WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT

1Know the complaint
  • Take your time
  • Clarify the issues
  • Consider a resolution
 
2Read our website and FAQs  
3Try to resolve  
4Seek Further Assistance  

How we can help

Most issues are resolved quickly by customers directly with their energy or water supplier. However, if you remain dissatisfied with the response provided by your energy or water supplier, you can contact us.

We are able to assist with complaints about:

  • Billing: High or disputed bills, not receiving bills, errors in bills, bulk hot water bills, estimated or incorrect usage charged, wrong tariff rates or fees and charges applied.
  • Credit: Payment difficulties, default listing, disconnection or imminent disconnection of your energy supply or restriction of your water supply for the non-payment of bills.
  • Connections: Problems with the provision and supply of electricity, gas or water.
  • Supply: Supply quality, planned or unplanned energy or water interruptions, or damages or loss due to supply issues.
  • Marketing: The conduct of energy salespeople, pressuring you into accepting a contract, or providing misleading information.
  • Transfers: The wrongful transfers of your account to another retailer or delays with a transfer.
  • Customer service: The behaviour and manner of energy and water retailer's staff, contractors and agents or the way they have accessed your property.

We are unable to assist with complaints about:

  • Energy or water pricing policies and tariff structures.
  • Government policies, codes or legislation.
  • Supply interruptions caused by emergency situations.
  • Matters which have already been considered by a court, tribunal or arbitrator, or are before one of those bodies.
  • Customer contribution to cost of capital works.
  • Electrical, gas fitting or plumbing services or appliances including solar systems.
  • On-selling energy or water to tenants in caravan parks, retirement villages and other multi-tenanted dwellings.
  • Bottled LPG.

If we are unable to assist you we will provide the appropriate contacts to help with your complaint.

Our complaint process

A complaint submitted with the Energy and Water Ombudsman SA will be handled via the case processes outlined below.

The case stages are:

Enquiry

  • An "Enquiry" is an issue that is recorded on our system, but no further action is taken, and no complaint is raised by our office.
We will note details of your contact as an "Enquiry" if you contact us:
  • Seeking information.
  • To provide feedback to a retailer or distributor without wishing to raise a complaint.
  • To make a general industry complaint, not related to one particular retailer or distributor.
  • For advice, or to clarify your rights, before contacting the retailer or distributor to make a complaint.
  • With a matter that is outside of our jurisdiction.
  • With a complaint which your have not yet raised with the retailer or distributor (we will refer you back to the retailer or distributor, and advise that you should give them the opportunity to resolve the matter first before we are able to offer further assistance).
Tips and information:
  • You must raise your complaint directly with your electricity, gas or water retailer or distributor before we can raise a complaint at our office. If you have not yet spoken with your retailer or distributor we may ask you to do so.
  • The Energy and Water Ombudsman SA charges retailers and distributors a fee for each complaint raised against them. It would not be fair to charge retailers or distributors a fee to resolve a complaint that the consumer has not given them the opportunity to resolve directly.
  • If you raise an issue that is outside of our jurisdiction we will do our best to direct you to an organisation that can assist you.

Refer to higher level

  • A "Refer to Higher Level" case (RHL) is a complaint that is recorded on our system, and passed through to a higher level at the retailer or distributor with the request for them to contact you and work with you to resolve the dispute.
  • For a complaint to be raised as an "RHL" you must first have raised the complaint directly with the retailer or distributor. If the complaint has not been resolved, or you are dissatisfied with the outcome then we may be able to assist.
  • Before we can determine if your issue can be raised as an "RHL" we will need to discuss the issue with you and gather specific information to ensure we can assist.
For this reason we ask that you be prepared prior to calling us:
  • Allow at least 15 – 20 minutes to explain your complaint to our office (either via phone, or using our online complaint form).
  • Have all relevant information and documentation with you when you contact us. We will need to ask you a number of questions that will often require specific information from bills or letters – if you do not have these handy we may ask you to contact us when you do.
  • Dot point the issues as you see them to ensure all of your concerns are raised.
  • Consider exactly what it is that you are seeking to resolve the complaint. We are here to pass through the details of your complaint and advise the retailer or distributor what you are seeking to resolve the complaint. As an independent body we cannot tell you what you should be seeking.
  • If your complaint is raised as an "RHL" with the retailer or distributor, there are expectations on all parties involved.
  • Our office will be provided with a closure response from the retailer or distributor confirming their offer of resolution. We will not provide you with a closure notification, although you will often receive a closure letter or email from the retailer or distributor.
  • We are not actively involved in the process of resolution at "RHL" level and will not contact you to speak about the outcome.
WHAT OUR OFFICE WILL DO WHAT THE ENTITY MUST DO WHAT YOU MUST DO
Pass through to the retailer or distributor the details of your complaint and what you are seeking to resolve the issue. Put your account on hold until the case is resolved (meaning suspension of any reminder notices, follow up action, credit or collection activity). Provide our office will all relevant details of your complaint.
Provide you with access to a higher level representative at the retailer or distributor. Contact you within 2 full business days of the complaint being raised with our office. Speak to the retailer or distributor when they contact you (including returning any missed calls, and responding to their emails).
Allow 20 business days for both parties to work together and to reach a resolution. Work with you over the next 20 business days to resolve the dispute. Pay any amounts that are not in dispute.
Independently review the resolution if you advise us that you are dissatisfied with it. Ensure your supply is not disconnected or restricted while your complaint remains an open RHL. Advise us if the dispute is not resolved at the end of the 20 business days allocated. 
Tips and information:
  • The retailer or distributor will assign a case manager to your complaint. The case manager should contact you within two business days of the case having been raised. If you are not contacted, please let us know.
  • When you are contacted by the case manager we suggest that you ask for a name and phone number or email address to make sure you can contact them if needed.
  • While there is no need for you to contact our office if a satisfactory resolution is reached, you may contact us if you are not satisfied with the resolution offered so we can continue to mediate a fair outcome.
  • You must participate in the dispute resolution process. We are not an advocacy service and we do not act on your behalf to resolve your dispute. When you raise a complaint with us it is expected that you will speak to and work with the retailer or distributor to reach a resolution. If you do not, the case will be closed.

Facilitation

  • A "Facilitation" case is an issue that has not been resolved during the "RHL" process or an instance where you remain dissatisfied with the retailer or distributor’s response.
  • If you are dissatisfied with the response from your retailer or distributor to an "RHL" case, you should contact us as soon as possible, providing details of why you are dissatisfied and any additional information.
Our office will consider the information and tell you either that:
  • We consider the resolution offered to be fair and reasonable and we will not be able to assist you further on the issue; or
  • We will escalate the case within our own office and continue working with you and the retailer or distributor.
  • If we continue with the case, we will facilitate the dispute between you and your retailer or distributor to achieve a fair and reasonable resolution of your dispute.
  • During a "Facilitation" we will maintain regular contact with you, keeping you up to date and once the issue has been resolved we will provide a short summary of the resolution.
WHAT OUR OFFICE WILL DO WHAT THE ENTITY MUST DO WHAT YOU MUST DO
Review any information from you regarding your dissatisfaction with a resolution from the retailer or distributor at "RHL" case level.   Advise our office if you remain dissatisfied with a resolution provided by the retailer or distributor at "RHL" case level.
Review the initial complaint, and review any resolution provided by the retailer or distributor, to the original "RHL" case.   Disclose all relevant information regarding the complaint.
Ask you further questions or for additional information or documentation regarding the complaint.   Respond to our questions or request for information within 10 business days. 
Ask a series of questions of the retailer or distributor to gain additional information. Respond to our questions or request for information within 10 business days.  
Contact you (via phone or email) to provide you with contact details for your Energy and Water Ombudsman SA case manager and to outline the process. Continue to work directly with you to try and resolve the dispute.  Continue to work directly with the retailer or distributor to try and resolve the dispute. 
Work with you and the retailer or distributor to resolve the dispute. Attempt to reach a resolution within 15 business days.   Continue to pay any undisputed amounts. 
Tips and information:
  • We will assign a case manager from our office as the point of contact for your "Facilitation" case.
  • At the "Facilitation" stage we assist in continuing the dialogue between you and the retailer or distributor and expect both parties to participate in the process.
  • We aim to resolve complaints promptly. Each case level your complaint progresses through has a maximum time-frame for resolution. If your retailer or distributor does not respond to the matter within the set time-frame, the case will be escalated to the next case level.

Investigation

  • Where a case has been identified as a more complex matter involving several issues, remains unresolved or is unlikely to be resolved within the "Facilitation" case time frame, we may decide to investigate the matter independently.
  • In order to ensure we are clear about the details, we may ask you to provide a written summary of your complaint as well as any relevant supporting documentation, such as copies of bills and letters received from your retailer or distributor.
During an "Investigation", we will request information from your retailer or distributor including:
  • Account records.
  • Copies of letters or other correspondence.
  • Technical reports.
  • Details of any offers they have made.
  • Decisions made by the retailer/distributor regarding your complaint.
We may also request further action from the retailer or distributor such as:
  • Meter readings.
  • Meter inspections.
  • Meter tests.
  • An "Investigation" level case may take a further eight weeks (or longer, depending on the complexity of the issue) to complete and we will maintain regular contact to update you.
  • At the "Investigation" case level our office will manage the dispute and there will be no further direct contact between you and the retailer or distributor regarding your complaint.
  • We will review all of the information provided by you and the retailer and/or the distributor and work towards a fair and reasonable outcome. At the conclusion of the "Investigation" we will provide you with a detailed report  and summary of our conclusions. The case will then be closed.
WHAT OUR OFFICE WILL DO WHAT THE ENTITY MUST DO WHAT YOU MUST DO
Review the details of the initial complaint. Carry out any additional action that we request to assist in resolving the case. Stop any further contact with the retailer or distributor and continue to pay any undisputed amounts. 
Review all information provided by the retailer or distributor (including prior offers of resolution) and request additional information or data. Provide additional information or data requested by our office within 10 business days.  
Ask additional questions of the retailer or distributor. Respond to questions asked by our office within 10 business days.    
Review all information provided by you (including any dissatisfaction with prior resolutions).   Disclose all relevant information regarding the complaint.
Ask additional questions or request additional information from you.   Respond to any questions or provide information we have requested within 10 business days.
Tips and information:
  • Our office is not a customer or industry advocate nor do we provide legal services.
  • We are unable to assist you with a matter that has already has been considered by a court, tribunal or arbitrator, or is before one of these bodies.
  • Even if a resolution is deemed fair and reasonable by the Energy and Water Ombudsman SA, you have the right to pursue other avenues, including legal action, if you are not satisfied with the resolution.

Review

  • If you remain dissatisfied following a "Facilitation" you should contact our office to take the matter further. Please advise us of your concerns with the outcome in writing, within 14 days. We will consider the reasons for your dissatisfaction and the case may proceed to "Investigation", if the outcome does not appear fair and reasonable. We will contact you to advise you of the outcome of the case review and the action to be taken, if any.
  • If you are dissatisfied following the closure of an "Investigation", you must advise us of any concerns with the outcome in writing, within 30 days. The Ombudsman will be advised of your dissatisfaction, and a staff member not previously involved with the case will be allocated to independently review the case. The findings of the review will be communicated to you and the retailer or distributor involved in the case.
Tips and information: 
  • A case review will be limited to the matters disputed by you in writing and may take in to consideration:
  • The facts of the case, based on the information available to our office at the time;
  • Adherence to our case handling processes and procedures;
  • Adherence to our guiding principles;
  • Adherence to principles of procedural fairness; and
  • Other such matters as considered appropriate by the Ombudsman.

Determination

  • Although we strive to reach settlement throughout our previous case levels, a determination is a binding decision where a case remains in dispute.The Ombudsman has the power to make a determination on the case and it is automatically binding on the retailer or distributor if you accept the determination. 
Once a binding decision has been made by the Ombudsman:
  • You have 15 business days in which to accept the determination.
Once accepted by you the retailer or distributor must:
  • Adhere to the requirements of the Ombudsman’s determination; and
  • Fulfil the requirements of the determination within ten business days.
If you do not accept the Ombudsman’s determination:
  • The retailer or distributor is released from the terms of the determination.
  • You can pursue remedies in any other forum you may choose.
  • We will no longer be able to assist you with the dispute.
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