Yes. Before bringing a claim to WATRS, you must first complete the water company’s complaints’ process and must then refer your complaint to the Consumer Council for Water (CCW). If you remain dissatisfied at the end of the CCW process, you are eligible to bring your complaint to WATRS for a final resolution.

The easiest way to check is to find out who you pay your bills to and then to look at the list on the WATRS website under companies covered to see which category the company is in.

Whether you are a non-household or a household customer depends on the principal use of the premises to which the service is provided. Household premises are where a person has his/her home and where the principal use of the premises is as a home. A farm, for example, serves both as the farmer’s place of business and his/her home but ordinarily its primary or principal use is as a business. Contrast this with a person who works from home and uses a room in his/her house as an office – the principal use of the premises here is as a home. An easy way to check is to look at the list of companies to see whether they are a wholesaler/domestic customer supplier or a non-household retailer.

If a WATRS adjudicator agrees with your complaint, he or she can tell the water company to pay you some money as compensation, to give you an apology or an explanation, to take some action or to do something about a bill or bills. The water company will only have to do what the adjudicator says if you choose to accept the decision.

WATRS is free of charge to customers. All companies who are part of the Water Redress Scheme pay towards its cost.

You can apply to WATRS if you receive water and/or sewerage services provided by a water and/or sewerage company or licensee in England and Wales.

If you receive water and/or sewerage services in Scotland you may be able to apply to the Scottish Parliamentary Services Ombudsman (www.spso.org.uk).

You will need to fill in an application via our online portal. CCW may be able to complete this for you to commence the process. Alternatively, you can download and email/ post an application form.  When you are making your claim think about the evidence you will need to support your case – so if for example your property has been flooded and your claim is for things that have been damaged include things like photographs of the damaged items.

We cannot give you advice about what to claim for, but for those customers requiring assistance with completing our online forms due to a disability (or other issue that requires additional support) we are happy to discuss this with you and to make the necessary reasonable adjustments to help you.

If you are a household customer, unless you don’t want them to, CCW will send WATRS a copy of their file regarding your complaint – so WATRS will see what you and the company have sent to CCW. When you make your application it is very important that if you are claiming compensation you think about the things you are complaining about and how you would demonstrate to the adjudicator that you should be compensated for them. So for instance, if your property has been flooded and you want to claim for the things that have been damaged, do you have any photographs showing the damaged items, or any receipts or credit card statements showing that you bought the items? If so, send these with your application. If you are claiming about how you have been charged or how the company has treated you, you should send documents such as bills and letters, emails and texts between yourself and your water company.

If you are a non-household retail customer you may have gone through CCW in which case unless you do not want them to, CCW will send a copy of their file relating to your complaint to WATRS. If you have not gone through CCW you will need to include all relevant documents, including any contract, that you think support and prove your claim.

Yes, our website contains Guidance Notes for Customers in English and Welsh. This document will assist in your understanding of how the scheme works and the adjudication process. There are also redacted copies of adjudicator decisions available on the website under the heading Decisions.

You can also call or email our Enquires & Administration team for information or assistance. We also have a 24-hour webchat facility available to assist with any process questions you may have.

WATRS is an independent dispute resolution service. Your claim will be considered by an independent, professional and legally-qualified adjudicator.

No, you cannot claim any money from WATRS for your time or expense in completing the WATRS application form or taking your case through our adjudication process.

Both you and the water company provide information and evidence to WATRS – anything you send to WATRS will be sent to the company and anything the company sends to WATRS will be sent to you. Remember to send all documents and evidence with your application. If you are a domestic customer (or a non-domestic customer who has gone to CCW) CCW will also send anything you or the company has sent to it to WATRS. Once all the information and evidence has been sent to WATRS, this will be sent to the adjudicator who will consider all of it and make a decision – the guidance gives more details about how the process works. Very occasionally if the adjudicator requires any additional information or evidence in order to make a decision in the case, WATRS will contact you – normally the adjudicator will just use the information you supply with your application, the company sends with its response and anything sent to WATRS by CCW.

In every case, the adjudicator will look at what both you and the company have said and the evidence that has been put forward. The adjudicator will take a view as to whether or not the water company has acted reasonably. If the adjudicator finds that the water company has acted reasonably, your complaint will not be upheld. If the adjudicator finds that the water company has not acted reasonably, the adjudicator can award one or more of the remedies that you asked for on the application form, as long as you can show that you are entitled to it. Remember, if you have asked for compensation – for instance because something has been damaged or you have incurred costs – you need to provide evidence to show that it should be paid to you.

For more information, please see the case summaries and the guide to compensation for inconvenience and distress.

The vast majority of cases are resolved within six weeks of an application to WATRS.

When the adjudicator has made a decision it is sent to both you and the company – you then have 20 working days to tell us if you accept or reject it. If you accept the decision, the water company will have to do what the adjudicator has told them to do. If you reject the decision, or if you do not respond within 20 working days, the adjudicator’s decision will have no effect and the water company will not have to do anything.

If you are unhappy with the adjudicator’s decision you may reject it. WATRS does not consider appeals, and your only other option is to go to court (or in some cases, such as in metering disputes, to an arbitrator).

No, you can only accept the decision in full or reject it in full. If you decide not to accept the decision it will have no effect. There is no appeals mechanism.

Each case is considered on its own merits and evidence. Whilst circumstances may be similar, this does not mean outcomes will be identical.

Yes. WATRS can accept an application which concerns charges applied by a water company for water and/or sewerage services. Remember you will need to send in documents such as bills, letters and emails you have had with the company to show why you think you have been charged incorrectly.

WATRS cannot make a company decrease its charges or change its tariffs if they have been set properly but WATRS look at how the company increased its charges and how it has dealt with you – what customer service you received. You will need to provide supporting evidence with your application, such as bills, letters and emails with the company which show charges have increased and evidence that supports your view that the charges should not have been increased.

Yes. WATRS can consider applications which relate to the manner in which the company handled your complaint. You will need to provide evidence such as letters, emails, bills and notes of telephone calls about the leakage and how the company dealt with you – if you have had to use a plumber or someone to investigate and repair the leak think about getting a letter, statement or report from them setting out what they found and when.

Generally no – companies are not required to tell you how you can save money – but WATRS can look at the customer service you received as well as disputes concerning payments made to a company or charges applied by a company.

Generally no – companies are not required to tell you how you can save money – but WATRS can look at the customer service you received as well as how charges have been applied by a company.

No, only non-household customers with business premises in England can choose their water supplier. Information and guidance about switching can be found at: www.ofwat.gov.uk/regulated-companies/markets/business-retail-market/who-is-eligible

Different rules apply in Wales: www.dwrcymru.com/en/Openwater/FAQ.aspx

It is the name of the industry-wide programme for the introduction of competition in the non-household market. If you are a non-household customer in England you can choose your water supplier. Different rules apply to customers whose premises are supplied by Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. For more information see: www.dwrcymru.com/en/Openwater/FAQ.aspx

WATRS can look at disputes between you and the company that you pay your bills to (your supplier) to see what level of customer service you have been provided with but WATRS cannot make another company (the wholesaler) provide a service – so if for example you are waiting for a new connection and that connection can only be made by the wholesale company WATRS will not be able to tell the wholesale company to make the connection but they will be able to look at the customer service you have been provided with by your supplier.

Eligible businesses, charities and public sector customers are no longer restricted to buying retail water services from their regional water company – instead they are free to choose a retail supplier.

A water wholesaler (generally the incumbent regional water company) is the company responsible for supplying water to customers’ premises and removing waste water from them. A non-household retailer is responsible for customer facing services such as billing.

Yes, we are registered under the Data Protection Act 2018.

When you apply for adjudication, we need to know your name, address, e-mail address and details of the matters in dispute. We also ask for your telephone number to enable us to contact you if there are any problems. The information collected is used only to allow us to process your application. The information WILL NOT be used to send you any marketing material for other CEDR Services. When you apply for adjudication, secure server software (SSL) encrypts all information you input before it is sent to us. Furthermore, as required by the UK Data Protection regulations, we follow strict security procedures in the storage and disclosure of the information that you have given us, to prevent unauthorised access.

We do not sell, trade or rent your personal information to others. The only people with access to your information will be CEDR staff, the water supplier or provider and the Adjudicator. We may produce aggregate statistics about applications under CEDR for public consumption but these statistics will include no personally identifying information.

If you want to complain about CEDR please read our Complaints Procedure document. Once you have read the Complaints Procedure and you want to submit your complaint, please use our Complaints Form, which you can download below. 

Complaints Procedure

Complaint Form

Independent Reviewers Terms of Reference

Complaint Overview

The customer said that the company had failed to install a water meter after agreeing to do so. The customer also stated that the company failed to respond to communications and was untruthful.

The company stated that the customer's account was subject to a County Court Judgment (CCJ) in respect of unpaid charges. The customer's complaint about the water meter formed the basis of an application to court made by the customer to set aside the CCJ. The application was reviewed and dismissed by a District Judge.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

WATRS cannot be used to adjudicate any disputes which have previously been to court. As a court had already ruled on the charges on the customer's account, this aspect of the customer's claim and the customer's complaints about the CCJ could not be considered.

However, the adjudicator found that the company failed to respond to the customer's emails within a reasonable timeframe.

Remedy Awarded

A written apology

Complaint Overview

The customer said that the company had failed to install a water meter after agreeing to do so. The customer also stated that the company failed to respond to communications and was untruthful.

The company stated that the customer's account was subject to a County Court Judgment (CCJ) in respect of unpaid charges. The customer's complaint about the water meter formed the basis of an application to court made by the customer to set aside the CCJ. The application was reviewed and dismissed by a District Judge.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

WATRS cannot be used to adjudicate any disputes which have previously been to court. As a court had already ruled on the charges on the customer's account, this aspect of the customer's claim and the customer's complaints about the CCJ could not be considered.

However, the adjudicator found that the company failed to respond to the customer's emails within a reasonable timeframe.

Remedy Awarded

A written apology

Complaint Overview

The customer asserted that the company was charging him incorrectly, that it gave incorrect advice causing him to incur plumber costs and that works it had carried out had damaged his property. He sought an apology and compensation of £1,714.26.

The company said that it had charged the customer correctly and that it gave him correct advice. It denied responsibility for any damage or poor workmanship.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator found that the company was charging the customer correctly and that it had given him correct advice. However, the works were carried out poorly which did cause minor damage to the customer's property and caused him to incur costs. The adjudicator considered it fair that the customer be reimbursed for the costs incurred and a further sum was given for the stress and inconvenience he suffered. The majority of the sum claimed by the customer was not awarded as it related to alleged overpayments that had not been proven.

Remedy Awarded

  • £300.00
  • A written apology

Complaint Overview

The customer stated that he had requested a water meter in 2008 and 2013 but one had not been provided. A meter was finally installed in 2015, which reduced his water bill. He therefore sought to be compensated for paying more than necessary since 2008.

The company said that the customer did not complete a request for a meter until January 2015 and one was fitted in February 2015. The company said it had no obligation to reduce the customer's charges prior to the fitting of the water meter.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take further action.

The adjudicator found that there was no evidence that the customer had made a request for a water meter until January 2015. The customer had not proven any failing on the part of the company.

Remedy Awarded

None.

Complaint Overview

The customer submitted that her business and domestic premises were subject to an internal sewage leak, due to a sewerage flooding from a public sewer. The customer stated that the company was liable to pay her £3383.00 compensation for the damaged caused to her property as a result of the flooding. She further submitted that the company had failed to pay her any of the amounts agreed and it had delayed dealing with her case.

The company submitted that the customer's property was internally flooded due to factors beyond its control and was therefore not liable for any resulting damage. It highlighted that it had paid the customer the agreed amounts in compensation.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The company was aware of the risk of sewerage leaks due to the factors beyond its control and there was a lack of evidence that it took sufficient measures to mitigate the risk of flooding as a result of these issues. The adjudicator also found the company delayed in handling the customer's claim and failed to prove it had made payment to the customer for the amounts agreed.

Remedy Awarded

£1540.00 compensation and a written apology.

Complaint Overview

The customer submitted that the company: failed to return £195.68 due to him; cancelled his Direct Debit multiple times; failed to abide by the terms of the Direct Debit guarantee; incorrectly placed non-payment marks on his credit file; chased him for payment by threatening him with debt collection agencies and county court judgments; and, sent him letters quoting untrue or misleading facts.

The company denied that it was responsible for the customer's Direct Debits failing and that it did not abide by the terms of the Direct Debit guarantee. It stated the customer could have requested the £195.68 due to him at any time. It submitted that it followed its debt recovery process correctly and correctly notified the credit reference agency of overdue payments. The company denied providing untrue or misleading facts but accepted that some information given by one of its agents was not strictly true.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The company failed to provide its services to the customer to the standard reasonable expected in relation to: the sum of money due back to the customer; its failure to fully explain why the Direct Debits had failed; and, for providing incorrect, misleading and/or insufficient information in its correspondence to the customer.

Remedy Awarded

Assist the customer is setting up a new Direct Debit by closing his account and opening a new one; remove the negative markers on the customer's credit file; and £200.00 compensation

Complaint Overview

The customer stated that he had been given a rebate in 2017, because more than 10% of metered water supplied does not return to the sewer, but the company refused to backdate this. The customer maintained the circumstances of the property had remained unchanged since 2005 and that he was unaware he could make such a claim until 2016.

The company submitted that it is its policy not to backdate abated payments. It further stated that the customer was on notice of his potential entitlement at all times, due to the information being available on his bills, in literature given and on the company's website.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take any further action.

The adjudicator found there was no evidence that the company had acted otherwise than in accordance with its policy. The company had also taken reasonable steps to alert the customer to his potential entitlement. It had therefore acted in accordance with the service standards to be reasonably expected.

Remedy Awarded

None.

Complaint Overview

The customer noticed a prominent increase in their water bills and usage and so reported a suspected leak in November 2014. The customer stated it took the company until September 2016 to identify the source of the problem and should have provided better advice and assistance. They stated that had this been done, wasted water costs totalling £16880.00 would have been saved - the customer claimed this amount.

The company acknowledged that the matter took some time to resolve but stated that this was due to the leak being on private pipework and difficult to locate. It submitted that the customer had responsibility for the leak but despite this, as a goodwill gesture, the company repaired the leak. Further, an 'out of policy' waste water allowance was allocated to the customer's account.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take any further action.

The adjudicator found that the company properly discharged its duties owed to the customer and the company had no obligation to provide more assistance than it did.

Remedy Awarded

None.

Complaint Overview

The customer submitted that he should have the right to choose to be billed by Rateable Value (RV) if he felt it more beneficial. The company had declined his request, stating that the property had been metered since 1999 and so no right existed. The customer requested that the company be obligated to charge him on an unmeasured or fixed basis.

The company stated that there was no legal basis for the customer to have requested this and that it had fully complied with the relevant legislation when installing the property's meter.

Outcome and Reasons

The company was not required to take any further action.

The adjudicator found that there was no legal basis for the customer to be allowed to choose to be billed by RV. The company had not failed to provide its services to the standard to be reasonably expected.

Remedy Awarded

None.

Complaint Overview

During the process of fitting a smart meter in the customer's home, it was discovered that an existing meter was already fitted to his private supply, and had been there since 1986. This meter was subsequently removed. The customer stated that had he known that the removed meter was connected to his private supply, he may have benefited by way of savings to his water services charges dating back to 1986. The customer sought £1423.54 in this respect.

The company submitted that it should have no obligation to pay compensation as the removed meter was for the company's monitoring purposes only and not for any billing or revenue-related purposes. The company stated that the customer had not lost any opportunity to make savings on his water charges.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take any further action.

The adjudicator found that the removed meter was fitted and used for monitoring purposes only, such that the company had no obligation to tell the customer.

Remedy Awarded

None.

Complaint Overview

The customer stated that, when installing a new public sewer in his village, the company: instigated an illegal road closure; delayed completing the works; knowingly used a faulty product; failed to keep residents updated; and provided inaccurate and/or inconsistent information.

The company denied all allegations. It further stated that it was for the Environmental Agency to determine whether there was any error on the company's part in regards to the time taken to complete the new sewer and for the Highways Authority to determine if it committed an offence with the road closure.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The customer's allegations regarding the illegal road closure and delay in completing the works fell outside the scope of the Scheme. The adjudicator found that there was no evidence to show that fault equipment was used or that incorrect information was provided, but there was evidence that the company had failed to keep residents updated.

Remedy Awarded

£75.00 compensation and a written apology.

Complaint Overview

The customer stated that the company had wrongly charged him for surface water drainage since 2007 and had only backdated payments to 1 April 2014. The customer claimed a refund of these payments from February 2007, amounting to £1081.81, an apology, £250.00 compensation and interest at 8% per annum.

The company submitted it was not liable to refund payments made before 1 April 2014 - the customer applied for a rebate in November 2017 and it applied its Scheme of Charges and policies correctly.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take any further action.

The company acted in accordance with its legal obligations and its Scheme of Charges. The adjudicator found it had supplied its services to the standard to be reasonably expected.

Remedy Awarded

None.

Complaint Overview

The customer's representative was the landlord of the customer. The customer suffered from schizophrenia. The landlord submitted that the company did not attempt to contact her about a leak to the shared water supply and submitted that as a result she was unaware of the leak and unable to make repairs. She further stated that the customer's neighbour's share of the bill had been waived but not the customer's - she claimed this to be unfair and discrimination. It was requested that the bill be reduced to zero, £200.00 compensation be awarded and that the company alter its process to knock on doors to advise of leaks, ensuring customers understand the situation.

The company stated it sent letters to the account holders of the relevant properties, advising of the leak. The customer did not respond and did not contact his landlord. It detailed that after issuing a s75 notice, it completed the repair work and charged the relevant customers. The company stated it was not aware the customer was vulnerable and the landlord was not added as a third party on the account until January 2018.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take any further action.

The company were not aware the customer was vulnerable until after the leak had been repaired. The company therefore followed an appropriate process in relation to the leak.

Remedy Awarded

None.

Complaint Overview

The customer submitted that significant water services charges were accrued on their property account as the account details were never updated from the previous owner. The customer stated that because of this they did not receive any invoices and did not pay any water services charges. They stated that this was the fault of the company's predecessor, and to some extent the company, and so claimed a service reduction of approximately £6000.00.

The company accepted that it initially incorrectly advised the customer when the issue of updating the account details was brought to its attention. However, it maintained that it was not responsible for the customer's dealings with its predecessor, who it had nevertheless chased on the customer's behalf. The company had offered the customer £250.00 compensation in recognition of the oversight on its part.

Outcome and Reasons

The company needed to take further action.

The adjudicator agreed that the company advising incorrectly was a failure to provide the company's services to the standard reasonably expected. However, the company was found to have adequately chased its predecessor, and so no further breaches were found.

Remedy Awarded

£250.00 compensation and an apology.

Complaint Overview

The customer stated that the company had not reimbursed him the repair costs of his water softener, which he claimed was damaged by chlorine added by the company. He requested this cost of £500.00. Further, he claimed that he did not know of the availability of a reduced tariff and so did not apply for this until August 2017. He submitted the company had unreasonably refused to backdate his eligibility for this tariff and requested this be directed.

The company stated it was not responsible for the damage to his water softener. It submitted that it applies a reduced tariff from the date of application only and does not backdate eligibility before the receipt of the application.

Outcome and Reasons

The company did not need to take any further action.

The customer had not proved that the company damaged his water softener by adding chlorine to the water. The adjudicator found that the company had acted in accordance with its own policies in applying the reduced tariff and provided adequate information regarding the availability of this tariff. The customer did not show that the company failed to supply its services to the standard that would reasonably be expected.

Remedy Awarded

None.

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