Huge increase in written complaints to Southern Water

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SOUTHERN Water has promised to do better after the number of customer complaints almost doubled in a single year.

A report by the Consumer Council for Water showed the company received 22,815 written complaints in 2012/2013. The previous year it received 12,863 complaints.

The Worthing-based firm, which collects wastewater for most residents in The News area, has put the increase down to payment queries as many customers received a water meter for the first time.

The company admitted it did not have enough staff in its customer advice centre to cope with the volume of calls.

It has now recruited extra staff, enhanced customer service training, and created a dedicated debt advice centre.

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.’

Meanwhile, the number of written complaints to Portsmouth Water, which supplies drinking water, increased from 248 to 320.

This was still the lowest figure for any water company in England and Wales.