Mr P was in debt because he was told he didn’t have to pay for water use (February 2017)

Energy disconnection and water restriction
Case Number 2016/15322
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mr P contacted EWOV dissatisfied with his water corporation. He had received an imminent restriction notice for usage he did not believe he was required to pay. Mr P said when he moved into the property he was told he would not need to pay for water. He also said that the water bills were not sent to him, but rather were sent in the name of the Office of Housing between 2013 and 2016 and totalled over $700. He then received a backbill for 18 months in his name. When he called the water corporation to tell it of the error he was told he was not responsible for the arrears. However, because he continued to receive bills the matter remained unresolved. In order to fix the problem, Mr P wanted the water corporation not to restrict his water supply, flag the property for life support, and to explain why he has received bills in his name when they should be sent to the Office of Housing.

The Investigation

EWOV initially raised an Assisted Referral for a higher level representative at the water corporation to contact the customer directly. But the water corporation requested the matter be escalated to an Investigation – because it believed it had already provided information to Mr P and could not resolve the matter further.

EWOV conducted a full investigation into the matter which showed Mr P was required to pay for water usage at the property. The water corporation confirmed that bills were initially sent to the Office of Housing because it had not notified the water corporation that a new tenant had moved into the property. Once it received this notification in February 2014, the bills were correctly issued. In July 2016, the water corporation also checked with the Office of Housing that Mr P was required to pay for the water usage charges at the property – based on his tenancy agreement with the Office of Housing.

The water corporation said no payments had been received since January 2014. However, it did confirm that Mr P was entitled to hardship assistance to help repay his arrears and ongoing usage.

The Outcome

To assist Mr P via its hardship program, the water corporation sent him a Utility Relief Grant Scheme (URGS) form and updated its records with Mr P’s concession details so as to backdate his concession entitlements.

The water corporation said it would also update its system to note that Mr P had life support at the property and provided him with a direct contact at the corporation. Mr P accepted that he was required to pay for water usage at the property and agreed to contact the water corporation to establish a payment plan for the arrears once his concession and URGS application had been applied and backdated to the account. The case was closed on this basis.

More information: payment difficulties, catch-up bills, and life support appliances and disconnections

Read more about what to do when you can’t pay an electricity, gas or water bill, your rights and responsibilities, and how to get help. More information about what to do when you receive a catch-up bill or backbill, possible reasons for the delay and your rights and responsibilities can be found on our Delayed and catch-up bills issues page. If you're reliant on life support appliances, it is important your that you contact your energy retailer and local electricity distributor to advise them of this. Read our Life support appliance reliant customers Hot Topic for more information.

 

 

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