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Energy and Water Ombudsman Process

Step 1: Contact Aqwest

When you have a complaint about your water service, contact Aqwest to try and resolve your concerns. Water Utilities are required to deal with complaints from customers within 15 days.

If you approach the Ombudsman with a complaint without first giving your Water Utility a chance to respond, the Ombudsman will ask you to take your complaint back to the Utility.

Step 2: Lodge your complaint

If you have not been able to resolve your concerns through the Water Utility's complaints procedure, you can ask the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Water to investigate the complaint on your behalf.

The Water Ombudsman will need to know why you are not satisfied with the Utility's actions, and what you would like to see happen to resolve the matter.

You can lodge your complaint with the Energy and Water Ombudsman in writing, by telephone or by email. (If possible, send copies of any papers that will help us to understand the issues involved).

If you would prefer to make your complaint in person, staff at the Energy and Water Ombudsman Office are available to meet with you to discuss your case.

The office's contact details are :

  • Address : Energy and Water Ombudsman Level 2, Albert Facey House 469 Wellington Street Perth WA 6000
  • Postal Address: PO Box Z5386 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 631
  • Tel: (08) 9220 7588 or
  • Freecall : 1800 754 004
  • Fax : (08) 9220 7599
  • Website : www.ombudsman.wa.gov.au/energyandwater

While it is not essential for you to lodge your complaint in writing, doing so will assist the staff of the Ombudsman to document and follow up your concerns and explain your complaint to others.

Step 3 Investigation

When your complaint is received by the Ombudsman, they will seek further information on the nature of the problem, what has caused it, why you are unhappy with the response of your Utility, and what action you would like taken.

In many cases staff from the Ombudsman’s office will contact the Water Utility for further information. This usually involves sending the Water Utility a copy of your complaint and asking for comments on your case. The Ombudsman may also need to ask further questions, review the Utility's files or hold meetings.

When investigating your complaint, the Ombudsman will try to mediate between you and the Water Utility. In dealing with you they will provide prompt, courteous, and where possible helpful responses to your enquiries. Staff will identify themselves to callers and follow up responses in a timely manner.

Step 4: Outcome
If the Water Utility has made a mistake, the Ombudsman can recommend it reconsider or change its decision, apologise, or compensate you. A common outcome is for the provision of further information and explain why a particular decision was taken.
Step 5: Other avenues
If you are dissatisfied with how the Energy and Water Ombudsman has dealt with your case, you can take your complaint to the Minister for Water or refer your complaint to independent arbitration.
How long does an investigation take?
Most complaints can be solved quickly, some within the day but others typically within three weeks. Where your complaint is complex or requires consultation with your Water Utility the response may take longer than usual. On such occasions you will be contacted and kept up to date on the progress of your complaint.
Mediation and arbitration

The mediation process relies on the co-operation of the customer and Utility to reach a mutually agreed solution.

Where the Ombudsman has decided that the Water Utility is at fault, it will ask the provider to take steps to put the matter right. In some cases the law or Utility policies may not allow what you want. The Ombudsman cannot direct a Utility to take a specific course of action. However the Ombudsman can make recommendations to the Utility, report findings to the Minister for Water or release a public report.

Where it has not been possible for the Ombudsman to resolve a dispute by mediation we may, with your permission, refer your complaint to independent arbitration. The arbitration process can make a binding decision for both parties.

Independent arbitration is a formal process in accordance with the Commercial Arbitration Act. You will have an opportunity to select the arbitrator from a list of qualified and experienced people prepared by the Ombudsman. A fee may be involved that varies depending on the nature of your case.

More detailed information on the arbitration process is available from the Energy and Water Ombudsman.

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