The Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) is a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints with your electricity, gas or water supplier. Before you contact EWOQ with your complaint, you must first try to resolve the problem with your electricty, gas or water company.
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Guide to making a complaint

The complaints process

Talk to your supplier first. Unless you tell them, they won't know there is an issue. Let them know what resolution you are seeking and give them a chance to review and fix the issue. In many instances, this is the quickest way to get your complaint resolved.

Understand your supplier's complaints process. Most organisations will have their complaints process listed on their website, but if not, don't be afraid to call and ask. Often you can request your complaint be reviewed by a team leader, or have your complaint escalated to a higher level if you are not satisfied with the time it is taking to resolve your complaint.

Contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman. If you are not satisfied with the resolution offered by your supplier, or are unable to get your problem attended to, lodge a complaint with EWOQ. We are an independent party and will work directly with you and your supplier to investigate and resolve complaints.

 

Handling a complaint with your supplier

If you have a problem with your energy or water supplier, you must try to resolve the problem with them first. You have to give them a reasonable opportunity to resolve your complaint before contacting us for assistance.

Step 1 - Is your complaint with your retailer or distributor?

Depending on what your complaint is about, depends on whether you need to talk to your retailer or your distributor.

Your energy retailer is the company that bills you for electricity and/or gas. The types of issues you might want to contact your energy retailer about could include: payment, account and contract issues; disconnection; and conduct of their telemarketers/door-to-door sellers.

Your energy distributor is the company that owns the poles, wires and pipelines that supply energy to your home. The types of issues you might want to contact your energy distributor about could include: loss of power; damages to property and equipment; and issues with vegetation (eg. maintenance of trees around powerlines).

In south east Queensland, you only need to contact your water supplier as they are both the retailer and the distributor.

If you don't know who your retailer or distributor is, search the list of energy and water suppliers or check your bill.

Step 2 - Contact your supplier

When contacting your energy or water supplier to make a complaint, it's important to get your facts right, stay calm and polite at all times and be persistent.

Before calling your supplier, you should:

  • make a note of what you want to say (a brief and factual description of the details of your complaint in the order they happened), and
  • have your contract or bill with your account number and any other documents handy.

When you call your supplier, remember to:

  • write down the name of the person you speak to, the date and time, and what is said
  • explain your problem and what you would like them to do to resolve it (if your matter is urgent, let them know and explain why)
  • ask what they will do to resolve your complaint and how long it will take (make sure you get a reference number if the matter cannot be resolved immediately), and
  • ask to speak to a senior staff member if the customer service operator cannot resolve the issue.

If your complaint is complicated but not urgent, you may choose to send a written complaint to your supplier. If you need to put it in writing:

  • address your letter to the Customer Service Area
  • include your name, address, daytime phone number, and account number
  • describe your complaint (a brief and factual description of the details of your complaint in the order they happened)
  • explain the outcome you seek
  • set a deadline for when you want the matter resolved, and
  • explain how you would like them to contact you in reply (eg. by phone, letter, email etc.).

Consider using registered mail so you can be sure your letter was received. Send photocopies of original documents such as bills and contracts, and keep copies of any letters/important documents you send and receive.

Step 3 - If still unresolved, contact EWOQ for assistance

If you are still not satisfied after contacting your supplier to resolve your problem, you can lodge a complaint with us.

 

Representatives who charge a fee

EWOQ provides a free service for all energy consumers in Queensland, and water consumers in south east Queensland. Consumers are not charged for EWOQ’s services when they contact us for assistance with the resolution of complaints.

If EWOQ is contacted by a representative on behalf of a consumer we require an authority from the consumer, either verbally or in writing, for the representative to act on behalf of the consumer.

Where it appears the representative is charging a fee to the consumer in relation to any aspect of the matter referred to EWOQ, we will contact the consumer directly and advise them that our service is free. If the consumer chooses to continue to be represented by their agent for a fee, the consumer’s wishes will be respected and EWOQ will deal directly with their agent.

If the consumer advises that they wish to deal directly with EWOQ, we will confirm this in writing to the consumer and deal directly with them regarding their complaint. It is the consumer’s responsibility to advise the agent of their decision to deal directly with EWOQ.

This approach is consistent with other members of the Australia and New Zealand Energy & Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON).

 

Making a complaint in writing

  • Include your name, address and phone number/s.
  • Find out the name and title of the person who can deal with your complaint so your letter or email reaches the right person.
  • State that you have a complaint and want to use the supplier's complaints process.
  • Briefly explain what your complaint is about and the outcome you want.
  • Request a written acknowledgement of your complaint within 10 working days.
  • Attach copies of any relevant documents.
  • Keep a copy of your letter and any other relevant documents.

 

Making a complaint by phone

  • Ask the name and position of the person you raise the complaint with.
  • Tell them you want to use the supplier's complaints process.
  • Ask how they can help resolve your complaint. If they can't help, ask to speak to a complaints officer or a manager.
  • Keep your cool - remember to state your complaint clearly and calmly.
  • Always keep notes of your conversation, including the time and date and the person you spoke to.
  • If you are unsure of the outcome of the call, follow up with an email or letter.

 

Top tips

  • Don't leave it too late: Raise your complaint within a reasonable timeframe to ensure the information is still fresh, the decision-maker is still around and the evidence is recent.
  • Get your facts straight: Be clear about your concerns and the steps you want taken to fix the problem. What is your complaint about? How has it affected you? What outcome do you want?
  • Play by the rules: Every supplier has an official complaints process. You can find information about the supplier's complaints process from their website or by contacting them.
  • Keep records: It is important to keep copies of any letters or other documents you send or receive. Keep notes about any phone conversations.
  • Follow up: If you have made a written complaint and have not heard anything within a month, you should phone the supplier or follow up with a letter or email. Ask them to regularly update you about your complaint.