Cambridge Water told to improve after customer complaints soar

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has warned Cambridge Water to improve its performance after a substantial rise in complaints from its customers.

Today’s (20 September) report by the water watchdog, CCWater, shows that written complaints made to Cambridge Water rose by almost 250 per cent during 2016/17. It was the highest percentage increase of any water company in England and Wales.

There was also a 37 per cent rise in the number of customers who had to pick up the phone to try and resolve an issue with the water-only company, known as an ‘unwanted contact’.1

CCWater has told Cambridge Water to report back to it by the end of October and explain what steps it is taking to improve its performance.

Professor Bernard Crump, Central and Eastern Chair for CCWater, said: “Cambridge Water had been one of the industry’s best performers so we are disappointed it has let that position slip with this substantial increase in complaints.”

“We are seeking assurances that it has got to grips with the causes of customers’ dissatisfaction. That’s why I’ve asked the company to report back to me by the end October to explain what steps it is taking to improve its performance.”

Cambridge Water has attributed a large part of the increase in complaints to teething problems caused by the transfer of its customer service operations to the offices of its parent company South Staffs Water.

There was better news for customers of Anglian Water which reported a 25 per cent fall in written complaints, with unwanted contacts decreasing by 17 per cent.

Across England and Wales written complaints to the water industry fell by 11 per cent during the year but there was a 2 per cent rise in the number of customers who had to pick up the phone to resolve an issue with their water company.

Customers who are unable to resolve their complaint with their water company can turn to CCWater for free help and advice. During 2016/17 the independent watchdog helped customers with more than 8,700 complaints about their water company and secured over £1.3 million in financial redress.

You can read the full CCWater report here (pdf)

1 Unwanted contacts do not exclusively include complaints and can cover a wide range of telephone calls where customers have reported a service issue or had to chase their water company for action to be taken.