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Vulnerable Guildford Resident Tells It Like It Was, Without Water

Published on: 9 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 10 Nov, 2023

A vulnerable Guildford resident has told it like it was for her over the last week during the water supply incident.

Ingie Tyrell, who lives near Guildford Cathedral, writes…

Thursday: I first noticed my water had gone off on Thursday evening, November 2, just before six pm. It became apparent during the time my carer comes in the evening, between 5.30 and 6.30 in the evening.

As this had happened three times previously in the last four to five years, I got straight onto my neighbour Rebecca because the last time we were left without water for a long time and it was awful.

Rebecca is also on social media, unlike me, and on the community board for our local area so could see if anyone else was raising concerns etc. She kindly got online and raised both our issues being told that they were aware. This was said by TW who said our issue had been put up on their affected areas list and that she was now added to the SMS alert list so would get updates as and when there were any, their first lie.

Friday: At 3.15am on Friday, as a vulnerable adult,  I had to contact TW myself as I needed them to deliver me some water. I was at this point informed that the situation was “fixed” and our usual supply would be back up and running very soon.

I expressed my concerns with his information because of my previous experience when the break in supply lasted for 40 hours, but the TW man kept reassuring me this time it was a fact. Sadly, I didn’t record this conversation.

However, true to his word the water did come back on within approximately 20-30 minutes and relief came to us all. But this was short-lived as by around 2.30pm we received notification “NO WATER…” a text that was going to be sent to and from my neighbour and me numerous times over the following week.  But there were no updates via SMS and so many lies were told, not only to us but to many other residents in close proximity.

By Friday evening I was back on to TW requesting emergency water. This time I was told they would get some out to me. First, they said it would be within four hours until I went into a little more personal detail regarding my situation, which I feel I shouldn’t have had to do, and it was reduced to a two-hour window.

I was told to make sure I was available to accept the water from the delivery driver when he arrived and given a reference number. I sat up on my sofa waiting… and waiting! Eventually, I woke up in excruciating pain, part of my disabilities (not good for me to fall asleep as I had). But that’s right, no water delivery!

Saturday: Luckily (we thought) on Saturday morning the water had returned. But that didn’t last.  Of course not, soon enough the water was off again. When my carer arrived at 5.30pm I straight away said to not do my personal care or my dinner as getting water now was so much more of a necessity and as the delivery hadn’t come the night before as promised. I really didn’t know what else to do. I felt I couldn’t risk that happening again.

Our neighbouring village [Onslow] had been prewarned that their water was being turned off and they had a water station opened so we could go and pick some up. With my carer accompanying me, I was able to collect some (my neighbour couldn’t come as she herself was also unwell). At this point I was concerned for my father as he is in Godalming, disabled and also very unwell at the moment although he said he had no water supply issues, as yet.

We checked on our way out of Guildford to see if a water station had opened, as rumoured – but no. So we headed to Godalming, but by the time we got there, faced with the queue and bonfire night traffic/road closures, we had to turn straight around.

We still had no emergency water. On the way home my carer started to dial the helpline for me as I thought I might get further with them. Once home I also got online. Rebecca (my neighbour) was also on hold to the helpline, getting updates on social media where people were actually being told their water was back on when it clearly wasn’t as they were turning the taps whilst talking to TW.

The things TW were telling people were just ludicrous and making people so much more frustrated. Blaming the “massive” storm [Ciaran] we had and the “heavy’ rain”. People kept being told the issue was resolved Friday and Saturday but still NO WATER and more than likely the problem to continue. I had no faith left in anything they said. Why should I have had?

Online chat from TW told me the problem was “resolved” and I didn’t need to be supplied water. I eventually got through to a lady on the phone who told me that was not the case and that customer service shouldn’t be telling people incorrect information! According to her, it was very clear on her screen that they didn’t know what was going on or how long things were going to take.

She raised my need for bottle water delivery whilst I was on the phone with her and even though she couldn’t contact the delivery people it felt like she did actually do all she could and I appreciated her honesty. It was an amazing difference.

10 minutes later she called me back and within half an hour I had five sixpacks of bottled water delivered! The delivery man was also more than helpful and told me should I need more to just get on to customer service and request it… If only!

Sunday: Sunday morning a phone call from my dad. Now he no water. I couldn’t leave him without, he had no way of getting it and I knew he couldn’t cope with TW customer service.

So off round the countryside we went after managing to have showers our end and put a couple of washes on.

My father lives in sheltered accommodation, not many residents there can get out but TW had done nothing to help these people either! I did have help from Rebecca and my wheelchair but it still wasn’t easy.

Then when we got back NO WATER!

Monday: Monday morning, The water had come back on and I’m in the shower covered in foam but I can tell the pressure is going again… quickly I rushed to finish but OUCH…  I get burnt all over my stomach. This is getting beyond a joke now.

Perhaps, as they clearly know they are going to be affecting our water supply, we should be getting SMS alerts instead of silence. It’s another thing so many residents are frustrated about as most of us who’ve been in contact with TW have signed up for the message service.

There is also the 12-hour financial compensation scheme. If water is off continuously for 12 hours a customer is due £30 compensation but with the water coming back periodically, before a 12-hour period is up, compensation might be prevented. It makes us wonder if this is just coincidence.

I had given up contacting TW by this point as they hadn’t got anything honest to tell anybody until it happened again on Tuesday and I was running low on water.

Tuesday: Again I get onto the online chat and the helpline. Again I get told two different stories. This time the guy on the phone asks for the online person’s name as he says that the lies being told are making his job and that of his colleagues harder.

He then tells me they are only delivering water to people registered disabled which should be flagged on my account. Once this has all been rectified I am told I will be getting a delivery. I again wait and wait.

As I was told this time I would get a phone call prior to delivery I do go up to bed. It starts getting really late so I call back, I’m on hold that long I fall asleep (by Tuesday evening I have not only caught whatever bug everyone else had but was suffering the knock-on effect of this whole incident which has been detrimental on my health and I am having a huge flare-up). As you can probably guess, I didn’t get a water delivery as promised again on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday: Yesterday, I did think it was possibly because the water was on all day until I got a phone call around 2.45pm from a water delivery man he asked if I had water but still offered to drop it in 20 minutes. Hmm, suspicious. Four lots of water. I was right to be suspicious as the water supply went off again whilst my carer was here.

There seemed to be a bit of a pattern to the times the water had gone off.

I have been left fed up with the online chat lies and rudeness, they have not finished conversations with people before leaving the chat.

I hope we are all properly compensated regardless of their protocols.  It’s been a disgrace.

The Guildford Dragon will ask Thames Water to respond.

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