18th May 2011

NI Water Pipe Size Billing Error

Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) has confirmed that approximately 1,300[1] customers have been billed incorrectly after another data error was discovered. 

Graham Smith, Interim Head of Water at the Consumer Council said “Consumers will be rightly frustrated that we are dealing with a further billing error at NI Water. 

Some consumers will receive a refund but for those who will receive an unexpected, backdated bill, it is very unwelcome news.”

The Consumer Council understands that those consumers entitled to a refund will have this backdated six years.  All consumers who have been undercharged will receive bills backdated to April 2007 but will be asked to pay 50 per cent of the outstanding figure.  For any consumer receiving an unexpected bill, NI Water is committed to working with them to agree a repayment plan.  All affected consumers will receive a letter from NI Water explaining the impact on their account and what they should do. 

Utility companies have a responsibility to bill their customers correctly.  Part of that responsibility is to correct errors when they happen, and such corrections must be carried out in a way that considers the impact on consumers. We recognise that NI Water has given a commitment to do this.

This disappointing and frustrating news will be yet another blow to consumer confidence. Consumers expect the information NI Water holds about them to be accurate.  NI Water must address as a priority issues which impact so starkly on consumers so that consumer confidence can be rebuilt; getting customer billing data right is a basic.  The Consumer Council is committed to help ensure this happens. 

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Pauline Gordon, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail, [email protected]   
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.

3.         For more information, visit our website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk

[1] NI Water estimates that less than 2 per cent of metered customers are affected and the value equates to just 0.6 per cent of yearly revenue from billing or 3 per cent of the standing charge revenue.