Water Watchdog pushing for improvement during second year of market

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) is pushing for a marked improvement from some poor performing water retailers after non-household complaints to the water watchdog more than tripled during the first year of the retail market in England.

CCWater received 972 complaints from non-household customers during the final three months of 2017/18 to take the overall total for the year to 2,782, compared to 824 in the 12 months leading up to the market opening.

But the watchdog said the increase had been driven by a small number of retailers and was not a reflection on all suppliers, many of which had delivered a good service and avoided most of the problems encountered by their poor performing competitors.

Phil Marshall, Deputy Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We had anticipated that complaints would rise as the market finds it feet but the increase has been higher than we expected and that’s largely down to a small number of retailers.”

“The good news is that most of the complaints we’ve received relate to service issues that retailers have the power to put right. If the poor performers get their act together we should see a significant improvement over the next 12 months and that’s what we are pushing for.”

CCWater believes wholesalers also have an important role to play in helping retailers to resolve some of the issues they have encountered.

The trend of rising complaints to CCWater slowed slightly during the final quarter of the year as the water watchdog continued to work with retailers and wholesalers to address a number of problems for customers. This included putting forward recommendations to improve policies on leakage allowances and temporary disconnection to ensure customers were treated fairly.

The best and worst performing retailers for complaints will be revealed in a report set to be published by CCWater in late June.

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