Water firm named as worst in country

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A WATER company has been named as the worst performing in the country.

Southern Water, which provides supplies to 1066 Country and elsewhere in the south east, saw a 77 per cent rise in the number of written complaints between April 2012 and April this year, compared to the previous 12 months, according to a report by the Consumer Council For Water, a body that represents water and sewerage consumers.

The report said it was ‘partly due to inadequate staffing resources’ and because customers were ‘not happy about receiving the highest increase in water and sewerage charges in the year’.

Southern Water has now pledged to improve its service. The firm said there had been a 40 per cent reduction in written complaints in June, July and August this year compared with the same period in 2012.

It added it received more telephone calls from customers than it could deal with effectively, which resulted in an increase in written complaints. Southern Water extended its call centre opening times but underestimated how many staff it would need on the telephones during these times.

Darren Bentham, chief customer officer, said: “I’d like to apologise for letting our customers down. Put simply, our service has not been good enough and these figures are unacceptable – but we’re doing something about it.

“We’ve carried out a major review of almost every aspect of our work with customers and have made some key changes, including putting a new management team in place. Things are getting better – we have more staff on the phones covering longer hours and we are receiving fewer complaints. We’re not the finished article but we’ve built up some great momentum.”