The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) was established in 1998 to work independently to resolve issues and complaints relating to gas and electricity and in some cases pertaining to water. Being an independent and not-for-profit body, it neither advocates customers nor represents the industry. It is funded by its members which comprises of electricity and gas retailers and distributors. As an industry-based Ombudsman scheme, it offers a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service and ensures reasonable outcome for all parties involved in a dispute.
EWON comes to the rescue of the costumer interests in the following scenarios:
• Retailer has not responded to customer queries
• There is no satisfactory resolution of the dispute
• There is an unresolved billing issue
• Possible systemic issue for instance if there is a default in the compliance of the industry standards by the service provider.
• Need for any clarification
It gives an opportunity to both the parties in concern to reconcile the differences between themselves and if they can’t, it investigates the complaints including:
• Disputed accounts and high bills
• Connection or transfer issues
• Disconnection or restriction of supply
• Supplier actions affecting property
• Poor customer service
• Negotiated contracts
The complaints are considered on the basis of the law and what is fair and reasonable under the circumstances as well as good industry practice.
EWON runs several programs and schemes to help low income groups avail energy and spread awareness about energy consumption and bill management.
• Home Power Savings Program - A free program run by the NSW Government for low-income households which offers advice on energy efficiency and how to save money on the energy bills.
• Home Energy Saver Scheme - The program helps customers in managing their energy bills.
• No Interest Loan Schemes (NILS) – The NILS is for those low income customers who want to purchase or replace household items such as a fridge or washing machine.
EWON’s vision is to offer professional independent dispute resolution services and to help raise the service standards related to energy and water industries for the customers. It plans its activities and measures its success against six industry-standard benchmarks to ensure it meets this objective which are as follows:
Accessibility: To be approachable to all by making the process of lodging a complaint simple and easy.
Independence: Ensure the organisation's independence through its composition of consumer and industry representatives.
Fairness: Conduct its activities fairly by not advocating customers or representing industry.
Accountability: Take decisions in the wake of concerning laws and remain accountable to public for its actions and decisions.
Efficiency: Ensure timely resolution of disputes
Effectiveness: If necessary, make a binding decision to resolve a complaint.
• EWON handles complaints about the conduct of providers of energy or water services fairly, informally and expeditiously, without charge to the person making the enquiry or complaint.
• It promotes EWON to consumers and small businesses by including representatives from consumer groups and small business and all Members.
• It encourages and provides advice to Members on the development and maintenance of good complaint-handling practices to assist in the reduction and avoidance of complaints.
The decision-making process at EWON is carried out without any interference of its members and is based on what is fair and reasonable and in alignment with the jurisdiction. This is in line with its philosophy to provide fair, effective and timely resolution to customer’s complaints. EWON exercises its authority to make a binding decision in case of unresolved complaint and encourages active participation of consumer groups, industry representatives and its members to ensure transparency of its operations.
Following factors help ensure sustainability of EWON:-
• EWON is committed to highest standards of integrity and operational efficiency.
• It has adopted a new corporate governance structure in July 2012 consisting of Board and the Consultative Council to ensure compliance with legal framework.
• It works closely with stakeholders to promote best practices and reduce complaints.
• It has a strong balance sheet position and huge cash reserves.
Energy companies are required to provide an assistance program to help customers in financial difficulty. These programs can:
• protect your client from disconnection
• offer tailored payment plans based on your client’s capacity to pay and energy usage
• provide energy saving information and audits.
EWON aims to keep essential services within the reach of everyone and advocates many low cost and simple ways to lower the energy and water bills and reduce greenhouse gases.
It promotes awareness of customer assistance programs to protect customers from disconnection and help them with their payment plans, energy savings information, hardship programs, etc. The government & community organisations provide help with EAPA vouchers, financial counselling and rebates. One can contact EWON about dissatisfaction from services against any electricity or gas supplier in New South Wales and the customers are encouraged to talk to their supplier first. The customers are asked to keep copies of all correspondence they receive to back up their claims.
• Aboriginal services -
• Financial counselling -
• Legal services -
• Multicultural services -
• Tenants services -
• Welfare agencies Statistics -
New South Wales, Australia, and water customers of Sydney Water, Hunter Water, Country Water, Gosford City Council, Shoalhaven Water, State Water Corporation and Wyong Shire Council.