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.
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 in England and Wales.
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.
For those customers requiring assistance with completing forms due to a disability (or other issue that requires additional support) we would be happy to discuss this with you and make necessary adjustments to suit your needs. We do not offer this service to every customer, you will be responsible for completing your own application form unless you can demonstrate a need for additional support.
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 but when you make your application you should think about the things you are complaining about. 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 correspondence (e.g. letters, emails) between yourself and your water company.
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.
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. 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.
If the adjudicator requires any additional information or evidence in order to make a decision in the case, WATRS will contact you.
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 four to 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 alongside 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.