What’s a systemic issue?
It’s an issue, problem or change in company policy or practice that affects, or has the potential to affect, a number of customers. It may be caused by, but isn’t limited to, one or more of the following:
- a system change
- an alteration in performance levels (e.g. quality of supply, access to call centre)
- a policy or procedure change
- a lack of policy or procedure
- a lack of clear regulatory guidelines
- regulatory non-compliance
- the conduct of an energy or water provider’s employee, agent, servant, officer or contractor
- the action of a stakeholder (e.g. legislative or regulatory change leading to misunderstanding or misapplication of the change)
Under the EWOV Charter, we have a responsibility to identify potential systemic issues and, as appropriate, report these to relevant companies and regulators.
We identify systemic issues through the cases we receive and the complaints we investigate. A systemic issue may also be identified by the company itself and notified to us. Some affected customers contact us and some don’t.
By being proactive about reporting potentially systemic issues, we can work with companies and regulators to bring about redress for everyone affected (not just those who complain), reduce possible wider impact and minimise complaints.
Our systemic issues responsibilities differ slightly between energy and water.
In energy, we identify potential systemic issues and report them to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) for investigation and action. They are then discussed with the ESC at our monthly meetings. We now also report them to the Australian Energy Regulator.
In water, we identify, investigate and seek redress for affected customers—with a report to the Department of Sustainability and Environment on the outcome and whether the company has co-operated with us to resolve the issue appropriately.
Where there is a systemic aspect to a complaint, this is handled by our Systemic Issues Specialist, separately to the resolution of an individual customer’s concern/s.