Mr M’s water was restricted after receiving bills in someone else’s name (March 2017)

Energy disconnection and water restriction, High bills, Billing mistakes
Case Number 2016/23143
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mr M became the owner and resident of his property in 2005. He had been receiving and paying his water bills from that time. However, in early 2016 water bills addressed to his property, but in someone else’s name, began arriving in the mail. He returned them to sender, and continued to receive and pay water bills in his name.

In October 2016 Mr M’s water was restricted, without receiving any restriction warning notices. He contacted his water company and it told him that another person had created an account at the property, and Mr M had only been paying the water supply charges. In order for the water to get reconnected, Mr M’s company told him he would need to pay the $1,400 owing for the property.

Unhappy with the water company’s response, Mr M contacted EWOV.

The Investigation

Because Mr M’s water had been restricted, EWOV skipped the usual Assisted Referral process, and went straight to an Investigation. When a customer has their energy disconnected or their water restricted, it is EWOV’s policy to arrange a same day reconnection/derestriction, so the customer is on supply while we investigate the issue. Mr M’s water was derestricted that day, and we continued the Investigation.

We passed on Mr M’s concerns to his company, as well as what he was seeking in order to resolve the issue:

  • Clarify what the $1,400 overdue amount related to, and ensure he was not being billed for someone else’s usage.
  • Explain how another person opened an account for his property.
  • Reduce the amount owing because of the inconvenience.

EWOV investigated how another person’s name was attached to the account at Mr M’s property, and the company told us it got a request from another person to open an account at the property via an online form. We ensured that this error was fixed, and Mr M’s name was put back on the account. The company also offered to waive the overdue amount by 50% because of the inconvenience faced by Mr M.

The Outcome

The water company apologised to Mr M. It said the water usage charges of $1,400 were correct, but in light of the inconvenience it would reduce the amount owing by 50%, reducing it to $700. Mr M was happy with the company’s response, and the case was closed.

More information: disconnections and restrictions, water charges and reading your water bill

For more on how to read your water bill, check out EWOV’s Fact Sheet 16 – Charges on water bills or our Reading you bill video. Know what to do when your electricity or gas has been disconnected or your water supply has been restricted, as well as your rights and responsibilities.

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