Data protection

In order to carry out the customer measure of experience (C-MeX), business retail customer measure of experience (BR-Mex) and developer services measure of experience (D-MeX) surveys, Ofwat, as controller, commissions research undertaken by our agents who operate as our processors. The lawful basis that Ofwat relies on for this processing is that it is necessary for the performance of our tasks carried out in the public interest (article 6(e) of the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (“GDPR”)). Specifically, the review of the experience of customers and developers allows us to assess companies’ performance against the relevant performance commitments as part of our implementation and enforcement of our price controls (under Condition B of companies’ instruments of appointment and Section 11 of the Water Industry Act 1991). Ofwat also appoints agents (acting as a processor on behalf of both Ofwat and the Consumer Council for Water) to carry out more detailed surveys in relation to a customer’s experience of sewerage flooding, in order to implement and enforce our price controls, as well as inform regulatory policy in this area.

We use our regulatory powers to require water companies to provide our agents with contact details for customers and developers who have recently had contact with their water company. The categories of data they are required to provide are:

  • the customer’s account/unique reference number, name, telephone number, postal address, and/or email address (where the customer contacted the company electronically);
  • the reason that the customer had contact with the water company;
  • via what medium (phone, post, email, webform, social media etc.) and on what date, and
  • whether or not the contact was in relation to a complaint.

The agents then contact these individuals via either telephone or email to conduct a survey in relation to their experience with their water company. We only ask our agents to share customers’ personal data with us in exceptional circumstances; we will ask agents to collate the feedback about the companies’ performance and present it to us in anonymised or aggregate form. Where customers do not object, we share the feedback from those contacted via the C-MeX, BR-Mex and D-MeX surveys with their respective water company, so that the water company can check to make sure that we have accurately recorded customer survey feedback. Customers are given the opportunity to object to us sharing their feedback for this purpose at the time the survey is carried out.

If a customer wishes to exercise their right to object to us processing their data for the purpose of the C-MeX, BR-Mex, D-MeX or sewerage flooding surveys, they are able to do so by emailing our Data Protection Officer at [email protected].

As with all Ofwat’s contracts with third party processors, our contract with our survey agents includes contractual safeguards to ensure protection of personal data and compliance with the GDPR. For more information about our agents and how we handle personal data more generally, please see our Privacy Policy.