Big rise in complaints about water firmsCC Water reveals worst companies

09 September 2008

A man filling a glass from a tap

Only 17% of Which? members drink still bottled water at home

Complaints about water suppliers increased by 11% last year due to specific problems with a small number of water companies, says a report out today.

The Consumer Council for Water (CC Water) said that Southern Water, South East Water and South West Water had the highest number of complaints based on complaints per 10,000 customers. 

New billing systems were a major cause for concern in some areas. This contributed to complaints about Southern Water rising 155%; complaints to Anglian Water rose by 56% after the company introduced a new billing system.

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Bucking the trend

Some water suppliers fared better than in previous years; for example, complaints to Severn Trent Water fell by a third as it began to overcome problems from the year before, while other water companies continued to receive relatively few complaints.

Complaints to CC Water about water companies' service reflected a similar pattern. For example, when Southern Water staff were unable to handle the large increase of complaints themselves, frustrated consumers, with nowhere else to turn, contacted CCWater. This tripled the previous year's complaints figure for Southern Water.

Disappointing results

Dame Yve Buckland, chair of CC Water, said: 'It is very disappointing that a few water companies are responsible for the overall rise in complaints.

'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. Companies need to keep in mind that the changes they make do have an impact on consumers.'

The full report is on the Consumer Council for Water website.

Water complaints

You are entitled to guaranteed standards of service from your water supplier. If the company fails to meet any of these standards, you are entitled to compensation Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS). These standards cover, for example:

  • keeping appointments 
  • responding to account queries
  • responding to complaints

If you feel your problem has not been resolved, you can then ask your local Consumer Council of Water committee to investigate your complaint.