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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Case studies

Further information:

All water providers in south east Queensland are members of EWOQ.

You can make a complaint to EWOQ about any of our members.

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Water bill received after isolation valve switched off

The customer contacted his DR on many occasions complaining that the isolation valve (which stops water flowing through the water meter) was faulty. The DR inspected the valve on several occasions but found that it was sound. The customer vacated his property for six months, and given the length of his absence, turned off the isolation valve before he left. Later the customer received a $900 water bill much of which concerned the period he was away. He contacted his DR to dispute the bill, and once again the isolation valve was inspected. This time it was found to be faulty as the meter was recording water passing through it. The valve was replaced and the customer asked that his bill be waived. The DR offered to reduce the bill by $200, however the customer was not satisfied with this and contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: On investigation it was determined that the isolation valve was faulty and water was being used by the customer in his absence because of a leak on his property. Had the isolation valve been working properly the water would not have been used. Consequently, the customer accepted the DR’s offer of an ex-gratia payment of $700, in addition to the $200 discount on the customer’s bill, reducing the customer’s account to zero.

Customer’s failure to respond leads to caveat over property

The customer leased a commercial property and received a letter from the DR for $5,000 in outstanding water rates. The customer was also advised that a caveat had been placed on the building for non- payment. The customer contacted the DR to advise that he leased the building and this was the first he knew of any outstanding debt on the property. He was advised that the DR had attempted to contact him by phone, email and post and that the caveat would not be removed until the customer agreed to pay the overdue fees and enter into a payment plan. The customer was not prepared to agree to this and contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: On investigation, it was confirmed that the bills were correct and every attempt had been made by the DR to make contact with the customer. It was also found that the customer had failed to honour a previous payment plan he had agreed to which led to the caveat being placed over the property. In the circumstances EWOQ agreed with the DR’s conduct. Nevertheless, the DR agreed to an extension of time in which to pay the outstanding sum, provided all future bills are paid on time.

Attempt to deny right to complain

The customer co-owns a block of four units where there is only one meter to record all water consumption. As the tenants of the units were frequently away, he did not understand why the bills were so high and contacted his supplier to discuss the issue. When the customer discussed the issue with his supplier they offered him a small amount of compensation per unit and told him he would lose the right to challenge any future bills.

The customer brought the issue to the attention of EWOQ to investigate. Through our investigation, the supplier informed us that the accounts were based on actual readings and we provided this information to the customer and explained how the accounts were calculated. The supplier also confirmed that water usage for the block of units was lower than the daily usage target of 200 litres per day per person. The compensation offered by the supplier was an adjustment of the unexplained high water bill and was provided to each of the unit owners. Although the supplier initially stated the customer would lose the right to challenge any future bills, following our investigation, the supplier advised each individual case would be assessed on merit and withdrew the condition that the customer could not challenge any future accounts.

Customer responsible for blockage

The customer’s sewerage overflowed on a number of occasions over a 12 month period due to tree roots invading the sewer pipe. On each occasion the customer’s DR cleared the blockages at no expense to the customer. Following the last overflow, the customer received a bill from the DR for $229 for the repairs which had been undertaken. When the customer queried the bill he was told he had been charged because the blockage was due to the roots of a tree on his property invading and blocking the pipe on the customer’s side of the meter. The customer contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: On investigation, it was found that the blockage to the pipe had occurred in the pipes on the customer’s property, and under the Water and Sewerage Services Code, the DR was not responsible for repairing the damage to the pipe. As such, the customer was required to pay the bill for $229, however, he was given an extension of time to pay.

Request for cheaper water meter rejected

The customer purchased one half of a newly built duplex and applied to the DR for a sub meter to be installed off the existing meter at the premises at a cost of $433. The customer was advised by the council that this option was no longer available and a new meter connected directly to the water main would have to be installed at a cost of $1392. With no other option available to her, the customer paid for a new meter to be installed. After the meter was installed, the customer contracted a plumber to connect the meter to the premises and discovered that a sub meter had actually been installed. Given the significant difference in cost, the customer contacted the DR to request a refund of the difference between the cost of a new and sub meter installation. The customer was advised that the sub meter had been installed in error and would have to be removed and a new meter installed. The customer did not want this to occur as it would have damaged the landscaping she had just completed. The customer sought the assistance of EWOQ.

Outcome: Following EWOQ’s intervention the DR agreed that the sub meter adequately serviced the customer’s premises and would not need to be removed. The DR agreed to refund the customer the difference between the two meters, totalling $939.