I usually try to focus my writing efforts on businesses I can endorse (at least in some measure). This time however, I find it necessary to shine the rays of critism on one of the worst companies with whom I have ever had the misfortune of doing business.
For those citizens of Tyler who to get their water services from the city, be thankful that you need not do business with Southern Utilities. The fact that they have a monopoly on area water services outside the city proper allows them to charge whatever they will for the absolute minimum in return. The aforementioned monopoly has also served to insulate the public relations department (such as it is), from the companies reputation in the community. I have yet to encounter an institution (aside from the IRS perhaps), which cares less for the customers it is supposed to serve.
Upon returning home to Tyler, I purchased and moved into my new home. When the time came to activate the usual services I was able to open new accounts easily and usually over the phone except in one instance. The single most frustrating service to open was not in fact the gas, nor was it the electricity. The most difficult company to deal with, the one with the most red tape and unhelpful staff was in fact our local water company, Southern Utilities. I had potentially hazardous soruces of power and energy activated in my home by simple phone call, and yet, taking a shower required the former owner of my house (fortunately a friend of mine), to visit during his busy work week in order to remove his name from the account and validate the sale of the house.
But this initial hassel was only a sign of things to come. The customer service department does nothing to make the company more approachable. They have no on line services to allow the costumer an easier way to pay, nor will they take payments over the phone. For those financially challenging months which require a personal visit to ensure on time payment, its best to arrive before four o’clock since the lobby closes at that time. To be fair, the drive through window is now open until five, but you had better be prepared to pay in cash or with a check. Southern Utitlities does not accept either credit cards or check cards. And should you find yourself making a late payment, you can forget about an extention. Rarely are those granted, and when they are, you can bet a lot of stamina was required to win the argument.
But these complaints are not new. Virtually everyone I know who has dealt with S.U. tells me the same stories. So how can the company work its way back into the customer’s good graces? For starters get a website, one that provides easier access to individual accounts. This would necessitate allowing people to pay by card, also an improvement. Generally, at least appear to make an effort! Try to convince me that my satisfaction is actually important.
On a scale of one to five I have to give Southern Utilities a one. So if you’re new to Tyler and you have a choice of water companies, take the one that’s not Southern Utilities you’ll be glad you did. Southern Utilities is located on Broadway just north of the down town square.