Frequently Asked Questions
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 (CCWater). If you remain dissatisfied at the end of the CCWater 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 here 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.
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 form - we can send you one or you can download one from the WATRS website. You need to send the completed form and your evidence to us. 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 – see question  for further information.
We cannot give you advice about what to claim for, but for those customers requiring assistance with completing forms due to a disability (or other issue that requires additional support) we are happy to discuss this with you and to make necessary adjustments to help you. You will be responsible for completing your own application form unless you can demonstrate a need for additional support.
If you are a household customer, unless you don't want them to, CCWater will send WATRS a copy of their file regarding your complaint - so WATRS will see what you and the company have sent to CCWater. 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 CCWater in which case unless you do not want them to, CCWater will send a copy of their file relating to your complaint to WATRS. If you have not gone through CCWater you will need to include all relevant documents, including any contract, that you think support and prove your claim.
Yes, our website contains information and guidance about how the Scheme works, and useful guidance documents to help you understand more about the adjudication process and what you can expect. There are case summaries available to give you an idea of the type of complaints the Scheme deals with and the sort of outcomes you can expect - but remember every case is looked at on its own merits. There are also redacted copies of adjudicators’ decisions available on the Resolving Water Disputes website.
You can also call or email our team of case handlers for information and assistance.
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 CCWater) CCWater 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 CCWater.
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.
Generally no, disputes regarding eligibility to switch are dealt with by Ofwat: www.ofwat.gov.uk/regulated-companies/markets/business-retail-market/who-is-eligible
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.