Plymouth car dealer gets water bill for £12,700 after leak
A SMALL business claims it is fighting to survive after being billed £12,700 for a leak they did not know they had.
The bill is set to cost them £12,500 more than their usual monthly rate.
Car Crazy in Eggbuckland only found out there was a leak in their garage when they opened the shock five-figure bill from South West Water.
The water company explained there was a leak somewhere on Car Crazy's Austin Crescent premises – and they would now have to pay for the water loss.
Sales director Peter Foley says that amount – drastically higher than their average water bill of £200 – would have a "crippling" effect on their six-man business.
He said: "We knew nothing about it until we got the bill. That amount for a small business is just crippling.
"And the worst thing about it is we do not really have a choice. It is not like we can change providers – they have got a monopoly and they are saying it has to be paid."
Mr Foley says that his company's water meter is on the public footpath, which is not their property, so they do not regularly check their usage.
After learning about the leak, Car Crazy say they worked to rectify it as soon as possible.
They had an inspector out from South West Water who could not locate the leak so then had to pay £2,500 out of their own pocket to pay a local company to find and fix the problem.
The Eggbuckland business, which has been trading for eight years, was hoping after the quick fixing of the leak that they could strike a compromise over the bill.
"As soon as we found out about the leak we had it fixed within two weeks," claimed Mr Foley.
"We thought to ourselves, 'Great, that's the end of that', but then we got a letter saying we still owed them the amount. It really just needs to be written off.
"To put it into perspective, there was a public water leak on our road just pouring out for a couple of weeks and nothing was done about that – and then we get hit with this massive charge. It makes your blood boil."
South West Water dispute that the leak on the public road was left for so long, although admit that it took 10 days between having the water loss reported and arranging for it to be mended.
The MOT workshop and car sales company are so upset about the high bill that they have even contacted local MP Alison Seabeck who has promised to come and see them about the issue.
Mr Foley, one of three company directors along with Neil Rowe and Adrian Jones, says the bill for the leak could mean the end of the business.
"With this recession we are all struggling – and then something like this happens, on top of all our other bills and taxes. If they turn our water off then that will be the end of us."
The water provider responded to say they would be offering Car Crazy a discount on their bill.
A spokesman for South West Water said: "This was a leak on a customer's pipe for which the customer is responsible.
"As part of our drive to control leakage, we have since given Mr Foley a discretionary leak allowance which has reduced the arrears to £5,635.
"We have one of the best records in the water industry for preventing leakage and we work hard to avoid it being wasted. One of the reasons we give leak allowances is to encourage people to mend leaks as soon as possible.
"We have dealt with Car Crazy in accordance with our published policies, as this is the only way to be fair to all our customers."