Thames Water takes payments from customers early in direct debit blunder
Utility giant Thames Water has mistakenly taken thousands of customers' direct debit payments a day early after a "system error", MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal. If you've been hit by bank charges as a result, you can get a refund but you'll need to ask for it – we've full help below.
The problem affects those whose direct debits are normally taken on the 14th of each month. Thames Water says customers whose April payment was due to be taken on Wednesday 14 April instead had it taken on Tuesday 13 April.
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How to check if you're affected
We first became aware of the issue after one of the MoneySavingExpert.com team who is also a Thames Water customer – MSE James – was sent an email from the company admitting to the mistake.
Thames Water says it's now emailed all affected customers who have given the firm an email address. But if it doesn't have your email address, it is still possible you may have been affected and haven't been told.
If in doubt, check your bank account – if your direct debit's normally taken on the 14th, it may have been taken on the 13th instead. Thames Water won't say how many customers in total have been affected by the issue, though it's understood to be less than 30,000.
You can get bank charges refunded – but you'll need to ask
If the unexpected payment means you were charged fees by your bank, for example because it pushed you into an overdraft, Thames Water says it will cover the cost.
If you need to claim a refund, you should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with:
- A subject line of 'Bank charges'
- Your Thames Water account number
- Evidence of the bank charges, eg, a bank statement or letter from your bank
- Whether you'd prefer the refund to be paid as credit on your Thames Water account or cash into your bank account
Make sure you keep any paperwork or statements showing charges, such as overdraft fees. And if you haven't yet incurred bank charges but are worried the direct debit payment being taken early may mean you are in due course, keep checking your account.
What does Thames Water say?
A Thames Water spokesperson said: "We're sorry for any inconvenience this isolated system error has caused our customers. We sent emails to all those who have provided us with their email address to apologise and have promised to cover any bank charges they incur. We're also reviewing our processes to ensure this kind of mistake isn't repeated in the future."