PN 02/17 Customer service improved, thanks to Ofwat intervention

Severn Trent Water has overhauled its complaints system after Ofwat intervened in a longstanding complaint about a sewer in Bamford, Derbyshire.

Residents starting having problems in around 2000. They complained to Severn Trent Water on numerous occasions from 2004, saying they had to unblock their private sewer to prevent flooding and suffered from odour from sewage on several occasions.

Residents said that Severn Trent Water had connected an apartment block upstream, draining into their sewer without their permission.

Ofwat became involved in 2011 when residents submitted appeals to stop Severn Trent Water from adopting their private sewer.

Following information gathering from residents and the water company and the appointment of a consultant to carry out odour monitoring, Severn Trent committed to installing a new sewer upstream of the residents’ private sewer to rectify the problem.

Severn Trent also made a good will payment to the residents in recognition of the frustration and stress that some of them experienced in trying to resolve this matter. Severn Trent also overhauled its complaints system, especially the way it deals with long standing complaints.

Richard Khaldi, Senior Director (Customers and Casework) says:

“It is vital that water companies provide good customer service and deal with complaints in a timely and satisfactory manner, which did not happen in this case.

“It took years of complaining for these residents to get a satisfactory outcome, which is unacceptable. But processes have improved as a result so others should benefit.”