Business customer charter 2015/16. falling prices, improving service

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1 Business customer charter 2015/16 falling prices, improving service

2 Contents 2 Water charges for 2015/16 4 New connections Business customer deposits 5 Ways to pay 6 Rented properties 7 Service standards and compensation 13 Water quality 15 Water fittings regulations 16 Leaks 18 Further information Definition of a business customer 19 Regulation of our service 20 Other relevant organisations 21 Table of service standards, compensation and penalties Remember, the quickest and easiest way to find out about our services and how we can help you is to visit our website

3 Delivering more for less Dear customer Last year we froze our prices; this year (April 2015 to March 2016) we ve reduced our prices, with the average non-household bill now lower than last year. And for the next four years, we propose to keep bills down through lower than inflation increases. There are some changes to the tariff structure which mean that not all customers will see the same price decrease. However, no customer s bill will increase if the same amount of water is used. We hope you ll feel that this is good news, especially as the fall in prices goes hand-in-hand with improvements in service and continued investment in our plant and network. This means that you can be assured that we ll continue to provide you, at a fair price, with a safe, wholesome water supply that you can rely on always. This satisfies the main priorities that customers have been telling us, namely ensuring a safe and reliable water supply well into the future, and helps address current issues around affordability. We ve also committed to act on other customer priorities such as fixing visible leaks quickly, and reducing leakage from our network and the amount of energy we use in our operation. Our programme of improvement, although gradual, has quantifiable targets against which we ll be measured, and defined penalties for failure to meet them. Therefore we believe that our interests, and those of our customers, are aligned. We ve spent much of this past year in preparing to meet the requirements of the opening of the non-household retail market in We want to ensure that you, our business customers, no matter how big or small, continue to receive the highest levels of service and the services you value most that if given the choice of retailer right now, you d choose to be served by us. Therefore we value your feedback and wish to continue the dialogue we ve enjoyed through the platforms we ve put in place and our customer challenge group. In this charter we cover our water charges, set out the standards of service we must provide (and the compensation we pay if we fail to meet them), and provide information about key aspects of our service. I hope you find it useful. Bob Taylor Managing Director

4 Water charges for 2015/16 The prices we charge for your water supply are set every five years. We ve recently agreed our prices for the period 2015 to 2020 with Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water industry. Following last year s price freeze, we ve reduced our prices this year April 2015 to March In setting our prices, we considered the current economic climate and the investment we need to: Maintain our plant and pipe network, Improve our service in areas that customers have identified as priority, and Further reduce the risk of large-scale service disruption. We also have plans in place to improve our efficiency in specific areas, for example, in the way we use electricity in the operation of our plant, thereby further reducing our costs. Water charges We ve simplified the structure of our charges. These are now based on usage, rather than on meter size, as shown in the table below. We ve also removed the seasonal tariff and the additional standing charge related to what was formerly known as the large user tariff. However, on a like for like basis, your bill this year will be less than last year. m 3 pa Standing charge Water charge >750-2, >2,000-4, >4,000-10, >10,000-50,000 1, >50,000 14, Business customer charter 2015/16

5 Small business with a metered supply using 100 cubic metres Standing charge per year Water usage charge (100 cubic metres x ) (100 cubic metres x ) 2014/ / Total charge Business with a metered supply using 6,000 cubic metres 2014/ /16 Standing charge per year Water usage charge (6,000 cubic metres x ) (6,000 cubic metres x ) , , Total charge 7, , Large business with a metered supply using 26,000 cubic metres (former large user tariff) Standing charge per year Water usage charge (peak period June-Aug) (6,750 cubic metres x ) Water usage charge (off-peak period) (19,250 cubic metres x ) Water usage charge (26,000 cubic metres x ) Additional standing charge 2014/ / , , , , , Total charge 30, , Further details of our current charges are in the 'Water charges' booklet, which is updated each year. In addition, we have standard tariffs for: Connecting new properties to the mains Disconnecting and re-connecting existing properties to the mains Business customer charter 2015/16 3

6 New connections There s a charge for connecting new premises to the mains. For more information, please see the 'Developers' section of our website which contains our 'New connections information book' and 'New connections application form', as well as other supporting documentation to help you through the process of getting connected. You can also download our 'Water charges' booklet and the new connections information from our website, or ask for a copy by calling Customer Service on Business customer deposits We don t normally need a deposit for business accounts. Occasionally, however, we may ask for one if we have reason to believe that there could be a risk of non-payment. The deposit amount is equivalent to the charge for around six months water use (based on previous use at the premises). It s held separately to the water account and interest is not payable. A deposit can t be used to pay a water bill unless you ve been disconnected for non-payment or the business has become insolvent. If you ve been disconnected and the deposit has been used to pay the bill, you ll need to restore the deposit in full before we reconnect the water supply. If you purchase a business with existing water debt, you ll be required to either take responsibility for the balance as a going concern or a deposit will be payable immediately. 4 Business customer charter 2015/16

7 Ways to pay You can pay monthly by Direct Debit. Alternatively, you can use one of these methods to pay your bill in full when you receive it. BillPay (internet) Your bank Any branch of Lloyds bank At a Post Office By post to us Internet banking Phone banking by calling Please see your bill for more information, including our banking details to pay by funds transfer (BACS). We are currently implementing a new customer relationship management and billing system which will allow for online billing, payment and account management. Further details will be provided later this year. Payment charges You ll be charged if a Direct Debit claim is returned unpaid. There s a charge for paying at a Post Office. Having difficulty paying? If you re having difficulty paying your bills, please contact us as soon as possible we may be able to help. If you don t pay your water bills, we have the right to cut off your water supply as a last resort. Business customer charter 2015/16 5

8 Rented properties If the landlord or agent fails to inform us within 14 calendar days of a tenancy change and we re unable to recover the debt owed by the tenant, we may pursue the landlord or agent for payment. A tenancy change is where: A current tenant leaves, A change of tenant takes place, or A new tenant occupies a previously empty property. This could mean that we pursue a debt for more than one tenant at the same property. Landlord Tap is an easy to use website that allows Landlords and Managing Agents of properties in England and Wales to provide water companies with details of those responsible for the payment of water and/or sewerage charges for their tenanted properties. Instead of calling or writing to us, once you ve registered, you may use the forms on the website to provide the required information. This information is then passed to us automatically, and you ll receive a unique transaction receipt reference for your records. Once registered, this website allows you to inform us when: You add new properties to your portfolio There are any changes to tenant details, including changes of tenancy A property becomes empty You sell or stop managing the property The website can be accessed at 6 Business customer charter 2015/16

9 Service standards and compensation Service standards and compensation payments are legal requirements under the Guaranteed Standards Scheme Regulations, which are enforced by Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water industry. We ve set extra service standards for ourselves and have enhanced our compensation levels for business customers. We ll compensate you if we fail to meet any of the service standards set by Ofwat, or the extra standards we ve set ourselves. Service standards apply to all areas of our business, for example: Answering your enquiries Keeping appointments Maintaining the water pressure Meeting the requirements for water quality Compensation and how we pay it Compensation payments vary for different service standard failures. Our payments are equal to or higher than those required by law. Most compensation payments are automatically credited to your water account. However, there are some you have to claim by calling Customer Service. Please see the table at the back of this booklet for details. Penalties If we don t credit your account with a compensation payment within the required time, we have to pay you a penalty. This payment is automatically credited to your water account. Guide to compensation and penalty payments For a full guide to service standards, compensation payments and penalties, please see the table at the back of this booklet. Business customer charter 2015/16 7

10 Customer service standards We pay 50 if we fail to: Answer your written enquiries within ten working days Explain why we couldn t set up a new payment method which you asked for, within five working days Refund you for an incorrect Direct Debit payment within ten working days (where you ve not already received a refund from your bank) We pay a flat rate of 100 compensation if we have a record of correspondence from you, but fail to act on it and incorrectly pursue a court claim and/or enter a County Court Judgment against you. We ll also ensure that details of the claim or Judgment entered in error are deleted from the court record. Complaints Sometimes we may fail to meet your expectations. If you have a complaint, please call our Customer Service team on in the first instance. We have a code of practice for dealing with complaints which is set out in our booklet 'How we handle customer complaints code of practice'. If you d like a copy, please look under 'Publications' on our website or call us. If you ve raised a complaint with us and are dissatisfied with the response, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) can investigate. At any stage of your complaint or enquiry, you can contact them for free and independent advice. Tel Website Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme (ADR) A new Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme (ADR) was introduced by the water industry in April The Scheme is administered by IDRS Limited, the consumer services unit of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), a non-profit body that is independent of the water industry. The Scheme provides an independent process for adjudicating unresolved disputes between water companies and their customers. 8 Business customer charter 2015/16

11 If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of both our response and the Consumer Council for Water s response to your complaint, you can apply for your case to be adjudicated by the Scheme. Full details of the Scheme are in our booklet 'How we handle customer complaints code of practice'. If you d like a copy, please look under 'Publications' on our website or call us. If you send us a written complaint (by letter or ), we ll give you a full reply within ten working days. If we fail to do this, we'll pay you 50. Appointments If you ask us to visit, we ll offer you a morning or an afternoon appointment on the day we agree with you. If this doesn t suit you and you need a more specific time, we ll offer you a two-hour time slot. We pay 50 if we fail to: Offer you a morning or afternoon appointment, or a two-hour time slot Call within the time we agreed Give you 24 hours notice if we need to cancel (unless severe weather, strike action or some other unforeseen event is the cause) Meter readings Readings We pay 50 compensation if we fail to: Read your meter on the day you move out of your premises, provided you ve given us four working days notice and we can get access to the meter. (You can inform us by letter, or over the phone.) Read your meter at least once a year provided we can get access to it If you use more than 10,000 cubic metres of water a year through a single connection, we ll read your meter or meters each month. Business customer charter 2015/16 9

12 Accuracy If you think there s a problem with your meter, we ll have it independently tested and, if it isn t accurate, we ll install a new one free of charge. But if we remove a meter, have it tested and find that it s working to the EU Measured Instruments Directive (MID) 2004/22/EC, we ll charge you for the test. The fee is listed in our 'Water charges' booklet. Entering your premises Under the Water Industry Act 1991, certain company employees can enter premises that are, or will be, supplied with water by us. Our employees have the right to: Examine fittings and check whether there s waste, misuse or contamination Monitor the quality of the water Take meter readings Supply interruptions We sometimes have to stop your water supply while we carry out essential maintenance or repair work. Planned interruptions large users If you use more than 10,000 cubic metres of water a year at a single premises, you re a 'large user'. (This is based on the amount of water used in the previous calendar year.) We pay 500 compensation if we fail to: Contact you by phone or in person before a planned interruption, to discuss how it will affect your business and to see if we can help by rearranging the work or by providing another supply, and Give you seven days notice in writing before the interruption, confirming the times of the interruption and how long it will last. If the interruption is longer than planned, we pay Business customer charter 2015/16

13 Planned interruptions other users If you use less than 10,000 cubic metres of water a year at a single premises, we pay 50 if we fail to: Give five days notice in writing of planned interruptions that may last longer than an hour Take account of your individual needs to reduce any disruption to you. We prioritise the needs of schools, care homes, doctors, dentists, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants and similar premises We pay 50 compensation if the interruption lasts longer than stated in our notice. Emergency interruptions If we have to interrupt your supply, we pay 50 compensation if we can t restore it within: 24 hours if on a strategic main, or 12 hours in any other emergency We pay 50 compensation for every additional 24-hour period that you are without water. Repeated interruptions If you re affected by at least three unplanned interruptions lasting more than 15 hours in total over a 12-month period, we pay 50 compensation. Working in your street Before we carry out work outside your premises, we ll discuss any potential problems with you, such as pedestrian or vehicle access. If we fail to do this and you experience any access difficulties, you can claim a payment of 50. We aim to cause as little disruption as possible. If you want us to rearrange work (other than emergencies) for 'out of hours', we may be able to help, but we may have to charge you a fee to cover the higher costs involved. Business customer charter 2015/16 11

14 Water pressure The minimum standard for pressure We must supply a pressure of no less than ten metres head (1 bar). This is the height water would reach in a vertical pipe. This pressure level applies at the communication pipe* supplying your property, for a flow of nine litres a minute inside the property. For many businesses, we ll have installed a service and meter to provide higher flows than this minimum standard. Compensation for poor pressure You should contact us if you feel you re experiencing poor water pressure. You can claim a compensation payment of 50 if: You complain to us about poor water pressure and we don t visit you within three working days of receiving your complaint The pressure in your communication pipe* falls below seven metres head for one hour or more, twice in a 28-day period Change in pressure large users If you use more than 10,000 cubic metres of water a year, we ll contact you to discuss how your business might be affected before we make any permanent changes that may materially affect the water pressure. * The communication pipe runs from our main to your boundary stop tap. 12 Business customer charter 2015/16

15 Water quality Standards The water we provide is of a very high quality. Every day we test water leaving our water treatment works, storage reservoirs and at randomly selected customer taps for compliance with the standards set in the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations. In addition, we undertake several thousand operational tests each year to ensure raw water quality is satisfactory and our treatment processes are efficient. This rigorous sampling and analysis is overseen by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). In 2014, 99.99% of all tests carried out met the required standards. And where the standards were not met, there was no risk to health because of wide margins of safety built into them. We report every compliance result to the DWI and publish an annual summary on our website of all the results of samples taken under the regulations by area or postcode. Water quality failures If we have any concerns about the quality of drinking water we supply, we ll contact you. Discoloured water The water we supply should be clear and free from substances which cause discolouration. If it isn t, we make a payment of 10 provided the discolouration: Comes from our system and not from your supply pipe or plumbing Is visibly unacceptable and not just on a temporary basis Is not caused by air in the supply If your water is discoloured after work has been carried out on or near your supply, we ll ask you to run cold water to clear it. We ll credit your account with the cost of any additional water used to do this. Business customer charter 2015/16 13

16 Sampling your water If you have any concerns about the quality of the water, please contact us. We ll do the following: During working hours, we ll normally call you back within two hours, provided we have your contact details, if we aren t able to deal with the matter immediately. If required, we ll arrange to take a sample of the water supply from your tap on an agreed day with a morning or afternoon appointment. We ll contact you with any abnormal results within 24 hours of receiving them from our laboratory and we ll confirm all results in writing within a further five working days. It may take up to 14 days from the date of the sample for some test results to be produced. If we fail to meet these standards, we ll automatically pay 50 compensation. If you re concerned about lead pipes on your premises, we ll sample the water and test for lead free of charge. Water quality records If you d like to see the annual summary of all the sample results taken under the regulations, please visit our website. You can select the results for your area by map or postcode. You may request a copy of these records free of charge for the water supply zone where your business premises is located. If you request information for a wider area, there may be a charge. We must provide you with this information within seven days of receiving your request. 14 Business customer charter 2015/16

17 Water fittings regulations Your water fittings Regulations govern the standards of pipework and water fittings used in properties. They are intended to: protect your water supply from being contaminated as a result of substandard or incorrect installation; avoid waste; and ensure proper standards of plumbing are achieved. Prior notice must be given for a range of works which are specified under Regulation 5 of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations This includes: new buildings; garden irrigation systems; extensions or alterations to commercial premises; and various other types of work or installations that could present a contamination risk or otherwise have an adverse effect on the supply. The following documents may be helpful and are available under 'Publications' on our website or from our Customer Service team: Notification of proposed plumbing works (application form included) New connections information book Always employ plumbers approved by WaterSafe, the umbrella body which brings together registered plumbing businesses from the seven Approved Contractors Schemes Lead pipes Lead was used as a pipe material many years ago in some parts of the country. The use of lead pipes is very uncommon in our area. However, if we become aware that the pipe supplying your property is made of lead, we ll let you know. It s possible, although unlikely, that both the part of the pipe belonging to us (the communication pipe) and the part belonging to you (the supply pipe*) are made of lead. We ll replace any lead pipe of ours and may be able to help with the cost of replacing your underground lead supply pipe. * The supply pipe runs from the boundary stop tap to your internal stop tap. Business customer charter 2015/16 15

18 Electrical earthing Safe earthing of electrical appliances on your premises is your responsibility and your water supply pipe should not be used for earthing your electrical installation. Please ask your electricity supply company or an approved electrician for advice on electrical earthing. Leaks It s important to fix leaks quickly. If you see a leak in the street or your outdoor space, please call our Freephone leakline on Wasting water A quick repair prevents water being wasted and reduces the risk of a leak contaminating the public water supply. If a leak on your property is left unrepaired, we can issue a waste water notice requiring you to repair it. We have legal powers to turn off the water supply until the leak is fixed, or to enter your property, repair the leak and recover the costs. Underground supply pipe leaks If you think there s a leak on your supply pipe, we ll help you try to find it by providing up to three hours free leakage detection service. For more details, please see our booklet 'Code of practice on leakage for business and commercial customers'. Detecting leaks in your system Subject to survey, we can install a data logger on your meter. This will record the amount of water flowing through the meter into your premises every 15 minutes. It can provide important information on your usage, and help to identify any leakage or wastage. Please contact us for details of the cost and availability of this service. 16 Business customer charter 2015/16

19 Leak repairs For all plumbing work, we recommend you use plumbers approved by WaterSafe, the umbrella body bringing together the seven Approved Contractors Schemes Leak allowance You may be entitled to a one-off allowance on your bill to compensate you for the water wasted by a supply pipe leak. To be eligible for a leak allowance, you must: 1. Contact us within 10 days of receiving our letter alerting you to a potential leak on your premises, and 2. Have the leak repaired within 28 days of us confirming it. If you meet both conditions, you can apply for a leak allowance within 15 days of the repair by calling Customer Service or writing to us. We will write to you to inform you of the allowance. The allowance is only for water lost from an underground supply pipe leak. We won t consider an allowance if: You (or your contractor) take longer than 28 days to repair the leak The leak was due to negligence whether yours, the property owner responsible for the supply pipe, or anyone working for you/them You should ve known there was a leak and didn t repair it The leak was caused by faulty internal plumbing Property flooding If your property is damaged inside due to flooding caused by a leak from our water mains, we ll pay the costs of cleaning up and of any repairs to the building. We ll also pay 100 for the inconvenience. Business customer charter 2015/16 17

20 Further information You may find the following booklets helpful. You can request them by calling us or downloading them from the 'Publications' section of our website. Code of practice on leakage for business and commercial customers How we handle customer complaints code of practice Water charges New connections information book Your water company (a guide for household customers) Definition of a business customer All non-household customers are business customers. You re a business customer if your premises are completely or partially used for any of these purposes: Commercial Industrial Agricultural Educational Medical and healthcare Religious Charitable Please contact us if you re not sure whether you re a business or household customer. 18 Business customer charter 2015/16

21 Regulation of our service Type of regulation Economic Environmental Water quality Consumer protection Governmental Body Water Services Regulatory Authority (Ofwat) Environment Agency Natural England Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) Local authorities environmental health officers Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Responsible for Protecting customers interests by ensuring we provide a good quality service and value for money. Ofwat also sets water prices. Regulating the environmental impact of abstracting water from rivers and underground sources. Guiding operations on, or near, sites of special scientific interest. Providing independent monitoring of drinking water quality to ensure that it meets the legally required standards and is acceptable to consumers. Water quality and health issues arising from the use of drinking water. Providing a voice for business and domestic consumers, ensuring they stay at the heart of the industry. Overseeing Ofwat, the Environment Agency, DWI and CCWater. Business customer charter 2015/16 19

22 Other relevant organisations Sewerage providers Wessex Water Customer Billing Centre Tel Clevedon Walk, Nailsea, Bristol BS48 1WW Southern Water Customer Services Centre Tel general enquiries and information Tel water and waste-water services PO Box 41, Worthing BN13 3NZ Consumer watchdog Consumer Council for Water Tel Fax Other services E-metering Large businesses may benefit from our online, electronic metering system, which allows you to monitor your usage on a daily basis. This service is available (subject to survey) at a cost of VAT per annum. Consolidated billing Customers with multiple sites will be offered a consolidated billing service on the introduction of our new billing system later this year. Water hygiene services Aquacare Our sister company, Aquacare, offers water hygiene (legionella control) and water treatment services. Call or 20 Business customer charter 2015/16

23 Table of service standards, compensation and penalties Standards of service Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) payments Our compensation payment Automatic payment credited to your account (A) claimed by customer (C) Number of working days to make payment or credit GSS late payment penalty Statutory standards Appointments A Reply to written A complaints and enquiries Planned interruption notice Large users* less than 7 days Other users less than 5 days Interruption longer than planned Large users* Other users Emergency interruption longer than 12 hours except strategic main Emergency interruption longer than 24 hours strategic main Extra 24 hour period without water 50 (48 hours) C A C A A A A Our payments if compensation is not paid or credited to your account within the time allowed Business customer charter 2015/16 21

24 Standards of service Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) payments Our compensation payment Automatic payment credited to your account (A) claimed by customer (C) Number of working days to make payment or credit GSS late payment penalty Pressure standard C A 50 Read meter at least once a year * Large users are customers who use more than 10,000 cubic metres of water a year Bournemouth Water extra standards Repeated interruptions to 50 A your supply Failure to visit for a water pressure complaint 50 A Failure to meet sampling commitments Failure to read your meter when you move Incorrect Direct Debit payments Access to your premises (working in your street) 50 A A C C 50 Wrongful court claim 100 C 50 'Boil water' or 'Do not drink' notice Discoloured water A C 20 Flooded property 100 C 50 Failure to explain why new payment method not set up 50 C 50 Our payments if compensation is not paid or credited to your account within the time allowed 22 Business customer charter 2015/16

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