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  • by Karma Loveday

Business gripes in decline as retailers differentiate on performance

Written complaints from businesses to water retailers have fallen for the first time since market opening. Meanwhile there was a clear gap between top- and bottom-performing retailers in CCW’s latest report on non-household market complaints.

CCW reported written complaints to retailers from businesses fell by 20% to 14,300 in 2019-20, while escalated complaints to the watchdog itself were down 14%. Billing issues accounted for three quarters of complaints. All but five retailers – Clear Business Water, Hafren Dyfrdwy, SES Business Water, Veolia and Yu Water – received fewer complaints than in 2018-19.

Despite the improvements, complaints to companies remained 22% higher and complaints to CCW 317% above pre-market levels from 2016-17. There was also a near doubling in 2019-20 to 105 of the most serious case handling failures, where CCW had to carry out a formal investigation.

Chair of CCW, Rob Light (pictured), said: “Many of the complaints and problems again boil down to a small number of the same poor performers who are falling short of the standards that customers have a right to expect.”

The watchdog singled out Clear Business Water (83.9 complaints per 10,000 supply points) and Water Plus (83) as two of the worst performers for the second successive year, with Castle Water and SES Business Water joining them in the bottom four but at significantly lower levels (54.3 and 51.4 respectively).

In contrast, CCW praised in particular Water2Business, Business Stream and Pennon who all reported a reduction in complaints to remain among the best performers, as well as Welsh Water.

Water2Business was the best performing retailer (excluding tiny players with very few customers) with just 14.7 complaints per 10,000 supply points, down 37% since last year. Charley Maher, managing director, commented: "We pride ourselves on the service we provide our customers and we are extremely proud that we have been able to retain our position as best performing retailer in terms of complaints for the third year running.”


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