Water company complaints soar

COMPLAINTS against Anglian Water have risen by nearly 10,000 in just a year, according to a shock report out today.

Russell Claydon

COMPLAINTS against Anglian Water have risen by nearly 10,000 in just a year, according to a shock report out today.

The company, which provides water and sewage services to most of Suffolk, admits it is “disappointed” at the figures, the second highest increase recorded among water firms nationwide.

Between March 2007 and April, the company received 25,891 complaints - a 55.5% increase on the previous year, and the equivalent of around 70 complaints every day.


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The Consumer Council for Water, which produced the report, has now warned the firm it must improve.

Anglian Water has put the huge rise down to “teething troubles” with a new billing system introduced in December 2007, but at this stage it is unknown exactly how many of the complaints were linked to the system.

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Nationwide, there was an overall 11% increase in water company complaints, including a 155% rise at Southern Water.

Dame Yve Buckland, chairman of the CCW, said: “It is very disappointing that a few companies are responsible for the overall rise.

“Without the high increases in complaints to Southern Water, Anglian Water and South East Water, figures for the industry overall would have dropped.

“It is even more disappointing that for the third year in a row, the rise in complaints has been heavily influenced by individual water companies introducing new billing systems that have gone wrong.”

She added: “Just because they cannot choose their water supplier, customers should not have to put up with sub-standard service.

“We will continue to press water and sewerage companies to raise their standards of service, provide clear benefits to consumers and place consumer priorities at the heart of future plans.”

In the last financial year, Anglian Water received 25,891 complaints, compared to 16,645 the previous year.

The firm, which has increased the average household bill by £82 (30%) over the last five years, said: “The increase in customer complaints last year was predominantly due to the new billing system we introduced.

“Unfortunately, this led to an increase in the number of times some customers needed to contact us to resolve their billing queries. Each of these repeat contacts is classed by Ofwat as a complaint.

“We are obviously disappointed that the new system had an impact on our customers, but it is working extremely well now and we are confident of a much better performance when the next results are announced.”

The CCW is the statutory water consumer body. It can be reached by email on: enquiries@ccwater.org.uk or calling the national hotline: 0845 039 2837.

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