Change of account management services for business customers


What is Retail Competition and why is it happening?

In 2014, the Government passed legislation to allow non-household (business) customers to choose their water supplier, and it is intended that this becomes effective from 1st April 2017. The creation of this new market will allow businesses to switch from their local monopoly water company (the “incumbent water company”) to another water supplier for account management activities. Currently most water supplies are provided by a single “incumbent water company” who is responsible for supplying the water to a customer’s premises. This is known as the “Wholesale” service, and the customer facing services including billing and handling customer queries etc., are known as the “Retail” service. In this area, Portsmouth Water is responsible for drinking water and Southern Water is normally responsible for the sewerage service.

As a result of this new legislation water and sewerage services to business customers premises will be split into Wholesale services and Retail services. The Retailer will be responsible for providing the customer facing service; they will issue bills and deal with customer contacts, queries and complaints. This retail activity will be open to competition and customers will have the choice of who they want to provide this service. The legislation also allowed incumbent water companies to “Exit the Market” which means that they would transfer the retail activities to another party, but this would have to be approved by the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs. The Wholesaler who provides the clean drinking water, or sewerage services will not change. As such, Portsmouth Water will continue to provide the same high quality of water we do now.

How does all this work?

A simple analogy is to look at a Supermarket like Tesco. All the goods in the shop are produced by wholesalers which are then purchased by the retailer (Tesco) to sell to customers. Using that example we are the wholesaler (producer of the goods) and Castle Water are Tesco, the retailer who sell the goods to the customer. From April 2017 you as the customer will get to choose the retailer. Whoever you choose as the retailer they have to buy the product (water) from us.

For more information on retail competition visit the website www.openwater.org

Why have Portsmouth Water decided to exit the Retail market?
When the market for business retail services opens in April 2017, it is likely that there will be a number of large water companies and specialist retail companies competing in the new market. Whilst Portsmouth Water has an excellent record of customer service it is a relatively small company and its retail activity for businesses is a small proportion of its activity. Portsmouth Water does not believe it has systems, skills and experience to compete on a national scale in this market. It has decided therefore to focus on its wholesale and household business, where it has much greater scale.
Will my bills go up as a result?
Not as a result of this change. Prices during the period 2015 to 2020 were agreed in 2014 with Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water industry in England and Wales.
What happens to my Levels of Service?

Castle Water have agreed to maintain the service standards currently offered by Portsmouth Water. In reaching our decision, we believe that Castle Water is able to deliver a first class service to its customers.

The quality and reliability of your water supply will not change.

Who are Castle Water?

Castle Water is a Licenced Provider of water and sewerage services in the Scottish market where competition has been in place since 2008. It has developed sales, customer services, billing and settlement capabilities to operate successfully in Scotland, and in England when the market is opened. It has 5,000 customers in Scotland and affinity partnerships with organisations including the National Farmers Union and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

For more information visit www.castlewater.co.uk

Will my sewerage retailer change?
This is a matter for your sewerage provider (normally Southern Water). As noted earlier, Portsmouth Water provides only drinking water services.
What happens after April 2017?
In advance of market opening April 2017, we will seek approval from the Government to exit the retail water market. If approval is granted and once the market opens, your account will be formally transferred to Castle Water and they will become your retailer.
What if I don’t want to be a customer of “Castle Water”?

You will have the choice to stay with Castle Water or switch to another retailer. There will be a number of retailers available.

We have chosen someone we believe will offer a high standard of service.

Who are business customers?
Business customers, in respect of these changes, are customers running a business and non-household organisations that occupy premises that are not principally a home.
Will household customers be affected?
No. Portsmouth Water will continue to supply and bill its household customers. This change only relates to business customers.
Who do I call if there is no water or water quality issues?

For issues relating to the quality of water, or if you have no water, you can still contact us directly. For issues relating to your bills you will contact Castle Water.

We will still be providing the water and therefore the product remains the same high quality.

Who do I call if I have a billing query?

From 1 April 2016 you should call Castle Water on 01250 833101. They will have responsibility for answering all billing enquiries and queries.

What happens if I have a complaint?

For the period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 the following process applies. It will change from 1 April 2017 but we will let you know about these changes nearer that date.

  • You should contact Castle Water on 01250 833101. If the matter is not resolved first time then it will be escalated to one of their Directors.

    If you are still dissatisfied then you can refer your complaint to the Consumer Council for Water who provide a free and impartial complaints handling service. They can be contacted on 0300 034 2222, by email to [email protected] or writing to the Consumer Council for Water, 1st Floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B2 4AJ.

How much impact will this have on my business?
You should not see any change or impact on your business other than the bills you will now receive will be from “Castle Water”. Everything else will be as it is now in terms of your water supply.
Does this mean I am no longer a customer of Portsmouth Water?
You remain our customer until the new market opens, which is expected to be in April 2017.