We are reviewing our urban and rural water customer service codes to ensure they continue meeting the needs of Victorian water consumers.
Water codes review 2019
Workshop 120 June 2019
Working GroupSeptember - December 2019
Draft decisionFebruary 2020
Consultation periodFebruary/April 2020
Final decisionApril 2020
This review will consider how we can make improvements to better protect and promote the long term interests of contemporary Victorian water consumers.
As part of this work, we are reviewing 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).
We'll be meeting with the Victorian water sector through 2019-20 to inform our review of the codes.
View all of our customer service codes.
Documents we're reviewing
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.
Our workshops will bring the 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.
Our first workshop, held on 20 June 2019, looked at best practice for making customer information accessible to all Victorian water consumers. Presentations from that 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.