Useless Utilities: Thames Water

Thames Water - good grief they're useless. For reasons too tedious to go into, I have to get our water tested for lead content - "This can be performed by your local water company".

First of all, 'googling' for such a service doesn't really come up with anything definite. Trying to navigate the Thames Water website doesn't turn up much either, so I phoned them. After getting through three or four levels of robo-phone-agent, I spoke to someone who was actually very helpful. He told me he'd put me down for a callback, which could happen any time in the next five days.

I got my callback - it was a voicemail left on my phone. The caller didn't leave his name, or any way to contact him back. However, he told me to visit a particular web page and download the "lead pack". He went on to say that the application would proceed two weeks after they'd received the completed application (two weeks!?).

The pack contains some information and a one-page application form. You have to post it back to them (no email or fax - just snail mail). The application form contains very little information - just your name, address, account number and a couple of "tick boxes" for things about your water supply. I can't imagine why they can't just take this information over the phone (unnecessary job creation, perhaps?).

I tried calling them today (about 5 days after posting the form to them) to ask if they'd received it and that the application was proceeding. They couldn't tell me if they'd received the form, or indeed anything about my application. I was assured though that "they'll call you back before the two weeks". I told them I was worried because I didn't want to wait two weeks to be told that the application hadn't been received, but even this doesn't cut any mustard. All I got back was some "I'm sure everything will be fine" - but still nothing tangible.

Hey Thames Water - the 80s called looking for a self-serving, wasteful monopoly.

Update 28th March: As expected, sending forms in didn't work out as TW "were sure" it would. I sent in two applications, they managed to lose mine and then got confused by the one I sent in for my neighbour. They managed to scan in the cover letter which explained all of this, but still managed to do precisely nothing about anything. I did get a direct number for TW's Lead Team: 0845 366 2963

After explaining why this upset me so much, they have now managed to book an actual test next Wednesday. It then takes 7-10 working days to get a result back from the lab. That means a lead test takes a minimum of 5 weeks from first talking to them to getting a result from them - a least half that time is entirely wasted by them though. Great service, eh?

Submitted by coofercat on Sat, 2013-03-16 21:30