Whether it’s getting a bill that is thousands of dollars more than what you normally pay or you find a meter mix-up has you paying for your neighbor’s water-use, the San Diego Public Utilities Department has been in the spotlight recently. But the billing complaints from customers to NBC 7 Responds have another common thread, customer service.
“I did actually finally reach somebody after five different times, it was quite a process trying to get a callback,” Laura Ambrose out of Pacific Beach said.
Some say the problem is being on-hold for so long, others say their problem was the attitude they received from service representatives.
“They basically ignore me,” Joe Zumbo said.
“Our customers have stated they are waiting for more than one hour on the phone, which is unacceptable,” Public Utilities Department Director Vic Bianes said at a recent city council committee hearing.
Bianes said the city has temporarily doubled call center staff by shifting water department employees around and by bringing in employees from other city departments.
Now, the Public Utilities Department said call wait times are five to 20 minutes long. Another change will include increased training for customer service representatives.
The City Auditor has said in addition to reviewing water billing practices, his agency will also be reviewing customer service at the Public Utilities Department and whether or not any improvements need to be made.
At the city council committee hearing two weeks ago, water officials said they would start publishing online weekly updates on the number of customer complaints and resolutions received by the customer service department. They also said numbers would be broken down by city council district.
NBC 7 Responds asked a spokesperson for the Public Utilities Department when these numbers would be available. The spokesperson said the numbers would be posted online Tuesday but so far, the information is not available.
UPDATE 7 p.m. 3/20/2018
The city communications department released the complaint numbers for each council district to NBC 7 Responds. Our team reviewed the numbers, to see the story click here.