The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) is on standby to give customers advice and information about the new retail water market which opens in England on Saturday.
The water watchdog’s consumer relations experts are geared up and ready to deal with enquiries and help resolve any problems experienced by customers when switching retailer or negotiating with their existing provider for a better deal on price and service.
Tony Smith, CCWater’s Chief Executive, said:
“Choice will bring benefits for customers but it will also present new problems and challenges that the industry will have to tackle.”
“We know there will be teething problems and not everything is going to be right first time. When problems arise, CCWater will be here to help customers get their complaints resolved quickly and support them with free, impartial advice and information.”
CCWater will be acting as the eyes and ears of the customer in what will be the world’s biggest water retail market with around 1.2 million businesses, charities and public sector organisations eligible to switch retailer.
The watchdog’s highly trained consumer relations team has more than 10 years’ experience in advising customers about water issues and resolving their complaints. They deal with about 10,000 enquiries and 10,000 complaints each year, around 10 per cent of which are from non-household customers.
The watchdog expects this figure to increase, especially in the early days of the market. Its staff will be liaising with around 20 retailers operating in the market who have pledged to work with the watchdog to make sure problems are sorted out quickly.
CCWater will use information from the enquiries and complaints it receives from customers to identify specific issues that need to be tackled by retailers, by the industry regulator Ofwat or the market operator MOSL.
It will also collect complaints data directly from the retailers and highlight this in its annual complaints report to enable customers to compare the performance of retailers.
In a few months’ time CCWater will carry out research on customers’ experience of the market and how well it has worked for them. This will be used to improve the market so that it benefits business customers of all sizes.