Survey shows big businesses are engaging with water market

'Teething issues' expected to be 'ironed out over time'

The majority of large companies have responded to the opening up of the water retail market by switching or renegotiating with suppliers.

A survey by the Major Energy User’s Council (MEUC) showed  that 70 per cent of companies have engaged with the market since it was opened to competition in April this year.

The survey further revealed that 26 per cent of businesses had switched or are in the process of doing so, while 13 per cent had renegotiated existing contracts and another 30 per cent were considering options.

“We have long supported choice for our members in water, and are delighted with the smooth start,” said MEUC chief executive, Peter Roper. “The high switching and engagement figures show our members are finding benefits worth having.

However, Roper warned that the market needs to “up its game” as the survey revealed mixed experiences of switching and customer satisfaction. While 42 per cent of firms were positive about their switching experience, 28 per cent said it had been ‘not good’.

Billing was identified as the major difficulty that companies experienced, with respondents citing problems including inaccurate billing, wrong tariffs and payments not being allocated correctly.

Other issues included inaccurate data in the central market system, wih site details being incorrect and meter serial numbers missing.

There were also mixed levels of satisfaction regarding retailer and broker services, although more than half of the firms surveyed believed that the new market would improve their experience as a water company.

“We expect teething issues to be ironed out over time and urge that all parties work together to ensure this is done as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Roper.

The survey was timed to assess experiences after the first quarter of live trading.