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  • by Karma Loveday

Thames Water to pay £11m to compensate businesses for bad bills

Ofwat is consulting until 17 September on accepting an £11m package of compensation and commitments from Thames Water to make amends for “a multitude of errors” with data handling relating to the opening of the business retail market in 2017.

The regulator launched an investigation under the Water Industry Act 1991 after receiving a complaint that some of the data Thames had submitted to the Central Market Operating System (CMOS) was erroneous and in breach of regulatory obligations. Ofwat found data items used to calculate the invoices for nearly 13,800 supply points were incorrect. Moreover, having uploaded incorrect data, Thames failed to act promptly to investigate complaints about the information.

This led to affected customers being both over and under charged, and impacted retailers’ costs and margins. In some instances, discounts which customers had previously benefited from for their sewerage services were removed.

Ofwat is minded to accept Thames’ proposal to pay £11m to the customers and water retailers adversely affected by the errors; and to a series of undertakings including to strengthen its internal processes and controls relating to how it handles market data and complaints. In light of that it plans to issue only a nominal penalty of £1.

Emma Kelso, senior director at Ofwat said the investigation “uncovered a multitude of errors with the way in which Thames Water handled its data before and after market opening”.

CCW chief, Emma Clancy, said: “Billing and charging issues make up three quarters of business customer complaints to CCW, often caused by poor data. In light of this, CCW will not only be calling for reimbursement to be passed swiftly from retailers to customers, but for compensation to also be offered to the customers affected.”


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