Big business has warned that a switch should not automatically be perceived as a success for customers in the water retail market, after research found many switchers have had a far from happy experience.
The Major Energy Users’ Council (MEUC), which represents industrial and commercial energy and water customers in the public and private sectors, has published a report summarising its members’ experiences in the first 15 months of the business retail water market. On the back of those experiences, the report, Time to get down to business, also made a series of recommendations on priority actions to improve the market for large water users.
While switchers reported positives from engaging with the market including about 2% average price discounts and better payment terms, many also report ongoing dissatisfaction with billing and access to consumption data. Also, despite being heavily pushed during tenders, and desired by customers, many MEUC members reported they have had to put water efficiency and water management activities to one side in the market so far, to focus on sorting out basics such as billing.
The report commented: “The desire for a single, accurate and timely bill was the top switching motivator among our members, and at present, many are not getting the service they switched for.” MEUC non switchers were largely deterred by low perceived savings and market complexity.
The Council made a series of recommendations to improve customer outcomes, including that poor data quality be tackled urgently and strategically at market level and the retail margin be raised. On the latter, it said: “The 2019 price review provides an opportunity to raise the retail margin without raising the overall bill for customers by holding down wholesale prices. This would benefit businesses by enabling better deals on price and service, as well as galvanising more switching overall and stabilising retail businesses.”
Download the report HERE