Cambridge Water told to improve after huge rise in complaints from its customers

Cambridge Water Company

Cambridge Water Company - Credit: Archant

Cambridge Water has been told to improve its performance after recording a 250 per cent rise in customer complaints during the last 12 months.

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) told the operator, which supplies water to homes in Ramsey, St Ives, Papworth Everard, Bluntisham and Earith, it had to “get to grips with the causes of customers’ dissatisfaction”.

A report published today (September 20) by the CCWater showed the “substantial rise in written complaints from its customers” was the highest percentage increase of any water company in England and Wales.

There was also a 37 per cent rise in the number of customers who had to pick up the phone in an attempt to resolve an issue with the water company.

CCWater wants the operator to report back by the end of October and explain what steps it will be taking to improve performance.

Professor Bernard Crump, central and eastern chairman for CCWater, said: “Cambridge Water had been one of the industry’s best performers so we are disappointed it has let that position slip with this substantial increase in complaints.”

“We are seeking assurances that it has got to grips with the causes of customers’ dissatisfaction. That’s why I’ve asked the company to report back to me by the end October to explain what steps it is taking to improve its performance.”

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The report shows that in the period for 2015/16 Cambridge Water received 140 written complaints which rose to 488 for 2016/17.

Cambridge Water has attributed a large part of the increase in complaints to teething problems caused by the transfer of its customer service operations to the offices of its parent company South Staffs Water.

Cambridge Water issued a statement today (Wednesday) in which it said: “We`re extremely disappointed with the level of complaints received during 2016/2017 as for many years we have been one of the industry’s top performing companies. We received 488 complaints last year compared to our usual average of around 190 per year. We understand the reasons behind this increase and are working hard to ensure that we quickly restore our performance back to the excellent levels our Cambridge customers have historically enjoyed. We have identified some specific areas of improvement and are working closely with the Consumer Council for Water as we deliver our plans and are sharing regular updates with them. Based on our progress so far this year we are expecting our complaints performance to be around 300 for the full year. By next year we expect to see a full recovery.”

In the Cambridge region, the company provides water to 319,000 people living in an area of 730km2 around the city of Cambridge. This extends to Ramsey in the north, Gamlingay in the west, Balsham in the east and Melbourn in the south.