Retailers still failing to turn tide of business complaints

Retailers must do more to turn the tide of non-household complaints received by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), as the water market approaches its second anniversary.

New figures released by the Water Watchdog reveal it received 1,037 complaints from businesses during the third quarter of the year – almost 200 more than during the same period last year.

There was only a marginal improvement on the second quarter of 2018/19, which had represented the worst three-month period for complaints to CCWater since the market opened for business in April 2017.

Grievances about billing and charges accounted for seven out of ten complaints received by CCWater between October and December 2018, with poor market data often the root cause of problems.

Evan Joanette, Policy Manager at CCWater, said: “The market was supposed to simplify billing for businesses, not create an unnecessary headache for them.”

“Some retailers have demonstrated it is possible to drive down complaints and deliver a better level of service. As we approach the second anniversary of competition we need to see an improving picture across the whole market.”

Customers should be able to make an informed choice when they consider switching retailers, which is why CCWater has called for more performance data to be made available. This can also help to increase the pressure on retailers and wholesalers that are letting customers down.

There has been some progress in this area with market operator MOSL recently publishing information showing when companies had last read customers’ meters. It’s an important step in challenging market traders to provide more frequent meter readings, reducing the risk of inaccurate or disputed bills.

In the summer, CCWater will also be publishing its second annual report giving non-household customers the chance to compare the complaints performance of retailers.

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