As a business water customer, you want to know that you are getting a fair price and that you can choose your water supplier. The market codes lay down clear processes and grounds (e.g. outstanding debt balances) for retailers to block switches. Yet statistics produced on an anonymised basis by the water market operator, MOSL, show a shocking variation in how free customers are to choose: two retailers block around two-thirds of all attempted switches by their customers to new retailers, against a market average of 25%. But customers aren’t given the key information on which retailers block most switches, so they don’t know if they are walking into a trap when they accept a (supposedly) lower price contract.
In Castle Water’s case, since market opening in 2017, two retailers have blocked over 75% of attempted switches to Castle and five have blocked over 50%. We have been told by certain retailers that they do this automatically. This is a market-wide issue.
John Reynolds said ”We knew in 2016, from experience in Scotland, that blocked transfers were one of the major areas of poor market behaviour, trapping customers into potentially high charges and poor service. This is unfair to customers and invalidates the whole idea of the legislation to create the business water market. I asked then for Ofwat to monitor this carefully in England. Having seen this unfair tactic repeated by certain less than scrupulous business water retailers in England, we have again asked both the market operator MOSL and the regulator Ofwat to publish the data showing what percentage of attempted switches are blocked by each business water retailer. I want customers to be able to make an informed choice of their business water retailer, and this is crucial information for them. Ofwat and MOSL have failed to publish this data, and are hiding details of which retailers are subverting the whole idea of the market. This can’t be right – Ofwat requires all water retailers to “Put you and other customers at the heart of their business” and “give you information that is complete, accurate and not misleading”. I am asking Ofwat and MOSL to publish this vital information and rise to the same standards they demand of us.”