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Water companies vow to improve following complaints
Water companies serving Sussex have vowed to improve after they were named among the most complained about in the country.
The annual figures, released by the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), reveal that South East Water (SEW) was the most complained about in England and Wales in the last financial year.
Southern Water came in as third worst.
The rankings were arranged by the number of complaints compared to the organisation’s customer base.
SEW had a total of 147 complaints per 10,000 customers, with Southern racking up 64 per 10,000 customers.
Steve George, customer services director at SEW, said his company had seen complaints drop for three years in a row and viewed the rise as “unusual”.
He put it down partly to the increase in customers wanting to have water meters fitted. As a result other maintenance calls were pushed back.
Mr George said: “We are pleased that our service has returned to the improving trends and we can reassure our customers of the efforts we’re making to fix their issues, quickly and first time.
“The results we’re seeing for 2012 show we are back on track to see our lowest level of customer complaints in five years.”
Nationally, complaints fell by 12% across all water companies for the fourth year in a row.
In total there were 163,027 written complaints in the 12 months to the end of March this year. Just seven of the 23 water and sewerage companies reported a rise in consumer gripes compared with the previous year.
Southern Water director of customer services, Kim Salmon, said she was “disappointed” with its increase following a 75% drop in complaints since 2007/08.
She said: “Providing the best possi- ble service to our customers is a priority and we are looking at areas of our business which cause our customers the most dissatisfaction.
“We will be focusing our resources and expertise in improving these areas.”
Tony Smith, CCW’s chief executive, said: "Water is currently a monopoly industry, but companies must not rest on their laurels and assume that they can get away with delivering poor service.
“Today’s consumer expects more than that and we will continue to support them in demanding a consistently good level of service across the country.”