Bristol Water faces closer scrutiny after rise in customer complaints

A water company is facing closer scrutiny after being challenged to curb a sharp rise in complaints by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

The Water Watchdog has called on Bristol Water to address a 52 per cent rise in written complaints from its customers during 2017/18. The increase was higher than any other company in England and Wales, according to the figures published today (Thursday) in CCWater’s annual complaints report.

The report also shows that the number of Bristol Water customers that had to pick up the phone to resolve a problem during the year rose by almost 37 per cent.

Bristol Water and two other water companies have been told to report back to CCWater by the end of October to explain what steps they are taking to improve their performance.

David Heath CBE, Western Chair for the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We are disappointed to see such a large increase in complaints from a company that was once among the better performers in the industry.”

“We recognise that is has been a challenging year with a number of major incidents causing disruption to customers’ supplies but we want reassurances that the company is taking swift action to improve so it quickly returns to a position of strength.”

Across England and Wales consumers had to make more than 2.1 million telephone calls to resolve problems last year, with nine out of 21 water companies reporting an increase. Four companies also reported an increase in written complaints from their customers, although the number to the industry as a whole fell.

Fewer household customers had to turn to CCWater for help resolving a dispute in 2017/18, with the watchdog handling 6,815 complaints from household customers – down 13 per cent.2 The watchdog helped to return almost £1.4 million in financial redress to customers.

You can read the full CCWater report here (pdf)

1 Unwanted contacts do not just 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.

2 CCWater saw a substantial rise in complaints from non-household customers during 2017/18. More details can be found in our separate Non-Household Complaints Report (pdf).

Categories: Press Releases, Western