Ofwat says water companies must maintain levels of service to customers

Posted: Friday 23rd November 2007

Most water and sewerage companies continued to deliver the high standards of service that customers expected in 2006-07, but a few have fallen short, says Ofwat's 'Levels of Service report,' published recently.

Ofwat Director of Consumer Protection, Andrew Dunn said: "Customers are reaping the benefits of regulatory pressure brought by Ofwat and the actions of the companies over many years. We expect these high standards to be maintained and will not shy away from taking appropriate action where they are not."

Some problems in the past year came from difficulties with customer contact and billing systems. Because of this the service provided to some customers who tried to contact their company in writing or by telephone was not good enough. Customers of Severn Trent Water, Southern Water and South East Water were the most affected.

We are watching closely as these companies rebuild and improve their customer service in line with agreed improvement plans. We welcome Southern Water's commitment to its customers that it will deliver its improvement plan with a promise to pay customers extra compensation if it fails to achieve it.

As a result of a number of company specific investigations into Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS), all companies were required to review how they deliver and report standards of service.

Each company's review was thorough and was checked by auditors. All companies made further improvements in their procedures as a result, ensuring better protection for customers from failures in standards. Each company remains responsible for its delivery to its customers and Ofwat will continue with the requirement that company Boards must sign off on the information they provide to prove they are meeting their statutory requirements.

Three Valleys Water has notified Ofwat of the outcome of an internal investigation into irregularities in data, that was provided to the regulator relating to billing metered customers. Ofwat will decide what action to take once its investigation is complete.

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