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Complaints to South West Water drop by a quarter

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 26, 2012

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South West Water is celebrating after the number of complaints received from customers has halved in three years.

A report issued by the Consumer Council for Water has confirmed that the number of complaints the firm received in 2011/12 was more than 4,500.

It represents a drop of a quarter on the previous year's total, and is less than half the figure of nearly 10,000 for 2008/09.

The majority of complaints, at 44 per cent, centred around billing and charges, in a region where customers face the highest water bills in the country because of the company's obligation to keep beaches clean. But more than 95 per cent of customers' complaints are resolved first time – putting South West Water in the top five of 23 water companies for swift responses.

Customer relations director Monica Read said it was "great news" for the company and for customers, and said staff had put effort into tackling issues and resolving complaints quickly.

"We are particularly pleased that the Consumer Council for Water has acknowledged that we are building on previous years' improvements and our continuing determination to drive complaint numbers down.

"This represents a lot of hard work by our staff, all of whom are committed to providing first-class service and excellent value for money to our customers."

This year the company has invested in new technology to ensure the effective management and speedy resolution of customer enquiries, as well as improving online account services and giving customers real-time information about the status of leaks and maintenance work in their area on the company website.

Overall, the report found that customer complaints across the UK dropped by nearly 12 per cent, reaching their lowest level since 2005.

In total, 163,027 written complaints were made to water companies across England and Wales in the year to March 31, 2012, compared to 185,140 in 2010/11. Complaints have now fallen for the fourth consecutive year.

Tony Smith, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), said: "Customer complaints have been consistently decreasing since CCWater started putting pressure on water companies and identifying poor performers.

"Last year complaints fell at almost three times the rate of the previous year (2010/11)."

But he warned: "While water is currently a monopoly industry, 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 CCWater will continue to support them in demanding a consistently good level of service across the country."

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