CCWater complaints report ‘shouldn’t compare WOCs and WASCs’

South East Water has suggested the Consumer Council for Water’s annual complaints report should compare overall company performance, rather than comparing WOCs with WASCs.

The water firm said rather than comparing water-only companies (WOCs) against water and sewerage companies (WASCs), the report should compare overall industry performance excluding sewerage, and then including sewerage.

In a consultation in June, CCWater asked a series of questions, including whether companies had concerns about the data which it is currently collecting.

South East Water also argued that connected-property data is “inconsistent”, which “distorts the comparison” between the companies. It proposed the report be modified as follows:

  • Water supply complaints – normalised by number of water supply connections
  • Sewerage complaints – normalised by number of sewerage connections
  • Billing complaints – normalised by the number of connections directly-billed by the company
  • Metering complaints – normalised by the number of metered connections
  • Other complaints – normalised by water supply connections
  • Overall complaints – normalised by water supply connections

CCWater said it would review the suggestions, and would inform companies of any changes that it makes.

Comparing targets

Overall, company responses were supportive of the work that CCWater currently does to make comparative information available for customers and stakeholders, and supported its proposals to continue to collect this information, the group said.

However, a few of the companies insisted that if the data is used for comparative purposes, it must be measured “in a way which can be accurately compared”.

For example, in leakage companies have different targets measured in different ways. Whether or not a company meets its target “does not necessarily provide customers a true comparison of company performance”, Southern Water insisted.

This means a company may miss its leakage target but still have reduced leakage by more than a company which met its target.

Thames Water warned that most AMP6 performance commitments are specific to each company, with different forms of measure and targets for each company. “This means direct comparisons between companies may not be meaningful without the relevant context,” it said.

Meanwhile, on sewer flooding Wessex Water argued that CCWater should place more emphasis on actual incidents rather than on the risk of incidents.

It also suggested leakage should only be reported annually. “Six-monthly leakage values can only be estimated because of the delay in obtaining billing data – in particular from customers whose meters are read on a six-monthly basis,” it argued.

It said it would prefer companies to make their own regional CCWater teams aware of any potential issues with leakage “if they arise” rather than use the template to do so.