CUSTOMER complaints to water companies have fallen for a seventh successive year – but the gap between the industry’s best and worst performers remains unacceptable, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
CCWater’s annual Written Customer Complaints report has revealed most water companies are doing a good job in meeting the water watchdog’s challenge to get more things ‘right first time’ for customers.
That’s reflected in a 13.4 per cent fall in written customer complaints to water companies in England and Wales during 2014/15 – down from more than 123,000 to fewer than 107,000. Telephone calls made by customers to water companies to resolve problems have also continued to fall broadly in line with written complaints.
Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We expect the water industry to continually try and improve its services to customers and many water companies deserve credit for rising to that challenge year after year.
“However the gulf between the best and worst performers remains unacceptable.”
Billing and charges accounted for almost 60 per cent of the total number of complaints in 2014/15. In December 2014 most water companies committed to reducing bills, before inflation, by 2020 after CCWater successfully pressed the industry to listen to their customers’ views on price and service. But companies still need to work hard to convince more of their customers they are delivering value for money.
Southern Water remained the worst performing company for the third successive year, despite an almost 13 per cent reduction in 2014/15. Its complaint levels are more than twice the industry average and it must intensify its efforts to move into line with other companies.
South East Water was the only water-only company to receive more complaints than the industry average, but CCWater is encouraged to see such a large reduction in 2014/15 which suggests that the company is beginning to turn a corner.
Four water companies – Anglian Water, Affinity Water, Portsmouth Water and Hartlepool Water – bucked the overall industry trend by reporting an increase in complaints.
Wessex Water and Cambridge Water both reported further reductions in complaints to cement their places as the industry’s best performers, alongside Portsmouth Water.
You can read the full report Read the full report (pdf)