Yorkshire Water has taken inspiration from the energy sector, where suppliers are obliged to ensure that their customers are on the best possible tariff, and is piloting a scheme which could lower thousands of customers’ bills.
The company will review the accounts of up to 100,000 customers who it thinks would likely save money from having a water meter installed and offer these customers a two-year meter trial. If customers do not save money, Yorkshire will switch them back to the unmetered rate.
If the pilot is successful, the company is considering rolling the principle out to all its unmetered customers as part of a “price promise” at the heart of its proposals for the next five-year period. Under this proposal, which Yorkshire said would be an industry first, the company would commit to review the accounts of approximately 650,000 customers who do not have meters to identify those who might be better off on a metered supply.
Director of finance, markets and regulation Liz Barber said: “We are a monopoly so customers do not get a choice of who supplies their water – they cannot go on a price comparison website to find out if they could be better off. Because of this we have an extra responsibility. It’s not enough for us to wait for them to contact us and request a meter, really looking after our customers means that we should proactively contact them and ensure that they are not paying more than they need to.”
In addition the company is reassessing its approach to customers in financial difficulty who are finding it difficult to pay their bills. Barber explained: “We know that around one in five of our customers potentially has problems in paying their water bill. By using new analytic techniques, its possible for us to proactively identify those customers who might be at risk of being in this position. We can then contact them to identify what alternatives might be open to them or see if they qualify for one of our reduced social tariffs.”