Why would you want to pay for clean and waste water that you haven’t yet used? Having a water meter on your premises allows you to have accurate, current bills based on your measured water consumption – there is little point in having a meter if your retailer has decided to estimate your future water usage. 

Billing in advance has become a common issue for customers in our industry, so why would a retailer do this?

Cash flow 

As water retailers, we are charged by the wholesalers for the water that you use before we bill you. Meaning the obvious big win for your water retailer is cash flow – customers paying upfront for the water they haven’t used yet helps the retailer’s access to cash to pay the wholesaler.

The refund process creates a barrier to switching 

The other big win for retailers billing in advance is that it makes customers ‘feel’ like they can’t switch away from that retailer. Customers think that it will be difficult to get a refund for the water they have already paid for but not yet used – It’s a win-win for retailers who do this, right? 

Well, we don’t think so. We don’t want our customers to pay for water they haven’t used or feel stuck with us. We want our customers to stay with us because we are providing good service, accurate bills and because they trust us to be open and honest with them.

Who has been affected by this?  

Based on feedback from customers wishing to switch to us, this issue has created a real barrier to switching – Whether this is only a ‘perceived’ barrier or not, it doesn’t matter. 

Our potential customers are not the only ones frustrated with advanced bills, these recent articles in Farmers Weekly and NFU state that Farmers have been objecting to paying for some of the water they use in advance. The Farming community, who tend to be larger water users have said it’s ‘a step too far’. 

In this fledgling industry, where awareness and switching are relatively low, it poses the question as to why practices that prevent customers who want to switch from switching are being allowed to continue?

How can I switch If I’m being billed in advance?   

  • Get in touch with the water retailer of your choice to arrange the switch 
  • You will then receive an expected switch date from your new retailer  
  • Ask your current retailer to issue a new invoice which ends the date you leave and to cancel your advance invoice  
  • Your previous retailer must refund any funds that are due

Want to switch to Affinity for Business? Click here to find out more and get a quote. 

Do you want to learn more about how Affinity for Business are tackling current issues within the industry? Find out how we are reducing complaint levels in water retail in our recent blog post.  

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