Business customer complaints about retailers fall for third successive quarter

The number of business customer complaints about retailers raised with the consumer watchdog has reached its lowest level for a year and a half.

CCW – the voice for water consumers – saw the number of complaints made to it by non-household customers fall for a third successive quarter.

CCW handled 812 complaints about retailers between October and December 2019 – the lowest number it has received since the first quarter of 2018/19.

But it has warned that the poor performance of a small number of retailers is largely to blame for complaints still being four times higher than before non-household customers in England were given the freedom to switch retailer in April 2017.

Clear Business Water and Water Plus remained among the worst performers, with Castle Water slipping into the bottom three despite a 13 per cent reduction in complaints.

Adam Boyns, CCW Policy Manager, said: “It’s the first time since the market opened that complaints to us have fallen for a third successive quarter but there remains a long way to go.”

“Far too many customers are still having to complain about the service they are receiving and that will only change when the poor performers get their act together, particularly when it comes to providing clear and accurate bills.”

Water2Business and Business Stream1 retained their places among the least complained about retailers with Pennon joining them in the top three performers for the first time.

CCW compares the performance of retailers based on the number of complaints per 10,000 supply points to take into account the variation in market share among providers.

On that basis, Clear Business Water was the worst performer and CCW will be stepping up its scrutiny of the retailer in an effort to turn around its performance.

Complaints from Water Plus customers have risen during the past two quarters, undermining the progress the market’s largest retailer made in the first three months of the year. It accounted for about 45 per cent of non-household complaints and CCW plans to meet with Water Plus again to discuss how it intends to address the underlying causes.

CCW will also continue to closely monitor the performance of Castle Water, which was the third worst performer despite a fall in complaints. The company has made some progress in reducing complaints about estimated billing and its failure to respond to some customers after meeting with CCW in November 2019.

For more information, call the media team on 0121 345 1005.

1 Business Stream acquired Yorkshire Water Business on 1 October 2019 and their performance includes complaints to both customer bases.