Thames Water facing Ofwat fineWater giant criticised over customer service

20 July 2006

 

The UK's biggest water supplier Thames Water is facing more criticism after it failed to meet customer service standards.

Water regulator Ofwat has announced it plans to fine the company for the breaches which it said had led to customers not receiving the ‘standard of service to which they are entitled.’

The Ofwat announcement comes just weeks after Thames Water escaped a fine for failing to meet its leakage target by pledging to spend £150 million improving the mains.

Customer service standards relate to areas such as answering enquiries, dealing with complaints and keeping people informed. The latest breach relates to the company's failure to meet these standards and to compensate those affected.

An Ofwat spokeswoman said it was not yet known how much money Thames owed its customers in compensation.

Independent investigation

The water giant volunteered information to the regulator about the breaches in January and it has since pledged to reimburse customers and to step up customer service.

Ofwat and Thames Water have jointly ordered an independent investigation into the issue and the regulator will announce the level of its fine and whether further action is needed once the investigation is complete.

Ofwat chairman Philip Fletcher said: ‘It is extremely disappointing that we have had to take this action against Thames Water for its customer service failures, coming on top of the company's breach of its leakage target.’

He added: ‘This is a clear warning to Thames Water that it must be focused on delivering the services that customers have paid for.’

Thames Water’s customer services director Phil Scholes said: ‘We have fully cooperated with this investigation so we can establish how these errors were made and make sure that they are not repeated in the future.

Compensation payments

‘We regret the mistakes that have been made and apologise to customers who may have been affected. Following the completion of the investigation, we will of course make good any compensation payments that should have been made.’

Under new powers which came into force earlier this year Ofwat can fine water companies up to 10 per cent of their of their turnover.

It has already announced plans to fine both Southern Water and Severn Trent Water for their customer service failures.