Why can’t I get my water charges refund?

Pricewatch: ‘After six months I have no idea what is happening to my €199.78’

In a statement Irish Water said it was “continuing to issue cheques and engage with customers as part of the refund process”.

In a statement Irish Water said it was “continuing to issue cheques and engage with customers as part of the refund process”.

 

A reader called Catherine describes herself as “one of those unfortunates who paid my water charges as I considered it was the right and fair thing to do”.

She is also one of those unfortunates who has yet to get her money back despite months and 11 phone calls – averaging around 20 minutes each time.

“When I call Irish Water I get put through my paces with account numbers, WPRN numbers, verification of address and mobile numbers etc. always by polite customer service agents. Unfortunately, the efficiency ends with the verification process. After six months I have no idea what is happening to my €199.78 charges refund but, more alarmingly, neither does Irish Water,” she says.

Her initial queries were “met with a reassurance that there was a slight hold up because of the pressure of work but my refund would be with me shortly. On later calls I was asked to verify my address and post code with the suggestion that the cheque may have gone astray.”

When she finally got to speak with a supervisor she was told she was “a raised case” and that head office had sanctioned her repayment and the cheque would be with me in four to five working days. That was on May 8th.

“In the course of a 37-minute phone call today I was told by a male supervisor that there is now an IT issue which means refunds need to be approved by head office and await going to the printers before being returned to the admin department for posting out. My experience with Irish Water has been totally negative and it seems that the staff, although extremely polite, are unable to deal with basic queries.”

Lesson learned

She is retired and would greatly appreciate the return of her charges. “If I were a single mother or an elderly person who had to make sacrifices to pay Irish Water then I would feel even more aggrieved. Lesson learned. Any future water charges will have to be dragged out of me. I just don’t understand how Irish Water can be quite so complacent.”

In a statement Irish Water said it was “continuing to issue cheques and engage with customers as part of the refund process”. A spokeswoman said there “may be a small percentage of customers who have moved abroad or passed away and who will never seek a refund but the funding allocation is there and will remain available to them or their estate. These funds are kept in a separate account.

She said Irish Water have issued 96 per cent of refunds totalling €166 million to more than 950,000 customers. There is an additional €6 million left to refund. There was a cost of €6 to administer and process and the refunds project.

“Irish Water is engaging with the customer you brought to our attention directly. The circumstances experienced by this customer fall well below the service level that Irish Water sets for itself and we have apologised to the customer for the delays.”