A PENSIONER who had to fight for nearly six months to get back the money she was owed by a water company has thanked the Herald for coming to her aid.
Jean Hull, of Highlands Close, High Salvington, was overcharged by more than £200 by Southern Water after there was a water leak in her road at the beginning of August last year.
After gushing for a week, the leak was fixed when the Herald contacted Southern Water.
But, because the leak came from a pipe that was linked to her meter, Jean was charged for the excess water and told the Herald, at the time, she feared she would have a “battle” to get her money back.
A typical water bill for six months’ use, Jean said, would be about £130, but the bill she later received was for £365 and was immediately taken from her account by direct debit.
After sending multiple letters since September and phoning in January, Jean was no closer to getting her money back.
That was until she phoned the firm last Wednesday to tell them she would be contacting the Herald again – prompting the company to phone back later that day and tell her the money would be repaid.
Jean, 75, thanked the Herald for helping her but described Southern Water’s failure to repay her money for nearly six months as “disgraceful”.
She said: “In this financial climate, to leave an elderly couple out of pocket for months is disgraceful. That’s the problem with direct debit.
“It’s very convenient for them to take the money automatically, but when there’s an error they hold on to the money and you’ve got to fight to get it back.”
Jean said she was grateful for the help the Herald had given her on both occasions, adding things would have been different without the paper’s intervention.
She added: “The Worthing Herald is my hero at the moment.”
A Southern Water spokesman said: “We apologise to Mrs Hull for the delay in reimbursing her for this leak.
“Normally when leaks are reported to us they trigger a process which leads to them being fixed and to customers being refunded for any costs they have incurred.
“Regrettably that did not happen in this instance and the leak was fixed but the customer was not contacted to see if they were owed any money.
“Mrs Hull wrote to us in January to remind us that she was due a refund which triggered the reimbursement process. However, we can find no record of any other previous letters or phone calls on the issue.”