CC Water: business customer complaints up but retailers being constructive

The Consumer Council for Water last week reported complaints from business customers hit 559 in Q2 of market operation (1 July - 30 September), up from 195 in the same period last year. 92% of these complaints were about retailers. The dominant issues were billing and charges (accounting for 324 complaints, up from 104 in Q2 2016) and administration (124 complaints, up from 20 in Q2 2016).

Enquiries to the watchdog from the segment were also up from 104 in Q2 2016 to 348. 90% of all contacts came from SMEs, with the lion’s share (68%) from micro-businesses.

While CC Water had expected contacts to rise in light of retail market opening, it said it is nonetheless putting pressure on retailers to ensure complaint rate trends (these increased at a faster rate in Q2 than in Q1) do not continue on the trajectory. Evan Joanette, policy manager for markets and competition, reported: “Retailers have shown a willingness to work with us to try to ensure some of the initial teething problems are quickly rectified.”

The watchdog has been working with retailers to address some of the emerging difficulties and noted this has already led to improvements, including clearer communication to make it easier to get in touch with retailers and additional training for frontline customer service staff.