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The Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV) complies with the National Benchmarks for Industry-Based Customer Dispute Resolution Schemes 1997. In doing so, EWOV has developed case handling policies and procedures to ensure that its service is effective and efficient. This includes ensuring that complaints are dealt with by the appropriate process.

In progressing cases, EWOV handles complaints independently and within the framework of what is fair and reasonable, what constitutes good industry practice and what lies within current laws. Appendix One elaborates further on EWOV’s independence and outlines EWOV’s fair and reasonable bubbles. Refer to EWOV's Investigated Complaint Progression Procedure for full details.


Click on the below topics for more information.

A Conciliator is assigned to each customer’s complaint and the Scheme Participant is advised that the customer has lodged a complaint.

Complaint Upgrades

EWOV may upgrade complaints in certain circumstances. The following information outlines when and why this might happen, and also provides some tips on how to avoid upgrades.

Some common reasons for upgrades

  • Response not provided by 9.00 am the following business day after a response was due.
  • Response does not provide all of the requested information
  • Response does not address the customer’s resolution sought
  • Initial response plus two further responses and further investigation is needed as responses have not resolved the complaint
  • Inappropriate suggestion/s for resolution
  • Response does not advise timeframes for re-billing, meter test, etc.

Tips to avoid upgrades

  • provide responses before the due date and time
  • provide accurate, correct and complete information
  • ensure that credit and disconnection/restriction activity and any contact ceases while EWOV investigates the complaint
  • provide appropriate and sustainable suggestions for resolution.

View EWOV’s Complaint Upgrade Policy

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  • If the customer’s complaint is not resolved following the Assisted Referral, EWOV will investigate the dispute.
  • EWOV will investigate the customer’s concerns by gathering all relevant information from both the customer and the Scheme Participant in order to reach a fair and reasonable outcome.
  • When investigating complaints, EWOV considers current legal requirements, what constitutes good industry practice and what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

Regular communication with customers and Scheme Participants

  • EWOV requires Conciliators to keep in touch with both customers and Scheme Participants on a regular basis to discuss complaint progression (at least every 14 days).
  • If you are unsure about how a complaint is progressing, please contact the Conciliator to ask for an update. If you do not receive a response, please escalate the matter to the Conciliator’s manager.
  • EWOV encourages speedy and informal processes, and aims to conduct most communication by phone. For particularly complex or protracted issues, EWOV may ask Scheme Participants for further written responses, or may provide responses to customers in writing.

Upgrades

  • EWOV’s Upgrade Policy has been developed to ensure effective and efficient complaint progression, encouraging a focus on resolution as well as timely and helpful first responses to complaints.
  • Complaints can be upgraded to the next stage if the response is late or does not assist in resolving the complaint. Similarly, where EWOV is not satisfied with the quality of a response, or does not believe the response meets the merits of the complaint, the investigation may be upgraded. Additional costs are charged to Scheme Participants where cases are upgraded.
  • For additional information please refer to the Complaint Upgrade Policy.

Independent or regulatory advice

EWOV may seek independent advice, such as technical, financial counselling or legal advice, in order to progress an investigation. EWOV may also seek advice from regulators or other relevant bodies.
Where independent or regulatory advice has an impact on the investigation, EWOV will provide a summary (either verbal or written) to the affected party in order to progress the investigation. In order to meet procedural fairness requirements, any affected party will need to have an opportunity to respond before the information will be disclosed to the other party.

Clarification meetings

  • EWOV encourages face-to-face or over-the-phone clarification meetings with Scheme Participants to discuss open complaints and take a collaborative approach to resolving matters. In addition to assisting with complaint resolution, these meetings are beneficial as they develop working relationships between EWOV and Scheme Participant contacts, as well as building EWOV’s knowledge and understanding of Scheme Participant processes, operational issues and marketing activities.

EWOV's Jurisdiction
An up-to-date version of EWOV’s Charter is available from EWOV’s website.

EWOV’s Charter provides sets out what EWOV can and can’t investigate. This section will provide details of what EWOV can and can’t investigate and the difference between a complaint being within EWOV’s jurisdiction and the complaint having merit.

  • Jurisdiction and Merit
  • An Inclusive Approach
  • What EWOV Can Investigate
  • Who Can Make Complaints and When
  • Who Can Be Complained About
  • What EWOV Can't Investigate
  • How EWOV Considers Complaints

  • The Ombudsman has the power to make a Binding Decision, up to the value of $20,000 under paragraph 6.1 of EWOV’s Charter. Where both parties consent, this financial limit may be increased up to $50,000. The financial limit only applies to Binding Decisions.
  • EWOV can investigate and conciliate complaints relating to any disputed amount. Conciliated outcomes have no financial limit.
  • Where the amount in dispute exceeds the Ombudsman’s Binding Decision financial limit, the customer may choose to either proceed with an EWOV investigation or pursue the matter in another forum. If the customer proceeds with an EWOV investigation, EWOV will ask the Scheme Participant whether it consents to the financial limit being increased to $50,000.
  • If the matter cannot be conciliated, any Binding Decision will be limited to either $20,000 (or $50,000 with the consent of both parties).
  • For more detailed information, please see the Binding Decision and Seeking Consent to a Binding Decision over $20,000 procedures as well as the Final Stage Information for Scheme Participants.

Binding Decisions Made to Date

For a list of cases that have reached a Binding Decision to date, please click here.