Thames Water "sorry" after discovering 4,000 unread customer emails

1st Nov 2010

Thames Water has paid customers £60,000 in compensation after it admitted ignoring seven years’ worth of complaints following an email blunder.

The water company, which supplies the London and the Thames Valley, said the messages had accumulated after having been sent to an email address starting ‘customerfeedback’ that it was "not aware of" rather than the correct ‘’ one. It only noticed the error in March when it notified industry regulator, Ofwat.

In its latest report, the watchdog said: "In March 2010, Thames told us it had discovered an email box containing nearly 4,000 unread customer emails, dating back as far as March 31, 2003. Thames has since made Guaranteed Standards Scheme payments to all the customers it has been able to identify."

The company had also taken action to "address the root causes of the failure" and put measures in place to prevent it from happening again, it added.

A Thames Water spokesman said: "The messages should have bounced back when customers missed out the dot, but they somehow ended up in an inbox we were not aware of. We are sorry for the error, but putting it into context, we get 3,000 contracts from customers every day and this is over seven years."

He added that the firm had so far paid out a total of £60,000 to compensate the 1,800 people it had "let down", with 1,200 receiving £40 and the remaining 600 getting £20. It was also investing a further £1.2 million to improve its service, the spokesman said.

Water companies are subject to statutory requirements, under which they must pay £20 compensation if they fail to respond to complaints or account enquiries within 10 working days. In the case of complaints, if they fail to pay 10 working days after payment is due, they are obliged to make an additional payment.

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