Complaints to water companies

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A new report says the two water companies serving Crowborough have the highest proportion of written complaints.

The Consumer Council for Water say South East Water (which supplies drinking water) and Southern (which treats wastewater) remain too far adrift of the rest of the industry, despite both reporting a reduction in complaints:

Southern Water’s complaint levels were twice the industry average, while South East Water had more than double the complaints of the next worst water only company.  We have repeatedly told them that they need to bring themselves into line with the rest of the industry, but they continue to lag significantly behind. Both companies have renewed their commitments to us to put a greater focus on addressing the concerns of their customers.

The number of written complaints to the two companies have fallen around 28 per cent during the last year.  Southern and South East Water say they have made huge efforts to deliver a better service to their customers, but acknowledge there is still room for further improvement.

Water-ComplaintsDarren Bentham, Southern Water’s Chief Customer Officer, said:

While our performance in 2013/14 saw a big improvement, we are still lower down the results table than we want to be – and where our customers want us to be.

However, we are continuing to make changes which ensure we focus on our customers – from training, to new systems and an improved website. These changes are making a huge difference as proved by a significant reduction in written complaints over the past 18 months.

South East Water say with more customers are now using social media to interact with them and this has helped contribute to a fall in the number of complaints as customers get an immediate response.

Steve George, Customer Services Director for South East Water, said:

Over the past year we have been working hard to integrate the new communications technologies into Customer Service.

Not only has this new instant approach been welcomed by our customers, our own staff have enthusiastically embraced each development as it has come on board.

Although our focus is to prevent problems, when things go wrong for our customers we are always sorry and we endeavour to fix things as quickly as possible.

More than half of all complaints to water companies are about billing and charges.

Compulsory Water Meters

Over 200,000 compulsory water meters are being installed in homes across the South East.  The region has been designated by the Environment Agency as an area of serious water stress, meaning there is more demand for water than supply.  Meters are due to be fitted in Crowborough in Spring next year.  Customers will receive a brochure three months ahead of the meter being installed, which will give further details.

You can check when a meter will be fitted at your home here.  The Consumer Council for Water have a calculator to estimate whether you are likely to save by having a meter fitted.

The Consumer Council for Water say water companies need to be think about the pressure compulsory meters puts on some customers who are not used to receiving a water bill that changes in line with their consumption.

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