.
I order quite a lot from the U.S. and Canada and the extra charges are usually included in the VAT and custom duties. Can EU retailers not sort out a similar arrangement?
P. K., via email.
I bought a pair of jeans, which I hadn’t realised were sent from America. When they arrived, I had to pay VAT, which is fair enough. However, the Royal Mail fee actually exceeded the tax. I always buy locally now.
K. F., Aylesbury, Bucks.
I do wonder why traders have been taken by surprise. The rules for importing to non-EU countries are well established. Why haven’t business leaders been exchanging tips on how to cope with international trade?
S. T., Halifax, W. Yorks.
My daughter sent me a calendar from the U.S. made up of photos of my granddaughter. Later, we were slapped with a £32 handling fee from FedEx. I’m sure the calendar itself couldn’t have cost that much.
M. M, Ely, Cambs.
Natwest’s no help with power of attorney
I have recently been appointed as an attorney for my mum with a lasting power of attorney. She has banked with NatWest for more than 30 years. At the age of 93, dementia is setting in.
When I phoned customer services, I was advised that I could go into the branch at any time, without an appointment, in order to register. I have a brain injury, so I needed to pick a day when I had the intellectual capacity to deal with something of this nature.
I drove from Norfolk to my mum’s home some 100 miles away, collected her and visited her local branch, where most staff know her.
My mother and I are both disabled and find it difficult to stand for long periods.
We had to queue for about 45 minutes only to be informed by the teller that he didn’t have time to deal with the matter and that I should have made an appointment.
I told him I have a brain injury and showed him my Headway ID card to prove it. I added that I’d travelled some 100 miles and that customer services said I didn’t need an appointment.
He was insistent that he could not help us. I phoned NatWest customer services again, which confirmed I had my facts right.
P. L., Diss, Norfolk.
Tony Hazell replies: This happened before the current lockdown regulations which restrict journeys kicked in.
Regardless, given that looking after your mum’s financial affairs is essential, NatWest could, and should, have made the process much easier.
Even if they were unaware of your disability before you arrived, the staff member should still have spoken to his manager and arranged for help to comply with equalities legislation.
NatWest has now spoken with you and the power of attorney has been registered. It has also offered compensation of £250 as a gesture of apology to you both.
NatWest said it couldn’t help a customer and her mother after they drove 100 miles to visit
Dial Direct called the debt collectors on me
My house insurance with Dial Direct was due to terminate on October 22. I emailed the firm on September 28 to inform it not to take any further payments.
I also emailed on October 8, and again on October 19, confirming I did not wish to renew and that it was not to try to debit my account. However, it still tried, using an expired card number.
On October 28, I emailed again, pointing out that in all the previous emails I had stated that I was not renewing.
The company sent a bill for cancellation of contract for £64.50 in November, with the threat of debt collectors.
Dr A. G., Sutton, Surrey.
Tony Hazell replies: The problem with relying on email to communicate with firms is that you have to be certain that you are writing to the correct address.
Many companies have unattended email addresses, which they often use to send messages to customers.
This can be confusing for customers who, quite reasonably, think they should be able to reply to the address the company used when writing to them.
Surely it is not beyond the wit of those running IT operations to simply redirect these emails to a different mailbox rather than ignoring them?
Dial Direct says that it did not receive your original email due to an administration error.
The later emails were all sent to an address only used for outgoing emails.
It says you would have received an email back saying the mailbox was not monitored.
I wonder if that ended up in your spam folder? That’s where my mail server unhelpfully places some of my emails, especially when they contain words vital to your complaints that it deems likely to be signs of fraud or junk mail.
Dial Direct says that it asks customers who want to cancel to do so by telephone. Most importantly it has removed the charges, apologised and sent a bouquet of flowers.
- We love hearing from our loyal readers, so ask that during this challenging time you write to us by email where possible, as we will not pick up letters sent to our postal address as regularly as usual. You can write to: [email protected] dailymail.co.uk or, if you prefer, Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 D erry Street, London W8 5TT — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.
Money Mail’s first letters cartoonist dies aged 97
Talent: Money Mail’s first letters page cartoonist Haro Hodson and, left, his cartoon for Money Mail’s 18th birthday
Haro Hodson, Money Mail’s first letters page cartoonist, has died, aged 97.
Haro first began drawing for the Mail in the 1960s and often included his beloved pet pugs in illustrations.
On September 28, 1966, his work was published in the first edition of Money Mail.
His son, Peregrine Hodson, says: ‘My father always enjoyed putting a human face to business and finance stories through his cartoons.’
Haro was married to writer Elizabeth Mavor, who died in 2013.
He passed away in a care home in Watlington, Oxfordshire, on January 19 and is survived by two children and three grandchildren.
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