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As well as being a source of major disruption, water pressure tops the list of households’ supply concerns ahead of taste and appearance, according to independent customer champion the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).
But getting to the problem’s root cause can be a fraught and costly affair.
Determining where a leak or blockage lies and who needs to do the fix — a plumber or water company — can be a convoluted, baffling business involving pipework technicalities that tie consumers in knots.
++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer and small business champion Maisha Frost on [email protected]
To avoid delays, CCW advises water companies should be assertive when an issue is reported and make sure they’ve asked all the right questions of customers when trying to determine what the issue might be.
Customers should be prepared when they call and have their observations ready.
Knowing who among neighbours is affected can help. But remember different supplies can affect that so a customer must not be put off if they are the only ones experiencing a problem.
Consumers aren’t experts so guidance at the first stage is critical and can save much precious time.
Finding a solution is also often a process of ruling things out, so again – the more information available at the start, the quicker the result should be and better for everyone involved.
From their side, customers can also protect themselves by understanding likely processes and the dos-and-don’ts.
This reduces chances to be fobbed off or blind-sided by technicalities.
Among the musts for customers is ensuring their problem has been recorded. Getting answers to what repair work might be needed and when are also crucial as is being aware CCW can take up any complaint.
It became unbearable as the appliances stopped working.
All of this goes to the heart of Fiona Baron’s experience after her neighbour Joe claimed he had been told by a plumber that his new shower wasn’t working because of low water pressure in July last year.
Attempts to turn off the outside stop valve had also failed while the pressure problem worsened.
“It became unbearable as the appliances stopped working. I called Thames several times over three months reporting low pressure,” Fiona claims.
But texts and calls to and from the supplier have left an incomplete and disputed record. A scheduled repair to the stop valve did not happen when arranged in July.
Thames says it was not flagged as an emergency, low pressure was not mentioned when the matter was first reported and it took time to organise the council permits and road closures required.
It says it was only on September 24 it was told about the problem. It then had to replace the valve which confirmed that the cause was a main pipe leak. That led to a repair in early October.
Fiona was offered a £266 goodwill gesture for the disruption. “But it does not reflect the upset I went through, I took days off work, it’s poor,” she told Crusader when we delved deep into what had gone on.
If Thames only learned of the low-pressure problem in late September the offer is correct.
But if not, and a clear record was available to show that, Fiona could have argued for more. CCW could also have taken a key role in getting a satisfactory solution.
“Put any issue in writing and get confirmation,” advises Fiona. “Crusader and CCW have helped understand my rights and what I needed to know. I will be more empowered in future and I hope others are too.”
CCW’s Tim Clarke urges: “If you’ve got low water pressure, tell your company immediately.”
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