Is billing in advance creating a barrier to switching to a new water retailer?

Is billing in advance creating a barrier to switching to a new water retailer?

Why would you want to pay for clean and waste water that you haven’t yet used? Having a water meter on your premises allows you to have accurate, current bills based on your measured water consumption – there is little point in having a meter if your retailer has decided to estimate your future water usage. 

Billing in advance has become a common issue for customers in our industry, so why would a retailer do this?

Cash flow 

As water retailers, we are charged by the wholesalers for the water that you use before we bill you. Meaning the obvious big win for your water retailer is cash flow – customers paying upfront for the water they haven’t used yet helps the retailer’s access to cash to pay the wholesaler.

The refund process creates a barrier to switching 

The other big win for retailers billing in advance is that it makes customers ‘feel’ like they can’t switch away from that retailer. Customers think that it will be difficult to get a refund for the water they have already paid for but not yet used – It’s a win-win for retailers who do this, right? 

Well, we don’t think so. We don’t want our customers to pay for water they haven’t used or feel stuck with us. We want our customers to stay with us because we are providing good service, accurate bills and because they trust us to be open and honest with them.

Who has been affected by this?  

Based on feedback from customers wishing to switch to us, this issue has created a real barrier to switching – Whether this is only a ‘perceived’ barrier or not, it doesn’t matter. 

Our potential customers are not the only ones frustrated with advanced bills, these recent articles in Farmers Weekly and NFU state that Farmers have been objecting to paying for some of the water they use in advance. The Farming community, who tend to be larger water users have said it’s ‘a step too far’. 

In this fledgling industry, where awareness and switching are relatively low, it poses the question as to why practices that prevent customers who want to switch from switching are being allowed to continue?

How can I switch If I’m being billed in advance?   

  • Get in touch with the water retailer of your choice to arrange the switch 
  • You will then receive an expected switch date from your new retailer  
  • Ask your current retailer to issue a new invoice which ends the date you leave and to cancel your advance invoice  
  • Your previous retailer must refund any funds that are due

Want to switch to Affinity for Business? Click here to find out more and get a quote. 

Do you want to learn more about how Affinity for Business are tackling current issues within the industry? Find out how we are reducing complaint levels in water retail in our recent blog post.  

5 Scary Facts About Plastic Pollution this Halloween!

5 Scary Facts About Plastic Pollution this Halloween!

Buying disposable plastics such as water bottles may seem convenient, but it’s very easy to lose track of how much plastic we’re using and not recycling. From bottles to one-use bags and large corporations producing and selling endless amounts of disposable plastic, it’s important we all make everyday changes to help reduce the scary amount of plastic pollution in the Earth’s environment that adversely affects wildlife, habitat, and humans.

A whopping 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics has been produced on Earth since the 1950’s – that’s enough plastic to cover every inch of the UK, ankle-deep, more than ten times over.

Everyday plastic items are often thrown away and not recycled, all of which can be replaced by reusable alternatives which will help to reduce plastic pollution. Here are a few alternatives that we would recommend:

  • Avoid disposable plastic cutlery and use stainless steel cutlery instead
  • Invest in a reusable water bottle instead of buying disposable bottles of water. Look out for the free Refill stations across the UK where you can top up your reusable bottle
  • Take your reusable travel mug into your local coffee shop instead of using single-use takeaway cups
  • Remember to use a bag for life instead of one-use plastic bags
  • Use Tupperware boxes rather than cling film

Less than 14% of plastic packaging is recycled

A frighteningly low figure! There are many resources online which can help businesses to implement recycling initiatives into their everyday practices, such as the ‘How To Recycle At Work guides’ from Wrap and these useful resources on the Recycle Now website.

Approximately 8 million pieces of plastic enter our oceans every day.

As a result of the increasing rates of plastic pollution, our marine life is threatened by entanglement, ingesting plastic, and disruption of their habitats.

Did you know that 75% of deep ocean fish have been found to have ingested plastic particles?

Which is why it’s so important for businesses to produce products with as little plastic packaging as possible, the fewer plastic packaging made, the less likely it is to contaminate our oceans – take inspiration from the world’s first plastic-free shopping aisle, launched in Amsterdam earlier this year!

Nearly one million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute around the world

Did you know this figure is expected to grow a monstrous 20% by 2020?! You can see why it’s so important to recycle any plastic that you do use so we can prevent this from happening. You can also take a look at our top 3 tricks to avoid using plastic bottles, which will help you keep your plastic usage to a minimum.

 

If this blog wasn’t spooky enough for you this Halloween, take a look at last year’s terrifying blog post: Behold the fatberg, the disgusting drainage disaster!

How Affinity for Business are reducing complaint levels in water retail

How Affinity for Business are reducing complaint levels in water retail

“The number of complaints made by non-household customers about retailers to the Water Watchdog has fallen for the first time since the market opened.”

Consumer Council for Water

Earlier this month, Consumer Council for Water (the independent representative of business water consumers in England and Wales, also known as CCW) published their findings on complaints to them in the water retail market since the market opened, in April 2017.   Our complaint levels remain relatively low – this isn’t by luck, this is because we work hard to continually improve our processes and listen to our customers – always putting them front and centre of everything we do.

Our Customer Service Team

Affinity for Business CCW: ‘Non-household complaints fall for first time since market opening’ – How Affinity for Business are reducing complaint levels in water retail

Our customer service team are the heart of our business, we select people to join the team that have the AfB attitude and we spend three weeks training them before they start dealing with customers.  We give our team members the ability to make decisions based on what is ‘right’ for the customer rather than what we are obliged to do because that is what is in the code of conduct. We encourage continual personal development through training – we also make it a fun and happy place to work, we believe that happy staff that feel empowered to make decisions will, in turn, look after our customers to the best of their ability!

Trustpilot Reviews

Trustpilot reviews are a great way for our customers to let us know how we’re doing. Whether we receive a 5-star review, 1-star or somewhere in between, each comment allows us to improve our customer service levels, therefore keeping complaint levels at a minimum. Here are a few of our latest Trustpilot Reviews:

Affinity for Business CCW: ‘Non-household complaints fall for first time since market opening’ – How Affinity for Business are reducing complaint levels in water retail

Affinity for Business CCW: ‘Non-household complaints fall for first time since market opening’ – How Affinity for Business are reducing complaint levels in water retail

Affinity for Business CCW: ‘Non-household complaints fall for first time since market opening’ – How Affinity for Business are reducing complaint levels in water retail

Key Account Managers

Our Key Account Managers are there to provide dedicated help and support our medium and larger sized customers.  They have years of experience in the water industry and are best placed to give that extra support that a large or critical water user needs.  Find out more about our Key Account Managers on our Meet the Team page.

Billing and Charges


According to CCW’s report, billing and charges were the most complained about this quarter in the water retail market with a total of 509 complaints made to CCW.
To make sure our bills are as accurate as possible, we base 97% of our monthly bills on meter readings. We also try to make our customer’s water supply as cost effective as possible, this includes helping businesses to implement sustainability initiatives, get inspired by our sustainability partnership with Heathrow Airport, here.

Click here to read the full report from CCW.

Fancy switching your water retailer to Affinity for Business? Find out more about the benefits here.

How to prevent blocked drains and pipes this Autumn

How to prevent blocked drains and pipes this Autumn

While we’ve been experiencing darker commutes, drizzly lunchbreaks and leaves travelling in the wind, it’s safe to say that Autumn is in full swing. It’s very important for businesses to look after their outdoor pipes during Autumn because they can build up or get clogged with leaves and debris very quickly. Managing the build-up of leaves can be a draining thought (quite literally!), so we’ve done all the research that you need in this blog to tackle clearing out your drains and pipes this season.

Get your gloves on…

Affinity for Business How to prevent blocked drains and pipes this Autumn

When researching the best gardening tools online, it’s easy to get lost in the array of gimmicky gadgets that are used for cleaning up leaves. We would recommend to strip back to the basics and get a pair of work gloves to scoop out the build-up of leaves and debris in your down spouts and drains. Be sure to clear out your pipes at least twice a month to avoid them getting clogged over time.

Drain Guards

Affinity for Business How to prevent blocked drains and pipes this Autumn

To avoid your drains from getting seriously blocked, you can invest in a drain guard. Keep any leaves or debris out of the way while still allowing water to pass through the drain. With the power of online shopping, you’ll be able to safeguard your drains this Autumn by getting a drain guard delivered to your business by tomorrow morning!

Outdoor vacuum

Affinity for Business How to prevent blocked drains and pipes this Autumn

If you have left the task of clearing your pipes out too late this Autumn, there’s no need to worry. You can use a specialised outdoor vacuuming system to clear out any serious blocks in your drains and pipes caused by leaves and debris. There are many local companies that hire out this equipment and will quickly sort out the problem for ou.

Don’t forget to recycle

Affinity for Business How to prevent blocked drains and pipes this Autumn

After clearing out the leaves and debris from your drains and pipes, we would recommend recycling these materials. You can do this by disposing of them in your green garden waste recycling bin.

Another way to reuse the leaves and debris collected is to turn it into compost. Producing compost is easy and affordable, start by storing your leaves in a compost bin and within 3-4 months, they should turn dark and crumbly. Compost holds essential nutrients and moisture needed which means it’s perfect for growing healthy plants.

Have you prepared your business’s pipes for the cold weather yet? Avoid bursts and leaky pipes this season by following these 4 easy steps on our blog.

Meet the dogs of AfB

Meet the dogs of AfB

Did you know that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue this year?! Which is why this year, Affinity for Business have been busy implementing mental health initiatives to improve the quality of our mental health and wellbeing in the AfB workplace. From signing the Time to Change Employer Pledge, to training our Mental Health First Aid team and introducing bring your dog to work day. It has been a huge honour to have our efforts recognised by the UK Business Awards and Not a Red Card Awards being in the finals for the Best Place to Work and the Best Mental Health Initiative categories this year.

Since introducing bring your dog to work day earlier this year, we’ve seen lots of smiling faces across the office and had plenty of fun getting to know the dogs of AfB. So instead of keeping our canine friends all to ourselves, we thought we would introduce you to a few of them…
Keep an eye out on our blog, we will be introducing you to the rest of our AfB dogs over the next few weeks.

Name: Cushelle
Nickname: Cushty
Age: 6
Owner: Jo Restall, Assistant Management Accountant at AfB
Favourite Toy: Bunny/ Ball
Fun Fact: Cushty loves to jump in large puddles and rivers. One time, when on her walk at Gadebridge Park, she entered as a white Labrador and exited a brown muddy one after darting into the dirty river. Not only was she full of mud, but she also decided to shake it off all over Jo’s white trousers!

Name: Izzy
Nickname: Whizzpops
Age: Approximately 12
Owner:
Adam White, Key Account Manager at AfB
Favourite Toy: Toy Duck
Fun Fact: Izzy often volunteers at the Royal Vet College for practical teaching, helping students or vets on courses practice using the ultrasound machines.
She has also appeared on the BBC programme Young Vets and was in a promotional day for the animal care trust with some players from Saracens Rugby Club.

Name: Teddy
Nickname: Ted
Age: 6
Owner:
Charlotte Joyce, Retail Services Advisor at AfB
Favourite Toy: Any toy he can take the stuffing out of!
Fun Fact:
Ted likes to find small spaces to sleep in when he was a puppy he was about the size of a pint of milk which made him very hard to find. While unpacking into their new house he managed to find a way under the surfaces in the kitchen, the only problem was he couldn’t find his way back out. Charlotte had to get him out by detaching some of their kitchen cupboards!

We hope you enjoyed getting to know the dogs of AfB as much as we loved having them wonder around our office. Stay tuned for part two coming soon on our blog!

If you’re interested in a career with us at AfB, you can keep an eye out on the careers page on our website for openings.

World Rivers Day: 5 Fun Facts about Britain’s Rivers

World Rivers Day: 5 Fun Facts about Britain’s Rivers

The annual World Rivers Day falls on the last Sunday of every September, it’s a great way to highlight the values of our rivers and create awareness of the threats that they face. Britain’s rivers have been integral in the growth of our towns and cities, they provide fresh water for drinking, they provide travel links, rich habitats for wildlife, and keep our businesses running and our farms thriving. By working together, we can ensure that the health of our rivers is improved, for more useful information you can take a look at the World Rivers Day website. To celebrate, we thought we would get to know Britain’s rivers with 5 fun facts about our waterways in this week’s blog post.

Britain’s longest river is…

Affinity for Business World Rivers Day: 5 Fun Facts about Britain’s Rivers

Did you know that the longest river in Britain is 220 miles long?! The River Severn’s source is 2001 feet high in Plynlimon, Wales and flows down towards Bristol, ending at the Severn Estuary, ultimately flowing in to the Bristol channel – it is 220 miles long in total making it the largest river in Britain.  It is home to many varieties of wildlife, notably the endangered 5 spotted Ladybird, which can be found on the lower estuary flats.

The River Thames is home to a few different types of marine life! 

Affinity for Business World Rivers Day: 5 Fun Facts about Britain’s Rivers

In fact, there have been a total of 366 marine mammals spotted in The River Thames this year (2018). Including harbour seals, grey seals, harbour porpoises and dolphins. In 2006, there was even a northern bottlenose whale spotted in London which was 5 metres long and weighed around seven tonnes! ZSL has been collecting public sightings of these marine mammals since 2004 and you might even see them yourself as they’re frequently sighted all the way up to Richmond. Take a look at where they’ve been spotted on the ZSL public sightings map.

We have more chalk rivers than any other country in the world

Affinity for Business World Rivers Day: 5 Fun Facts about Britain’s Rivers

Chalk streams are waterways that run through chalk hills located towards the sea. The chalk in the streams act as a filtering effect and as a result, the waters are alkaline and clear. There are only 200 chalk rivers known globally, 170 of which are found in the UK in Southern and Eastern England. Some of these include the rivers Itchen and Avon in Wessex and the River Wensum in Norfolk- they’re world famous for their trout and salmon fishing!

The River Tyne was used to export coal

During the 13th Century up until the 20th Century, the River Tyne was used as a passing through to export coal. Although the river is no longer used for this purpose, there are still some of the original structures that were used to load coal onto ships.

The River Dee Valley is home to the longest aqueduct

Affinity for Business World Rivers Day: 5 Fun Facts about Britain’s Rivers

An Aqueduct is a bridge for water to pass through across gaps such as valleys or ravines, they’re a great transport link for boats and ships too. The longest aqueduct in Britain is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal which crosses the border between England and Wales – feeling adventurous? Many spend the day canoeing across it! The Aqueduct is an impressive 307 miles long and crosses right over the River Dee Valley.

Ever wondered what’s in your business’s drinking water? Find out in this blog post, as we cover water hardness, soft water and other common issues.