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Disabled Plymouth man's £6,000 water bill due to "large leak"

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: January 31, 2014

By SAM BLACKLEDGE Herald reporter

Comments (11)

A DISABLED man got a shock when he was sent a water bill for more than £6,600 – despite having lived in his one-bedroom bungalow for just six months.

Steven Mitchell said he would have had to be using almost £30 worth of water each day to rack up the bill of £6,682 since he moved into the property in Adelaide Street, Stonehouse, in June last year.

South West Water (SWW) has blamed the high bill on a large leak in the property, which is owned by Devon Community Homes, and says it is investigating.

Mr Mitchell, aged 54, said: “It was a bit of a shock when the bill landed on my doorstep. I realised it wasn’t a serious amount that I owed them, they can’t be charging me that much for six months. It’s not stressful, because there’s no way I am going to have to pay that. It struck me as a bit funny really.”

Mr Mitchell has a paralysed right leg and a bad back, and uses a wheelchair and crutches to get around.

After receiving the bill on Tuesday, January 28 he contacted SWW via Facebook.

A spokesman for the water company said: “We received Mr Mitchell’s query about his bill January 28 and called him the next day. We advised him by letter in December that we had noticed that he seemed to be using more water than usual, recommending that he check for leaks, advice which was reiterated with the most recent bill.

“We advised Mr Mitchell on how to carry out a meter check, which he did on January 30. The results of this revealed a large leak in the supply. We sent a metering technician to the property on the same day to ascertain the location of the leak and can confirm that the leak is not associated with the water meter. We will also make a small excavation to confirm whether the leak is our responsibility or that of the landlord of the property.

“In the meantime we have put Mr Mitchell’s account on hold and are working with him to resolve this issue.”

A spokeswoman for Devon Community Homes said: “Our resident Mr Mitchell reported his water repair concerns to us via our website. There have been no previous reports of a leak at this site. Our direct maintenance team have been issued instructions today (Friday Jan 31) to investigate the issue as quickly as possible.”

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  • raidersfan1  |  February 02 2014, 9:18AM

    I had a bill once for £10,000! turns out we had a leak outside, we were a bit worried as we had just gone on a water metre but SWW told us we could have our first leak free!..... good of them :(

    Rate   -1
  • Bulletpaul  |  February 01 2014, 6:00PM

    Tell them to get STUFFED.

    Rate   3
  • DaveM1965  |  February 01 2014, 10:24AM

    The link below is to an online petition about the extortionate prices of South west Water. PLEASE sign and share on Facebook etc... http://tinyurl.com/p8erdz3

    Rate   1
  • DaveM1965  |  February 01 2014, 10:23AM

    PLEASE sign and share on FaceBook etc http://tinyurl.com/p8erdz3

    Rate   -6
  • pipmonster  |  February 01 2014, 9:44AM

    When the bill was generated surely SWW could see that the man lived in a one bed bungalow not a 20 bed mansion. Oh but I forgot a computer produces the bill, a human probably doesn't even clap eyes on it. In this case computer says "No" or should that read WRONG.

    Rate   6
  • John_Ply  |  January 31 2014, 8:45PM

    Personally, I can't see how water bills of this size can be justified, to an ordinary household, leak or not. If you were talking about gas or electric, then it could be a different matter, as one is generated and the other is purchased. If this amount of water was used, then the bill should be paid. But since water falls from the sky, it is the free water wasted, that generated the bill. While I realise the water company has to discourage people from wasting water and has overheads, surely a penalty payment and the reasonable water bill should suffice. Other than drought conditions, does the water company have less water to sell? There are many households with a water pipe, buried under the ground and even if they read their meter regularly, if a leak developed, after a recent reading, they may not be aware of this, until they were due to read the meter again. The fact that they were vigilant, on the amount of water they used, would not prevent them from getting a similar, or hefty water bill. If these types of bill did not exist and you were making sort of system to cover this eventuality, would anyone reasonably minded person, come up with a cost for the water charge, plus the penalty of £6000, for a commodity which is free?

    Rate   -10
  • Shelley89  |  January 31 2014, 8:23PM

    Typical SWW, useless extortionate bullies. Either they faff up on stupid things like a bill like that or they charge outragous prices. How much do people of water meters in 1 bedroom flats actual pay on their bills? SWW want £50 a month from me as they claim I can't have a meter installed and that the average meter cost is £50 in the area, I've asked a few people on meters who have said they pay anything from £18-£35 on a meter. I don't use that much water as is. Hope this guy gets his bill properly sorted an an apology.

    Rate   10
  • hello_world  |  January 31 2014, 8:10PM

    Check your water meter reading weekly.

    Rate   1
  • gally  |  January 31 2014, 7:25PM

    I got a bill from SW water before Xmas for £4500. No leak. They had a wrong meter reading but I was the one who found that out. They led me to believe I had a leak and kept sending me letters telling me to investigate my water usage. It took 3 weeks to resolve. I was shocked and upset because I thought they would take me to court if I couldn't prove it was a leak or mistake. They have never contacted me to apologise. Maybe the Herald should find out how many people SW water have done this to.

    Rate   17
  • welsh_exile  |  January 31 2014, 6:51PM

    Absolutely nothing. The Herald is just using the fact that he's disabled to make readers feel more sorry for him than they might otherwise have done. It makes for a better sob story.

    Rate   8