Irish Water prepares ground for refunds

Refunds may take place before Christmas but this is dependent on Bill becoming law

People taking part in an anti-water charges protest. Photograph: Eric Luke

People taking part in an anti-water charges protest. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Irish Water is this week launching a campaign aimed at ensuring everyone who paid the controversial charges will have their money returned as soon as the necessary legislation is passed by the Oireachtas.

The utility has launched a dedicated refunds website page water.ie/refunds and will start placing radio advertisements across local and national stations advising customers to contact Irish Water on 1850-448448 if their address has changed and they have yet to update their details.

Refunds of water charge payments could be processed before Christmas, but this is dependent on the Water Services Bill becoming law.

The Bill provides for refunding about €173 million, paid by 999,000 householders. It also provides for the charging of households for excessive water use.

The legislation aims to draw a line under the water saga, which convulsed national politics for three years.

If a customer’s address or personal details have not changed, they will not have to contact Irish Water and will get their refund automatically via a cheque sent to the account holder at the address they provided to the utility.

The company said it was making the payments with cheques rather than bank transfers because it was the “quickest and most efficient means of payment”, and the one that “provides the highest level of security” as only the account holder can lodge the cheque and Irish Water can cancel any cheques sent to incorrect addresses or individuals.

The company said cheques also ensure Irish Water will not need to have holders’ bank account details and customers can be clear that at no time will anyone from Irish Water contact them looking for such details.

Big questions

Speaking in advance of the start of refunds, head of customer operations for Irish Water, Eamon Gallen, said the two big questions customers had was how much they would receive and when they would get it.

“Household customers can be assured that they will receive the full amount they paid, and customers will shortly be able to check online exactly how much they are due and when there are likely to receive their refund.”

He said Irish Water had been working in the background for several months “to ensure that refunds will be ready to go as soon as we are authorised to do so by Government”.

He said the company’s priority was to ensure that those who paid their household charges get their refund as quickly and efficiently as possible.

He urged customers who had not informed it of a change of address to do so now “so that their details are up to date and there is no delay in issuing their cheque”.