The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has told England’s second largest water retailer, Castle Water, to address unacceptable levels of complaints from its customers.
The Water Watchdog has been increasing the pressure on the retailer after several months of high complaint levels to CCWater from businesses and other non-household customers served by Castle Water.
The company accounted for around 44 per cent of the 1,630 complaints CCWater received about retailers operating in the non-household market in England between 1 September last year and the end of February 2018. Complaints about Castle Water were more than double the industry average, when taking into account the total number of supply points.
CCWater was encouraged to see signs of improvement in complaint numbers and call handling in February but wants to see this trend continue over the long term.
Castle Water purchased the non-household retail businesses of Thames Water and Portsmouth Water prior to the market opening last April, taking over the provision of services including billing and meter reading to thousands of businesses and other non-household customers.
Sir Tony Redmond, CCWater’s London and South East Chair, said: “Many of the businesses that have contacted us have been angry and frustrated at Castle Water’s handling of their accounts and complaints.”
“We’ve made very clear to the company it needs to do better and we will continue to shine a light on its performance and any other retailers where we have serious concerns.”
CCWater has seen a higher than expected rise in complaints from customers of some of the retailers since the opening of the non-household retail water market in England last April, when customers were given the freedom to shop around for a better deal.
Behind the scenes the Water Watchdog has been closely involved in working groups where many retailers have shown a willingness to share good practice and help resolve problems.
CCWater will be highlighting the best and worst performing retailers when it publishes its first annual market complaints report in the summer. The report will feature all customer complaints made directly to retailers, as well as those made to the watchdog.
Update: An investigation by Ofwat, concluded in 2021, confirmed that the performance of Castle Water as detailed within this press release was influenced by inaccurate data provided by Thames Water.
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