Drop in water complaints, but still more work to be done
Council for Water revealed that complaints to water companies in
England and Wales reduced by nearly 17% last year, extending the
trend of declining complaints to the industry, and bringing
complaint numbers down by nearly a 3rd in the last 2 years.
In the past, the water industry had developed a reputation for
rising complaints, which began before the Consumer Council for Water
was formed. But from the start the water watchdog worked hard to put
pressure on poor performing companies to make improvements. While
results are beginning to look promising many companies still have
further to go if they are going to turn complaint numbers around
Water companies with a considerable drop in complaints last year
included Southern Water, with 39% fewer complaints, Veolia Water
Central, with 30% fewer complaints, Anglian Water, with 27% fewer
complaints, and Severn Trent Water, with 23% fewer complaints
compared to the previous year’s figures.
Other water companies with already low complaint numbers improved
even further last year, including Northumbrian Water, with a 28%
drop in complaints, and Veolia Water Southeast, with 21% fewer
complaints. Portsmouth Water, Hartlepool Water, Cambridge Water, and
Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water continued to receive very few
complaints when taking into account the population each company
serves (complaints per 10,000 customers).
However, there are still a number of water companies that need to
make further improvements. For example, despite reductions in
complaints last year, South East Water, United Utilities, and South
West Water still received nearly double the industry’s average
number of complaints per customer served. Furthermore, numbers
of complaints have not dropped to the level that they were before a
dramatic rise complaints began. On average, water companies are only
part way through what the Consumer Council for Water sees as an
appropriate recovery, as complaints are still 33% per cent higher
than they were in 2004.
Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said:-
“Water customers are used to hearing about year on year rises
in complaints, but we’ve been working hard to put pressure on water
companies, particularly those with poor complaint numbers, to
improve their performance. We are beginning to see progress from
many of them. Unfortunately, there are still a few companies
who are letting their customers down when it comes to service.
Despite a 9% drop in complaints, South East Water continues to be
one of the worst performing companies in the industry. It is
particularly poor for a smaller company that only provides water,
and is not involved in the sewerage side of the business.
Although complaints to United Utilities dropped by 16% last year the
company is recovering from a period of high numbers of complaints.
It has a lot of work to do to bring service levels more in line with
the rest of the industry.
South West Water’s complaints dropped by 5% last year. But the
company’s higher than average complaint numbers have traditionally
been linked to it’s higher than average prices, and South West Water
must work harder to prove to customers that their services are good
value for money.
Furthermore, while complaints in England have dropped, in Wales it
is a different story, with water complaints to Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water
up by nearly six per cent and Dee Valley Water up by 44%.
Many customers are satisfied with the service provided by their
water company, but if something goes wrong, we know that customers
want the problem to be sorted out, and quickly. The industry
still has much more work to do and we will continue to call for
improvements to ensure that the year on year trend of rising
complaints is well and truly behind us.”
In the 5 years since the Consumer Council for Water began, it has
helped customers secure over £10 million in compensation and rebates
from water companies and taken over 78,000 complaints about water
companies’ services. The water watchdog has also encouraged
companies to share their profits with consumers, worth an extra £135
million in benefits through extra investments or reduced prices for
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THINK TRAVELWISE ON DAYS OUT ACROSS
across Merseyside are being encouraged to consider alternatives to
the car, as part of TravelWise Week over 20 September 2010 to 26 September
annual sustainable travel awareness week – held to coincide with
International Car Free Day on 22 September 2010 - is this year focussing
on leisure time, encouraging people to travel by cycle, foot, bus or
train when going on days out in the area.
To encourage people to think more creatively about their journey
options, TravelWise organised a photography competition and the
winning entries will be on display at the World Museum, Liverpool
during TravelWise Week.
Photographers were invited to submit images of popular Merseyside
landmarks and visitor attractions, incorporating a more sustainable
alternative to the car – walking, cycling or public transport – into
Michael Fahy of Waterloo, who works at McBurney Refrigeration at
Sandhills, was awarded first prize in the competition, which was
judged by Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of the Merseyside Integrated
Transport Authority. As well as having his work on display at the
World Museum, Liverpool, Michael has won an overnight stay for two
at the Malmaison, Liverpool.
Runners-up prizes were awarded to Patrick Ferguson of Prescot, who
will receive a Big Mersey Adventure Annual Family Pass, and Claire
Trantom of Bromborough, who has won dinner for two at Halligan’s
Restaurant, Oxton Village. The under 16 age category was won by
James Foreshaw, a pupil at Sherdley Primary School in St Helens, who
will also receive a Big Mersey Adventure Annual Family Pass. All
winners and runners-up will also receive a copy of their photo on
All the entries will be displayed at the World Museum, Liverpool
during TravelWise Week and the ten shortlisted entries can also be
viewed online at:-
Neil Scales, Chair of Merseyside Transport Partnership, said:-
“We want Merseyside residents to make the most of their leisure
time and hope that, away from the hustle and bustle of the working
week, people will take the time to consider the alternatives to
jumping in the car at the weekend.
We have some of the UK’s most exciting visitor attractions in
Merseyside and TravelWise, with the support of funding from the
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has been working with
them to make it easier for people to reach their sites without using
the car. A walk or cycle ride makes the journey part of the fun of
the day and gets families out and about in the fresh air, as well as
We hope that members of public enjoy seeing what local photographers
produced when asked to capture the best of what Merseyside has to
Other activities being organised as part of TravelWise Week include
a TravelWise roadshow, which will visit leading visitor attractions
to give people information on sustainable travel and personalised
travel advice to help with journey planning.
A TravelWise Bike Time ride on Sunday, 26 September 2010, will explore
quiet routes around Crosby, showing budding and more experienced
cyclists how pedal power can help people discover new parts of
The TravelWise roadshow will be at the following locations during
Southport Eco Centre 23 September 2010.
Anglican Cathedral 25 September 2010.
The Bike Time ride on Sunday, 26 September 2010, leaves Blundellsands and
Crosby train station at 2pm.
Call:- 0151 330 1290 or visit:-
LetsTravelWise.org for more information on
TravelWise Week and advice on healthier, greener travel across