Thames Water named among worst performers for customer complaints

Thames Water has been warned it must show a marked improvement after being named one of the industry’s worst performers for customer complaints.

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has called on England’s largest water company to reverse a 10 per rise in customers having to pick up the phone to resolve service problems, along with a 24 per cent spike in written complaints during 2018/19.

It’s one of four companies across England and Wales that have been challenged over their poor performance in the consumer group’s annual household complaints report.2 Thames Water must now provide CCWater with quarterly reports setting out the progress it is making to get back on track.

Sir Tony Redmond, CCWater’s Chair for London and the South East, said: “Our concerns over Thames Water’s complaint handling have been growing over the past two years and it has not shown enough urgency in putting things right.”

“The company has now put together a task force to make sure customers get a better service but we want to see evidence in the coming months that it’s resulting in far fewer complaints.”

No other water company reported a higher number of complaints about its water supply than Thames Water as many customers complained about disruption and low pressure. It also had the worst record for failing to resolve customers’ complaints at the first time of asking.

Across England and Wales as a whole, households had to make just over 2 million calls to water companies to resolve issues with service – about 60,000 less than the previous year. That outweighed the increase in complaints made in writing which rose by nearly 5,400.

However, more customers had to turn to CCWater for help resolving a dispute in 2018/19 as the watchdog stepped in to help return over £600,000 in financial redress to households that were let down by their supplier.

You can read the full CCWater report here

Notes to editors

The report compares companies’ performance on a measure called ‘unwanted contacts’. These telephone calls do not just include complaints and can cover a wide range of contacts where customers have reported a service issue or had to chase their water company for action to be taken.

We compare individual company performance based on complaints per 10,000 connected households, to account for the differences in company size.