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  • by Karma Loveday

CCW secures refunds for businesses overcharged in error

CCW has secured the return of over a third of a million pounds to 3,500 business customers in England who were accidentally charged wrongly by their retailers for three years.

Five non-household suppliers – Business Stream, Everflow, SES Business Water, Water Plus and Wave – misinterpreted a change Ofwat made to its Retail Exit Code (REC) in 2020 for customers on deemed contracts. They should have applied the price cap as a maximum charge per customer – rather than as an average – between April 2020 and March 2023.

This led them to overcharge some customers and undercharge others. CCW said it has worked with those retailers to investigate how many businesses’ bills had been impacted, by how much.

Christina Blackwell, head of business customers at CCW, said: “While we accept that this was a genuine mistake by these five water retailers, it’s certainly not the customers’ fault. The economic climate is really challenging for many smaller businesses at the moment and they cannot afford to be overcharged.

“CCW was disappointed to find that some retailers were very slow to act and were not completely transparent about the number of customers who had been affected. We would have expected these retailers to act swiftly to do the right thing without CCW having to intervene.”

CCW added it made it clear that retailers should not seek to claw money back from undercharged customers, given this was not their fault.

A spokesperson for Water Plus said: “Water Plus is charging in line with the market requirements and pricing is published for all our customers to see each year. As the regulator Ofwat has also stated, Water Plus has not financially benefited from the application of charges set out under the REC pricing mechanisms – and no further steps for charges applied for previous years are required.”

Head of regulatory affairs at Everflow, Lois Gill, said: "As CCW knows, its story significantly misrepresents what happened - certainly as far as Everflow is concerned. We serve a small number of customers on default pricing, but in the case of the few that we do, we applied the old rules on default pricing in the way that we did because it was fairer.

“Instead of charging customers hugely varying amounts depending on their wholesale supply region, we used averages to charge customers in a consistent way no matter where they operate. This actually led to us losing more money than we gained. The new rules around default pricing have recognised and addressed this fairness issue."


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