Negotiating with the water company
September 1, 2010 12:24 AM Subscribe
Water company is about to chase me for money - it's their fault they didn't contact me about this for a year. Is my strategy for negotiating this issue sensible?
posted by xchmp to Work & Money (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So, I moved in about a year ago. Prior to moving I called and informed the water company of my new address, which is also part of their supply area. They did a search and were unable to find the place in their records, so told me they'd have to do a full property search. I moved in and didn't think any more about this.
I got a letter yesterday asking me to supply information about when I moved in and set up a direct debit for the future. This was addressed to "The Occupier" and not me by name. I'm happy to pay for my water from this point, but I'm substantially less happy about the idea of having to pay for a full year all at once. So, I have a strategy for dealing with this. My goals are:
1. Pay the minimum possible amount for the year prior to them contacting me.
2. Avoid any hit on my credit rating.
3. Pay in full from this point onwards.
Water companies in the UK cannot cut people off for non-payment, so this isn't a concern.
So, in order to achieve this, I'm thinking about doing the following:
1. Call the water company, give them the information they want - dates I moved in, etc. State the following:
* I do not expect to pay anything for the time between the date I moved in and the date they first contacted me about this (yesterday). They are at fault for not contacting me after I informed them of my change of address.
* I will be willing to set up a direct debit to pay going forward as soon as the issue around the previous payment is resolved.
2. I think the response to the above will be that I'll have to pay the full amount. I'm going to escalate the call as far as I can until I get someone who's willing to negotiate and has the financial authority to do so.
3. If the answer's still no, which I suspect will be the case, I'll offer to pay 25% of the total owed. I'll state that this is the maximum amount I can afford to pay at once, and if more is needed we'll need to discuss some kind of payment arrangement.
4. If this offer is rejected, I'll take this to a formal complaint, advising them that if I cannot get a satisfactory outcome via their internal complaints procedure, I'll take this to the consumer council for water.
5. Escalate as above.
I've not really tried to do this kind of negotiation in the past, although I've had some training in negotiation via my job, so I'm interested in what people think of this strategy and what you'd do differently. (Having seen how similar questions have gone in the past, I'm not interested in being told that I have a moral duty to pay the whole amount because I've been using the water - yes, I've been using the water, but this is about negotiating the best possible outcome around that obligation.)
One point I haven't thought about is what to do if they ask for a payment arrangement for the full amount - how much should I offer to pay per month for this? I also think its probably best to deal with this issue as soon as possible rather than waiting for further chasing letters/investigation, but I'm open to suggestion.