Money Grouse: Whinge about water wins the whisky prize

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The Money Grouse competition produced a bumper bundle of niggles, moans and downright outrage.

The targets of readers' complaints were, inevitably, banks, building societies, the Inland Revenue, the Department of Social Security, fund managers, registrars and insurance companies.

But the winner, who receives three bottles of Famous Grouse Finest Scotch Whisky, was complaining about the company that delivers the water to mix with the whisky.

Tom Pasmore from Uxbridge, Middlesex, complains that the Rickmansworth Water Company, part of the Three Valleys Water Company, was less than straight when it changed the billing of the standing charge from six months in arrears to three months in arrears and three months in advance.

An 'important notice' enclosed with the changed bill referred to new routes for the meter readers, but did not spell out the change. 'I felt it was wrong of the water company to introduce the change under a false pretext,' Mr Pasmore said. 'I received no apology and was told I was lucky to have 'got away' with the previous arrangement for so long.'

A spokesman for the water company, a private business, said: 'Perhaps we could have explained better. In money terms he gains by paying for the water he uses in arrears as he is on a metered supply, and he is also paying half the standing charge in arrears. I apologise if there was any confusion.'

Our second prize goes to John Samson, a chemistry teacher from Edinburgh, who complains about insurance companies that sell packaged holiday insurance that duplicates cover already paid for on household policies.

'If I lay five bets with different bookmakers, all on the same horse, and it wins, they all have to pay up. Yes?' he asks. But when it comes to insurance, only one of the insurance companies will pay up if an item is double-covered.

The insurers say the purpose is to put you back in the position you would have been without the disaster, not to make you richer.

So, he wants to know why he cannot buy a la carte insurance and avoid paying twice for some cover. In fact, he can. Bupa is launching an Essentials policy on Christmas Day that costs pounds 11.70 for Bupa members and pounds 13 for non-members for 17 days in Europe to cover medical problems, repatriation, emergency cash and legal advice only. Full cover would cost pounds 19.90, or pounds 22.10 for non-members.

The five runners-up will receive miniature bottles of Famous Grouse. They are Mrs R Beech of Gwent, the Rev Canon Richmond Gurney of Cumbria, Mrs Janet Harvey of Surrey, Michael Kearney of Hertfordshire, and Steve Strevens of Surrey.

(Photograph omitted)

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