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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Multiple plumbers but no leak

A customer saw water pooling in his water meter box and spilling into the gutter. He contacted his water distributor, who sent a crew to inspect it.

They determined there was no leak on their side of the meter and advised the customer to have a plumber check the internal plumbing for a concealed leak.

The customer engaged 2 plumbers, who found no leaks, but the second plumber saw a fire hydrant down the street leaking, with water running down the street and into the customer’s water meter. The water distributor was responsible for maintaining this hydrant.

The customer felt he’d been incorrectly advised to engage a plumber and paid $1000 in plumbing fees unnecessarily.

He lodged a reimbursement claim with the distributor, but it was denied. At this point, the customer contacted us for help.

We investigated and asked the water distributor to reconsider their refusal to reimburse the customer.

They maintained that they hadn’t been negligent or unreasonable in advising the customer to check their internal plumbing, as it’s a common issue after a fault in the infrastructure has been ruled out.

However, the water distributor did wish to resolve the matter amicably, so they offered the customer $1000 as a settlement.

The customer was extremely appreciative of this resolution, as this was exactly what he was seeking.

No sewage connection

After living at a property for over 10 years, a customer's water bill included a sewerage access charge for the first time. As a sewerage connection was not available at the customer's property, they contacted their water entity who informed a sewerage main was installed in their rear laneway two years ago. The customer advised the water entity there was no sewerage connection as the access point is at the highest point of their property and pumping would be needed to connect  to the sewerage main. After raising this matter with the retailer on several occasions, the customer contacted us as they believe they should not be charged for a sewerage connection they do not have.

Our investigation confirmed a sewerage main had been installed behind the customer's property, but the sewerage infrastructure was not compliant for the customer to have access. The water retailer applied a credit to the customer's account and confirmed future bills would not include a sewerage access charge.

Wrong address billed

A customer received a letter from their water retailer requesting they call. When the customer called, they were informed they owed over $7000 due to not paying their water bills for several years. The customer advised their retailer that the bills were being sent to the wrong address. The retailer offered a small credit and waiver of the interest charges, amounting to $900 discount. The customer offered to pay $3000 in full to clear all debt which was rejected. The customer contacted us for help, as they felt the retailer could have taken action sooner after receiving returned bills from the incorrect mailing address.
Our investigation confirmed the retailer had issued bills to the wrong address for a period of time. As the customer did not receive all their bills, we negotiated with the retailer to reduce the outstanding balance to an amount agreed by both parties. The water retailer agreed to credit the customer half of the accumulated debt and also applied the $900 discount previously offered. The retailer offered a payment plan for the remaining $3000. 

Incorrect meter read

After moving into a new home, a customer checked their water meter against the pre-settlement read to discover it was 249 kilolitres higher. As the home was vacant for five weeks and there was no concealed water leak, the customer disputed this water usage. It was further verified that there was not a leak when only two kilolitres of water were used during the first week the customer moved in. The water provider confirmed the customer's read was accurate, but declined to amend the pre-settlement read.

During our investigation, the water provider agreed there may have been an error when doing the pre-settlement read and offered to adjust the read based on the average daily consumption of the previous residents, equating to $408 credit. We did not believe this was the fairest resolution for the customer, so we successfully negotiated with the water provider that the fairer option would be to calculate the customer's consumption between taking ownership of the home and the undisputed read the customer took, resulting in a credit of $881. 

Big bill from a water leak

A customer noticed water running down their footpath, so contacted their water entity about a possible leak. Two days later a maintenance crew repaired the part of the water meter they believed caused the leak. The customer then received a letter from their retailer advising of higher than normal water usage over 120 kilolitres. They contacted their retailer about the $360 bill increase resulting from the water meter leak, but the matter was not resolved. The customer contacted us to investigate the link between the high bill and water leak. 

We established that the customer contacted the water entity to advise they were unable to turn off the water valve. We also concluded the reason the customer could not turn off the water supply was due to the valve being faulty. The water entity agreed to credit the customer $360.

High water consumption

For many years, a customer believed they had been overcharged by their retailer for water consumption. They believed their usage was not consistent with a two-person household, even exceeding the usage of neighbouring four and five-person households. The customer monitored their consumption for a number of years and noticed bills had increased by $200 per quarter. They used bore water and tank water for the garden, and the rainwater tank did not automatically top-up from the town supply. The customer discussed their concerns in detail with the water retailer. The retailer undertook various tests at the customer's property to check for a concealed leak or water meter error, but none were identified. The customer remained dissatisfied with the outcome and contacted EWOQ to investigate.

The water retailer advised they had undertaken tests at the customer's property which identified a small leak in a toilet cistern, but no other leaks or meter errors were found. They confirmed the customer's consumption was around 550 litres per day, whereas an average two-person household was around 328 litres per day. the retailer advised that the customer refused to pay for a laboratory meter test, however, the in situ and water bucket test demonstrated the water meter was recording accurately. The retailer acknowledged the customer's water consumption was high for a two-person household, however, there had not been any significant change in usage since the meter was installed in 2009. As the customer was proactive to establish the cause of the high usage, the retailer offered to install a data logger on the water meter for two weeks to obtain data about their consumption. They also offered to install a device free of charge so the customer could monitor their usage on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The device sounds an alarm when excessive water is used to alert customers of potential leaks. The customer was grateful for this resolution. 

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.