Credit File Mark / Thames Water Rant

Hey Folks,

Thought I’d post about an issue that’s cropped up today. Hopefully it’s resolved, but watch this space.

Long story…

About 6 months ago, I left a flat I was renting with some friends. I paid all the direct debits for our bills, so when I left, I had the arduous task of closing all accounts so that my housemates could set up new ones (or simply transfer existing to their name where allowed). Ensue many hours of being on hold to Southwark Council & Thames Water, but eventually it was all sorted…

Last week, I completed on a flat so have now registered a new direct debit with Thames Water for the property. Today in the post, I receive a letter with my account details, so I login and see that my previous accounts are listed as being ‘closed’.

Makes sense to me so far…

Except… when I click on the closed account (no real reason for me to do so) I see that I’ve been sent a “Final Notice” dated mid August, and that after 28 days (so, yesterday) debt collectors will be on my case and I’ll raise a payment default against me.

Obviously this causes panic!

I dial the number on the letter and it won’t let me speak to a human, so I call their main line, and after 30 minutes on hold I speak to someone who agrees that, yes I did pay the final bill in March and this is their mistake. They will issue a dispute on my behalf, and any mark on my file will go away.

I’ve asked for confirmation in writing, as I was told in March that everything was done & dusted so I don’t have great confidence.

This is obviously quite frustrating/upsetting - if this had happened a week earlier, this could’ve put my mortgage at risk… quite feasibly I could have Exchanged, but not been able to Complete if the bank saw a payment default on my record prior to the mortgage draw-down. Horrible thought.

Thames Water have been utterly incompetent whenever I’ve dealt with them (bar this final person, though it’s still not done & dusted). I’ve spent hours on hold, and whilst they’ve admitted their mistake, I still have no great faith in them resolving.

I’ve spoken to my old housemates who received a letter addressed to me from TW in July. It wasn’t marked ‘Urgent’ or ‘Important’ etc. so they didn’t pass it on… Not ideal behaviour but the culprits are TW here not my ex-housemates. Thames Water have not once called, or emailed me. Sending 1 letter, 4 months after they know I’ve moved out is simply not acceptable.

Will update once it’s resolved but wanted to vent!

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They told you they would apply a CIFAS marker against you?

CIFAS markers are for fraud aren’t they, not outstanding debts?

I’ve edited as you’re correct, they don’t mention CIFAS but a ‘payment default’ which would stay on my record for 6 years.

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Ah I see, I’m glad they didn’t threaten you with that at least. Sounds awful and definitely would have impacted on your Mortgage application. Hope it gets confirmed as resolved soon!

Another hour on the phone today. I keep speaking to the same two people, which seems very strange to me (it’s not like I’ve provided any reference, or account number by the time I’m connected) given they have 9,000 staff (not all customer services, of course).

I had to explain the whole situation again, and fortunately the notes from the previous agent corroborated everything, as she was really struggling to grasp the situation. She kept saying “It says you owe money. It says you’ve paid money” … it felt a lot like ‘Computer says no’.

I’ve been told to email another department within Thames Water, so I’ve now had to explain the situation for a third time. Apparently it will take 10 working days to get a response (terrible, given they send the debt collectors round after 28 days!). I get this response from Thames Water - shoddy… typos and all.

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I can hand on heart say this is the WORST customer service I’ve ever had. By a country mile. Particularly poor given the ramifications this likely would’ve had on my mortgage draw-down.

I’m getting a £50 credit applied to my account, but I’d pay £500 to never deal with Thames Water again frankly! I’ve asked for email confirmation outlining that:

  1. I do not owe any money.
  2. The credit mark will be disputed/rescinded by Thames Water.
  3. I’m receiving the the £50 credit.

They said they’d send one yesterday and didn’t, so I’m not holding my breath. Absolutely fuming with them.

Be interested to know if there would be further recourse here? Not for more money, but simply to highlight the terrible flaws in the system… some kind of ombudsman or something. I’ll see where this ends up but my gosh, frustrating.

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Not that I’ve had to go through it, but there’s the Consumer Council for Water and then beyond them Ofwat (but they’ll expect you to use CCW first).

Any Ombudsmen usually expects sufficient time to have passed, or to be issued a deadlock letter.

You could just go ‘all in’ and email the Chief Executive’s office (chiefexecutive@thameswater.co.uk) - I imagine suggesting that you want to escalate to CCW/Ofwat might make them take a little more interest (although if a customer complains directly to the CEO’s office, it’s normally dealt with pretty swiftly).

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