SES Water scolded for rise in customer calls to resolve problems

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has warned SES Water to improve its service after a sharp rise in calls from customers to resolve complaints and other problems.

The Water Watchdog is calling on the Surrey-based supplier to address a 21% increase in ‘unwanted contacts’1 from its customers. It’s the second successive year the company has reported a rise in these telephone calls, which can cause considerable inconvenience for customers.

The latest increase – revealed in CCWater’s annual complaints report – means it is now the second worst performing water company for unwanted contacts across England and Wales. The company did manage to reduce the number of complaints it received in writing from its customers by about 5 per cent.

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

Sir Tony Redmond, London and South East Chair for CCWater, said: “We are disappointed that SES Water has continued to see a rise in calls from customers to resolve problems, especially given the assurances the company gave us last year regarding the steps it would take to reduce this.”

“It’s not unacceptable which is why I’ve asked the company to tell us what it is doing to improve its performance.”

Thames Water could also face similar scrutiny unless it improves its performance on complaints this year. The company is among the worst performers for written complaints and calls from customers to resolve problems, despite a marginal reduction this year.

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)

For more information call the media team on 0121 345 1025

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).