Increased protection for sewer-flooded customers

Posted: Tuesday 15th April 2008

New regulations that came into force recently will strengthen the protection for consumers who suffer sewer flooding. The regulations have been introduced by the Government and follow Ofwat's recommendations of how GSS should be improved for customers.

The changes will ensure customers normally receive at least £150 if their building is flooded by sewage from a public sewer in England & Wales.

Under the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) water and sewerage companies must make automatic payments to customers when their performance falls below a certain standard.

Andrew Dunn, Ofwat's Director of Consumer Protection, said: "We recognise that payments can never reimburse customers for the distressing problems they experience when they are flooded with sewage.

"These payments are not designed to take the place of insurance. But they are recognition of a service failure by the company.

ďAs well as benefiting from these new rights customers can also help to avoid flooding by disposing sensibly of fat and other items which can block sewers."

The new GSS regulations will extend the rights of customers by:

∑ Setting a minimum payment of £150 each time their building is flooded by sewage;

∑ Including a new standard for customers materially affected by external sewer flooding of their land and property by sewage; and

∑ Setting external sewer flooding payments at 50% of the annual sewerage charge for each incident (minimum payment of £75).

Under GSS, companies are exempt from making payments when flooding is due to exceptional weather conditions or blockages and other problems with the customerís drain. Ofwat will be consulting in April on guidance to help customers and companies understand when the weather exemptions are likely to apply.

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