Customer complaints against water companies have fallen for the fifth successive year according a report from the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
Nearly 151,000 people in England and Wales wrote to their supplier to complain in the year up to March, a 7.4% drop on the previous year. It’s still less than last year’s reduction when complaints were cut by 12.4%.
Billing and charging unsurprisingly remained the greatest source of frustration, accounting for 56% of all complaints.
The worst performing company was Southern Water, which saw the biggest increase in complaints – 77%. Not only that, it also had the most overall complaints – nearly 120 per 10,000 customers – making it the worst out of both the combined water and sewage suppliers and the water only suppliers.
Not far behind was South East Water, which despite 32% reduction in complaints, was still the worst performing water only company, with just under 100 complaints per 10,000 customers.
At the opposite end of the spectrum were Wessex Water and Portsmouth Water. Around 20 people per 10,000 complained to Wessex Water, marking an 8.5% reduction and putting it at the top of the table for combined water and sewage companies.
Despite seeing one of the worst increases in complaints – 29% – Portsmouth remained the leading water only company, with around 10 out of every 10,000 customers writing in to complain.
Tony Smith, chief executive of consumer body CCWater said: “We are concerned the rate at which complaints have fallen has slowed and the poorest performers remain too far behind the rest of the industry.
“CCWater continues to meet regularly with water companies to put pressure on them to prioritise customer service in order to see their complaint levels drop much further. We also continue to tell the regulator Ofwat that there needs to be stronger penalties for water companies who are failing to satisfy the expectations of their customers.”
ELN was recently told consumers could face water price hikes in the future to pay for investment in infrastructure.