Southern Utilities of Smith County

by admin on August 31, 2009

in Water

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.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Attaway November 3, 2010 at 11:38 am

I completely agree with the statements above. It's mind-numbing how far behind the times Southern Utilities has become.

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Brittany November 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I completely agree as well! The service is TERRIBLE! I know that apparently a website is just too much for them… Maybe we could compromise and at least have an overnight drop box for those of us that can't make it by 5!! Oh wait… I might be asking too much!!

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Betsy November 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Yesterday I dropped my payment at their office. Since they don't have a drop box for after hours, they tell you to slip the envelope between the front glass doors. This morning my water was cut off!! They claim that my payment wasn't received!! I had put $58 in that envelope, it was cash since I didn't have time to get a money order and I was out of checks. Upon contacting them about my disconnect and where the heck my money went to, I was refused telephone access to a manager. I drove up there and was then allowed phone access to a manager who told me that "it was my problem" then hung up on me!. I am filing a police report for the theft of my money and contacting the Public Utility Commission. More as it happens…..

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aaron December 30, 2011 at 1:04 am

This is ridiculous I need a "southern utilities website ",To pay my bill! Get with the times it's not 1965 any more,this is America not some third world country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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tylerdirectory January 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm

It does seem reasonable for a company that makes so much money from such a huge essential service would higher a programmer to develop an online payment system or simply buy a software package and implement it for them.

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amy June 14, 2012 at 8:31 am

Absolutely ridiculous that they can't offer some type of online payment. They service customers that live 20+ miles from their business ofice. If you live on the lake then you are out of luck if you need them quickly to resolve expedited payment issues. Get with the times.

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PEB April 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I have been a Southern Utilities customer since 1977 and never had an Issue. Yes it would be nice to have a web site to pay bills and access account information. If you have a bank account you can use bill pay from you own account. I have been paying my bill this way for several years.

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