Stephen Rabjohns, of the Green Man in Hixon, said he received a £600 refund, backdated by one year, from Severn Trent Water after he discovered that he had been mistakenly paying a surface water drainage bill for two decades.
He said he only realised he had been overpaying during recent building work at the pub, when he noticed that the water drains into the brook by his pub. The bill only needs to be paid if a property’s surface water drains into the public sewer system.
Severn Trent acknowledged the mistake and switched Rabjohns from a band 7 tariff to band 3, which will save him around £500 a year, but Rabjohns said he should be paid back thousands. “They admit there’s been a mistake but they blame me, saying I should have checked my surface water. It stinks, they should backdate the bill by 20 years,” he told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser. “There must be pubs up and down the country that will be in the same situation as me.”
A Severn Trent spokesperson said it regularly states on bill reminders that customers should contact the company if they think their bills are incorrect.
It added: “If there is found to be a difference in what customers are paying and what they should be paying, we either give them a refund or charge them for the extra. However, it is our policy, which is approved by Ofwat, to only do this from the previous April.
“We’re sorry that Mr Rabjohns feels he’s been overcharged, but this is the fairest way to calculate our bills. It works both ways; if customers have been undercharged, then they only pay us the extra owed since the previous April too.”
A spokesperson from Ofwat, the water company regulator, said: “Severn Trent Water can increase the amount refunded should they wish to, but this is currently at their discretion.
“Ofwat is actively looking at situations where customers may be overcharged, with the objective of getting a fairer outcome for customers like Mr Rabjohns. We encourage all customers to check whether they are connected for Surface Water Drainage and that the size of the site being charged for is correct. They should inform their company if they are not, so they are not charged for a service they don’t receive.”