From April customers in England and Wales can go to an independent adjudicator if their complaint has not been resolved by their water company or after intervention from the Consumer Council for Water.
Complaints against water companies have fallen six years in a row and in the majority of cases companies offer a remedy that satisfies the customer. However, in a small number of cases, and after intervention from CCWater, disputes reach deadlock.
The water companies, working with CCWater and Ofwat, have developed an additional service so customers have a final opportunity to resolve their complaint without having to go to court. The service will be free to use for the customer, and the adjudicator’s decision will be binding on the water company.
The scheme, called the Water Redress Scheme or WATRS, will address disputes relating to bills and payments, metering, water supply and wastewater sewerage services and will aim to make its decision within 20 working days of receiving an application. If WATRS supports a customer complaint, it will decide what action the company must take, including carrying out work or paying compensation for loss or damage.
The WATRS scheme is be funded by the water companies but run independently by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) and overseen by an independent panel.