We developed 'guaranteed service level' resources to help water businesses support customers experiencing financial hardship.
Hardship related guaranteed service level measures review 2011
Water businesses are required to provide minimum levels of service to customers. These are called ‘guaranteed service levels’ and relate to things including communication with customers, water supply and water quality.
When residential water customers don’t pay their bills, water businesses can restrict their water supply or take legal action against them. This action should only be taken as a last resort.
Hardship related guaranteed service level measures discourage water businesses from using water supply restriction as a way to engage with customers who are experiencing financial difficulty.
Water businesses should support customers who are in financial difficulty. The ‘hardship related guaranteed service level’ payment gives businesses an incentive to contact customers who have missed payments and give them information about support options.
A water business must make this payment to a customer if the business hasn’t met the related guaranteed service levels before restricting a customer’s supply or taking legal action.
We’ve released several resources to help water businesses support their customers
In 2011, we introduced the hardship-related guaranteed service level into our customer service code, following consultation with the water sector and community groups.
In 2012, we expanded the scheme to include all urban water businesses and developed a checklist to guide water businesses. We included the checklist in our final and draft decision papers. We updated the checklist in 2015 in response to feedback form community groups and industry.
Our annual performance report monitors hardship related guaranteed service level measures
Each year, we require water businesses to tell us:
- how many customers they restrict
- any GSL rebates paid to hardship customers restricted in error.
We use this information to ensure we are delivering on our objectives of promoting the long term interests of consumers, including low-income and vulnerable customers.