The Consumer Council for Water has called on Ofwat to consider tougher sanctions for poorly performing retailers after business customer complaints rose again in the final quarter of 2018/19.
There were 1,078 complaints to the watchdog in Q4, up substantially from 968 in the same period the previous year, and up slightly on the 1,036 gripes registered in Q3 2018/19. Around three quarters (783) in the latest data are about billing and charges.
The watchdog said regulatory action might be needed to tackle the root causes of rising complaints, and called out three of the largest retailers – Water Plus, Castle Water and Wave – for accounting for almost four out of five cases. It pointed out: “That is a disproportionately high number compared to their collective market share.”
Dr Mike Keil, head of policy and research at CC Water, said: “Retailers and wholesalers have had enough time to address many of the same problems that continue to impact the service customers receive. We’re rapidly approaching a point where we may need Ofwat to step in and take action if there is evidence that companies have breached market codes or not met their obligations to customers.”
CCWater is now handling almost five times more complaints from non-household customers than before the market opened. It pointed out these make up only a fraction of the much larger number of cases that are made directly to the companies.