Utility Week

UTILITY Week 2nd October 2015

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Customers This week Crypto costs could exceed £25m for UU Company could also face a 'significant number' of personal injury claims, says a legal expert United Utilities (UU) is facing a higher than expected bill of £25 million as a result of the cryptosporidium parasite con- tamination, and could poten- tially face a "significant number" of personal injury claims, according to a legal expert. Initial estimates put the com- pensation costs for the 300,000 customers that faced a boil water notice at between £15 million and £20 million, but in a trading update UU said the final compensation and one-off cost bill is expected to be higher than originally anticipated. The compensation payout, including to businesses that are claiming loss of earnings, is expected to be completed by the end of September. But Noel Walsh, head of the water group at law firm Weightmans, said UU should expect claims to be made by people who suffered nausea, stomach pains and diarrhoea at around the time the contamination was first identified at the start of August, even though no reported illnesses have yet emerged. "There could be quite a number," he said. "It is highly likely there will be a number coming out and saying it affected them and that they had short-term medical problems as a result." Public Health England has not linked any illnesses to the cryptosporidium contamination, which led to UU issuing a boil water notice to more than 300,000 proper- ties, but Walsh said this may not prevent compensation claims being made: "While it is difficult for the individ- ual to prove, it is also difficult for UU to disprove." MB ENERGY Fast growth boosts complaints against independents Citizens Advice has pointed to the fast growth of independent suppliers as a key factor behind the high number of customer complaints revealed in its latest complaints table. Citizens Advice's head of retail markets, Gillian Cooper, said: "If you look at all the small suppliers, most of them have been growing quite rapidly. Some of the independent com- panies at the bottom of the table have taken on large numbers of new customers and that may be causing some teething problems with complaints." Cooper said the table showed a "mixed bag" among independ- ents. Only independent supplier Ecotricity features in the top five. Some of the fastest growing suppliers, such as First Utility, Spark Energy and Extra Energy, feature in the bottom six, accompanying big six suppliers Npower and Scottish Power. ENERGY Review identifies tougher role for OSE A strategic forward-looking review of Ombudsman Services: Energy (OSE) has identified a much wider and potentially more difficult future role than the one it is currently fulfilling. The Ofgem-commissioned review said it expects the ombudsman's case mix to evolve over time from the current situa- tion of a high volume of cases, to fewer, harder to resolve cases. This could have a significant impact on OSE's resource levels, skills and capabilities, the review said. Lucerna Partners, who per- formed the review, said: "While OSE agrees it has a wider role in supporting and promoting best practice in complaint handling, and identifying and acting on wider systemic issues, it has not focused on this, is unsure in the role, and has limited systems and processes to support it." ENERGY Good Energy profits and customers rise Independent renewable energy supplier Good Energy's customer numbers have swelled by more than a third to drive a 38 per cent increase in gross profit. The supplier's results for the first six months of 2015 have revealed gross profit for the company has risen by more than a third to £10.2 million, from £7.4 million in H1 last year. Electricity customer num- bers increased by 20 per cent to 55,000, up from 46,000 in the same period last year. Gas customer numbers increased by 40 per cent to 28,000, from 20,000 at the same time last year. Cryptosporidium: affected 300,000 customers I am the customer Nicola Eaton Sawford "I won't be your customer if I can't trust you" I am the customer and I am increasingly disillusioned! Volkswagen, Ratners, FIFA and Thomas Cook – to name but a few – big brand names that will feature in Business School lectures for years to come, for all the wrong reasons. Their corporate integrity called into question, it would appear they made the fatal error of not valuing their customers' trust highly enough. I am the customer and my trust is increasingly hard to earn. environment, it matters to me how you treat your employees. The degree of honesty and transparency I perceive is impor- tant to me; how connected you appear to be with my world and what other people say about you influences me. I am your customer today, but I won't be tomorrow if I can't trust you. Can I? Nicola Eaton Sawford, managing director, Customer Whisperers When I think about my expe- rience of an organisation and assess my level of satisfaction, I do so logically, emotionally and instinctively. Most of you only understand the logical elements, some understand the emotional elements. Only a select few seek to understand the influence of my instincts. Yet the influence of my emo- tions, instincts and personal values on my buying decisions is increasing. In deciding whether to do business with you or not I consider your ethics and values, consciously and subconsciously. It matters to me how much tax you pay in this country, it matters to me how your treat the 26 | 2ND - 8TH OCTOBER 2015 | UTILITY WEEK

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