icon-water Water Retail Code - minor and intermediate retailers

  • Project Released: 02 May 2014
  • Project Closes: 11 Mar 2015
  • Contact: Kate Morrison

Overview

The Commission has determined that it is appropriate to consider further reform of the Water Retail Code for minor and intermediate retailers in the areas of customer contracts and customer charters. Customer contracts govern the provision of retail services to customers and customer charters are the means by which retailers provide information to customers regarding their rights and obligations in respect of the retail service they receive.

Status

Current status is Final

  • Draft
  • Submissions
  • Final

Final

The Water Retail Code for minor and intermediate retailers (the Code) is the principal consumer protection document setting out the behavioural standards and minimum requirements to be complied with by minor and intermediate retailers (M&I retailers) when dealing with their customers.

To date, the implementation of contracts that govern the provision of retail services to customers (standard contracts) and customer charters (which are to provide information to customers regarding their rights and obligations in respect of the supply of a retail service) under the Code has been slow. Therefore, the Commission has determined that it is appropriate to consider further reform of the Code in those areas, to assist retailers and thereby ensure that their customers receive the benefit of these key consumer protections.

It is proposed that the Code be amended to include model standard contracts and model customer charters. Standardisation will aid consumers and assist retailers in delivering their consumer protection obligations. Those model documents are to be adopted by M&I retailers for all of their customers or, where relevant, for particular customer classes. Where existing contracts are in place, those arrangements will continue until terminated, at which time a model standard contract will apply.

Acknowledging that there is a suite of retail services that an individual retailer may provide (e.g. drinking water, recycled water or sewerage), the proposed model standard contracts will allow for provisions relating to specific services to be included. In recognition of the fact that some M&I retailers may wish to further modify certain aspects of the model standard contracts or customer charters to reflect certain aspects of any unique retail services they provide, a Commission-approved mechanism for variation is also proposed.  Under that scheme, any proposed amendments would need to be clearly marked, explained and justified and submitted to the Commission for approval, prior to being adopted or utilised.

It is noted that local government retailers can rely on rating provisions under local government legislation and need not use contracts. Nevertheless, not all local government retailers may wish to continue that practice and these rating provisions do not apply to other retailers. For those retailers, it is important that standard customer contracts are in place, and for all retailers it is important that customer charters are in place, as soon as possible and through a simple process.

The Commission is seeking submissions on the proposed amendments to the Code as set out in the draft decision and the draft model standard contracts and customer charters by 30 June 2014.

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