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Essex and Suffolk Water ordered to make improvements

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A water company, which supplies homes across north Suffolk, has been told it must make immediate improvements.

Essex and Suffolk Water has been given a warning by a consumer watchdog after reporting a sharp rise in complaints.

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has told the company to reverse a 28 per cent increase in the number of customers who had to pick up the phone to resolve service problems in 2018/19. Written complaints also more than doubled during the year.

Professor Bernard Crump said he wanted to see clear evidence that complaints are falling.
Professor Bernard Crump said he wanted to see clear evidence that complaints are falling.

Essex and Suffolk Water must now provide quarterly reports highlighting the steps it is taking to get back on track.

Professor Bernard Crump, the central and eastern chairman of CCWater, said: “The company struggled to cope with the extra contact that was generated by its new billing system, which caused a lot of frustration for some customers.”

“We hope Essex and Suffolk Water is now over the worst of it, but we want to see clear evidence over the coming months that complaints are falling and customers are seeing real benefits from the changes to billing.”

Claire Sharp, customer director at Essex and Suffolk Water, said: “The figures are disappointing, however, we are confident these results reflect a very temporary setback while we’ve implemented new systems.

“Last year, we invested £36 million to replace old technology, which had been in place for over two decades, with a major new customer service system.

“Moving forward, this will let our customers experience easy, quick and straight-forward services, something we know is important.

“Historically, we have always been one of the industry’s best-performing companies when it comes to customer service, with the highest levels of customer trust and satisfaction, which we’re incredibly proud of.

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“The investment we’ve made in new technology will make sure in the long term we continue to provide unrivalled customer service for our customers.”

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