We are reviewing our urban and rural water customer service codes to ensure they continue to meet the needs of Victorian water consumers.
Water codes review 2019
Workshop 120 June 2019
Working GroupSeptember - December 2019
Draft decisionto be advised
Consultation periodto be advised
Final decisionto be advised
We have temporarily postponed the review of our urban and rural water customer service codes. At the same time, we have made a short-term amendment to the codes to adopt National Cabinet approved policies and principles for coronavirus support by essential services. We have also released accessible communication guides to promote accessible and effective communications.
The water codes review commenced in 2019 with the aim of updating our codes to ensure they meet the contemporary needs of Victorian water consumers. Since the start of 2020, the circumstances of many Victorian consumers changed rapidly, with little certainty about the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
For this reason we considered it would be in the best interests of consumers to put the review on hold while we worked with stakeholders to understand the full effects of the coronavirus.
We look forward to engaging with our all our stakeholders on identifying the optimal time to resume this important work.
Our review will include our urban and rural water customer service codes. We're also reviewing our 'reasonable endeavours' checklist, as it relates to the hardship-related guaranteed service level (GSL).
View all of our customer service codes.
Documents we're reviewing
Find out more about our short-term amendment to the customer service codes
What our review will cover
Bills and meter reads
The review will concentrate on billing and backbilling of customers, and the use of a customer's own meter reads.
The review will look at:
- access to supply for life support customers
- assistance available to customers who experience difficulty paying their bills
- how the energy sector's payment difficulties framework could be relevant to the water sector
- ensuring that restriction of water supply due to non-payment remains a measure of last resort.
Customer notification and other communication
The review will look at notification around planned and unplanned interruptions to supply, and the way water businesses communicate with customers.
Stakeholder Working Group
We are building on our stakeholder engagement for the water codes review with a Working Group made up of representatives from water businesses and the community sector. The Working Group will convene for the first time on 12 September 2019, and an agenda items for this and future meetings can be found under the resources tab. The Working Group's purpose is to:
- help the commission understand the expectations stakeholders have of the work program
- share insights and knowledge to inform the nature and the extent of the code changes
- develop alternatives to and identify solutions for the preferred approach
- provide feedback through the drafting stages for the code.
Final decisions on the form and content of code amendments will be made by the commission.
The Working Group will consider areas of review including:
- billing requirements
- customer charters
- debt and restriction
- interest charges
- a minimum standard for water businesses to proactively engage with customers
- future developments like digital water metering that might affect customer data and privacy
- the reasonable endeavours checklist under the hardship GSL
- how the spirit and intention of the energy sector’s Payment difficulty framework might be translated for the water sector.
The issues listed are indicative of those raised by stakeholders so far. We are open to hearing from our industry and community stakeholders about any other issues that aren’t included in this agenda.
Network related issues identified through this process will be the subject of a further code review in the lead up to our water price review in 2023.
Industry and community forum
Our workshop brought the water sector together with community advocacy organisations and specialist services to form a common understanding of the issues we are currently facing and of the community outcomes we hope to achieve through our review of the water customer service codes.
We looked at best practice for making customer information accessible to all Victorian water consumers. Presentations from the workshop are available on the resources page.
What's changed since the launch of these codes
Since the launch of our urban and rural customer service codes in mid-2000s, we have seen significant changes in the sector, including:
- how we regulate Victoria's water pricing framework (PREMO)
- the introduction of new consumer protection for customers affected by family violence.
In the energy sector, we also introduced the Payment difficulties framework (effective from 1 January 2019) to better support electricity and gas customers who are facing difficulties paying their bills.
Given these changes, we are considering the operation of the water customer service codes and reasonable endeavours checklist as it relates to the hardship related guaranteed service level measures.