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Number of customer complaints drop

The amount of written customer complaints to Yorkshire Water dropped to 7,228 cases in 2014/15, according to the water sector watchdog the Consumer Council for Water.

Huddersfield had the fewest number of complaints from the region’s main urban centres with just 377 written water complaints registered. The most was from Leeds where 1,441 complaints were raised.

The result means Yorkshire Water, which has five million customers, received the fourth lowest number of written complaints out of the 10 main UK water companies.

In its annual report, Written Complaint Handling in the Water Industry, the Consumer Council for Water highlighted the firm had successfully decreased its volume of written complaint cases from 9,003 in 2013/14 to 7,228 this year. It represented the second biggest  drop of all main water companies, with only Northumbria Water performing better.

The most common reasons for customers to make complaints are related to billing and charges. Other top reasons include loss of water supply, water quality issues, odours, and sewer flooding.

Dean Stewart, Head of Household Retail at Yorkshire Water, said: “This reduction in written complaints from customers across the region is great news, but we still want to bring it down further.  To make this happen, our average annual bill has dropped three per cent to £360 and we have also introduced a social tariff to help reduce the bills of around 10,000 customers on low incomes.”

According to the Consumer Council for Water, the firm received 20 per cent fewer written complaints in 2014/15, with only one other major water company, Northumbria Water, performing better.

Dean Stewart added: “We are also committed to making significant investment to improve our operational performance. For instance, millions of pounds will be spent on the latest technology and equipment that helps to reduce the risk of any asset failures or poor performance.”

Yorkshire Water was voted the best of all utility companies in the UK by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) earlier this year. One of the reasons for this is the speed its call centre staff answer incoming customer calls, with the vast majority answered within just 20 seconds.

Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We expect the water industry to continually try and improve its services to customers and many water companies deserve credit for rising to that challenge year after year. However, the gulf between the best and worst performers remains unacceptable.”

In total, 107,000 written complaints were made to water companies throughout the UK in 2014/15, down from 1230,000 the previous year. It was the seventh successive year that the number of such complaints had fallen.

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