August 17, 2017
SMEs need more help to understand the new water market
Small business in England are struggling to understand the new non-household retail water market in England and need more help, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
CCWater received six times more inquiries from businesses in the first three months since the market opened in England in April, compared to the same period in 2016. More than 90% of contacts came from small and medium sized businesses.
In line with expectations, complaints made by businesses to CCWater also increased. Many of these have been put down to "teething problems", which is expected to be "swiftly resolved" as the market develops.
More than half (54%) of the 370 complaints received from businesses were related to billing and charges, consistent with previous years. A majority of complaints (80.5%) were about retailers, followed by wholesalers (17.8%) and TPIs.
CCWater believes competition has generated some new types of complaints, with a small number of firms struggling to find information about retailers and their tariffs.
There were also some delays in resolving operational issues, including low water pressure and leaks, caused by poor communication between retailers and wholesalers.
CCWater said they had to intervene to help some household customers who were wrongly classified as being eligible for the non-household market.
Tony Smith, CCWater's Chief Executive said:
"In terms of complaints made to CCWater, there is little to suggest that customers have so far encountered any major problems with switching or the services they receive from retailers.
"It's also clear from the customer contact we've received that many smaller businesses need more help getting to grips with the new market. Retailers and water companies need to work harder to ensure customers are well informed so they can exercise their choice with confidence."
More than 36,000 businesses switched their retail water supplier in the first three months since the market opening.
Ofwat Chief Executive Cathryn Ross said:
"It is early days but we are seeing some encouraging signs with new retailers, new deals and crucially, customers saving money and water. There have been more than 36,000 switches and around 60% of those have come from low water users - more likely to be SMEs. That is significant because we want to make sure this market works for all customers, not just the very large companies with specialist procurement divisions.
"More needs to be done, however; comparing offers is still not as easy as it needs to be and we have told retailers they must remedy this."
When the water market was opened up to businesses in England, Energylinx for Business partnered with WaterPlus to provide our customers with more money saving opportunities.
We can also find the most competitive rates for your business energy online or by calling 01259 225400.
Posted on August 17, 2017 at 01:13 PM