Following an extensive market survey and competitive tender process, Dispute Resolution Ombudsman (DRO) has been appointed as the Consumer Council for Water’s (CCW) new Adjudication provider to resolve disputes that cannot be settled via mediation.
This new arrangement forms part of the water industry’s efforts to uphold the highest standards in its complaints handling and customer satisfaction. Customers will no longer have to go to a separate adjudicator if a resolution cannot be found at an earlier stage. Mediation and final adjudication of a dispute will be managed by CCW, with independent support from the Disputes Resolution Ombudsman
DRO is an independent, not-for-profit, and government-approved service that has provided a range of services to its registered businesses and their customers for more than a third of a century, including alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and City & Guilds accredited training and advice. DRO helps to provide consumers with additional peace-of-mind and supports businesses and their customers in finding solutions when disputes occur, without the need for costly and lengthy litigation.
CCW is the voice for water consumers. One of the organisation’s priorities is to help consumers resolve complaints against their water company or retailer, and to provide free advice and support. CCW also provides a strong and influential voice for consumers by keeping a close eye on and scrutinising the performance of water companies, retailers and regulators.
Under the new arrangement, customers who have been through the water retailers’ complaints process and CCW’s mediation service, will be eligible to use the adjudication process as a means of resolving their issues, eliminating the need for court involvement. DRO will independently adjudicate disputes between consumers and their water or sewerage companies. CCW and DRO will collaborate to compile complaints data to share with the industry and key stakeholders, contributing to continuous improvement efforts and focused training through a range of accredited courses that raise industry standards.
Helen Brown, Director of Consumer Relations at CCW, commented, “We are really pleased that we can now offer this new and improved service to consumers. Having an issue with your water company or service can be frustrating enough without having a lengthy and difficult process to navigate.”
“Making the process easier and quicker will bring benefits for our customers and it will also enhance the support we can offer to people at each stage of the process. This will also enhance and strengthen CCW’s consumer advocacy role, especially for customers who are vulnerable or in vulnerable circumstances.”
CCW’s process now means that customers can benefit from the added assurance that qualifying water complaints will have a final, binding decision if necessary.
Kevin Grix, CEO and Chief Ombudsman, Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, "We are excited to embark on our journey as the new provider for CCW, offering an independent service that not only offers consumers another layer of protection, but also resolves disputes among customers, businesses, and the industry. With our solid legal foundation and decades of experience, we are well placed to support the water industry in enhancing their services and raising industry standards."
For more information, go to Dispute Resolution for the Water Industry.