Business water customer complaints rise

Increase “in line with expectations”

The Consumer Council for Water has received 370 complaints from businesses since the water market opened on 1 April, compared with 232 received in the same period the previous year.

The rise is “in line with the consumer group’s expectations”, with many of the complaints relating to “teething problems” which the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) expects to be “swiftly resolved” as the market develops.

The water watchdog has today (3 August) published complaints and enquiries data for the first quarter of 2017/18. The figures show that 54 per cent of the complaints were to do with billing and charges, which is “consistent with previous years”.

Competition has also generated some new types of complaints, with a small number of businesses encountering difficulties finding information about retailers and their tariffs.

There were also some delays in resolving operational issues, including low-water-pressure and leaks, caused by poor communication between retailers and wholesalers. And CCWater intervened to help some household customers who were wrongly classified as being eligible for the non-household market.

However, CCWater chief executive Tony Smith said there is “little to suggest” that customers have so far encountered any major problems with switching or the services they receive from retailers.

The group said it also received six times more enquiries from non-household customers during Q1, compared with the same period last year. Small- and medium-sized businesses accounted for more than 90 per cent of these contacts.

The complaints figures come on the same day as Market Operator Services Limited (MOSL) released its switching figures for the first quarter of 2017/18. Since the market opened on 1 April, 36,302 supply points have switched water retailer. This makes up just 1.4 per cent of the overall market.

Infographic: non-household complaints and enquiries during Q1 2017/18

Source: the Consumer Council for Water