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Saturday, Dec 05, 2020

Water company gave man 'home sweet home' card after burst pipe made him to move

A gas engineer has branded a water company ‘insensitive’ after they gave him a card saying ‘welcome to your new home’ after their burst water main flooded his old flat.
Nik Ross, 46, lost £7,000 of his possessions in the flood, which left his ground-floor flat submerged last month. He was forced to leave the property, in Canterbury, Kent, and stay at two hotels before finally being rehoused by South East Water.

The water main burst close to the junction between Whistable Road and University Road at around 4.30 pm on August 11, and left 10 homes without running taps while murky liquid gushed down the street.

It was the second time Mr Ross and his partner Georgina had suffered a burst water main in the same spot. He said: ‘It’s happened to us again, except worse. Last year was unfortunate – but this year they’ve got no excuse.

‘The figure is close to £7,000 of lost items and property, including £697 of locksmith equipment.

‘I’ve lost two days’ work and I’m having to turn certain locksmith jobs down because I haven’t got my equipment.’

Mr Ross received the postcard from South East Water over the weekend. The front of the card is emblazoned with the words ‘home sweet home’ and the back reads: ‘I just wanted to send you a quick note to say congratulations on your new home and I do hope everything has gone smoothly.’

He: ‘My partner’s reaction was to laugh at first because you’d think they’d have a note on our account to say not to send this.

‘I also had a laugh until I read it and saw it said “welcome to your new home”, then the red mist started to descend.

‘While we’ve got somewhere to go, it just doesn’t feel like home. Is this a genuine mistake, a poor attempt at humour or are they taking the mick? For a start that’s extremely insensitive. Is it a good idea to send this particular customer a welcome home postcard?’

Jenny Rhodes, of South East Water, apologised for the card, stating that it was a ‘genuine mistake.’

She said: ‘Usually, when a customer moves into a new home we provide them with all the necessary information about South East Water and, as a courtesy, congratulate them on moving in with a card.

‘Unfortunately, it wasn’t spotted that one of the new accounts was following the flooding and sending this was a genuine mistake on our part for which we are very sorry.’

Ms Rhodes also confirmed that the firm had investigated a report of a leak in the surrounding area but said no evidence was found.

She said: ‘There was not enough water to sample and we had no further reports following our initial investigation. We’re also aware of reports that water was pumped through the pipe too quickly, causing it to burst.

‘This is not true and water was being pumped within our normal operating parameters.’
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