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“Left High and Dry” The Consumers View Aodhan O’Donnell Director of Policy and Education.

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Presentation on theme: "“Left High and Dry” The Consumers View Aodhan O’Donnell Director of Policy and Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Left High and Dry” The Consumers View Aodhan O’Donnell Director of Policy and Education

2 Role of the Consumer Council “Making the consumer voice heard and making it count” Ensure that the consumer view is key in policy decision Influencing the public and private sectors Running information and education campaigns Conduct research and produce publications Help individual consumers with complaints

3 Consumer Council’s water role Any matter connected with the interests of consumers in relation to the supply and provision of water and sewerage services

4 Winter Chaos

5 Water crisis Major disruption to water supplies Lack of information An inadequate response

6 What caused it? December 2010 was the coldest in Northern Ireland for 100 years. Record low of -18.7C Sub zero temperatures for 10 days 20cm snow Very rapid thaw started on 26 th December, a 15C rise in temperature in one day Bursts from customer pipes and water mains meant demand outstripped supply Around 80% of the additional water demand leaked from customer pipes. The remainder was lost from NI Water’s network.

7 What was the impact 450,000 consumers’ water supply disrupted Domestic and commercial supplies rotated 400,000+ calls to the call centre in one day – less than 1% answered 145,000+ visits to NI Water’s website on peak day 35% schools suffered water damage 290 burst water mains 360,000 litres of bottled water distributed 146 static tanks set up at 73 locations Resignation of NI Water’s CEO International negative media attention on NI Dented consumer confidence

8 Being Prepared Consumer expectations and confidence Planning Consumer Education Co-ordination, Communication, Information

9 What went wrong? Poor planning – NI Water’s MIP

10 What went wrong? Poor planning – NI Water’s MIP Poor prior education

11 What went wrong? Poor planning – NI Water’s MIP Poor prior education Poor communication

12 No Information….? Access to Accurate Information – Customer Relations Centre “I tried to get through from 9.15pm until 10.45pm on 27 December but kept getting an engaged tone. When I eventually got through I was put on hold for 56 minutes before speaking with a call handler who was then unable to provide full or useful information.”

13 Alternative sources of Information…. – Website “The website said my water would go off at 6.00 pm, it actually went off at 4.00 pm” – – Media “I was astounded at the reaction of NI Water, expressed in person through the media, attempting to shift most of the blame for the loss of water onto users” – External Organisations

14 No Water……? Access to alternative water supplies “Our main concern was water for sanitary purposes and I requested information on where was the nearest source for this purpose ie a stand pipe or bowser: this was stated not to be the responsibility of NI Water!” “No one knew where the alternative water supply was being given out. I only found where to get an alternative supply two days after the water went off. Most people found out about alternative water supplies by word of mouth.”

15 And…… Resources and Support from External Bodies Customer Care Register

16 Response NI Water’s Response and Use of Resources “I would like to commend the engineers that were working on the ground as they were doing such a great job in such bad weather conditions.” Customer Care Register Government and Cross-Agency Response “The silo mentality of NI Executive means we don’t do emergency planning very well in Northern Ireland.”

17 What went wrong? Poor planning – NI Water’s MIP Poor prior education Poor communication Poor knowledge of vulnerable consumers

18 What went wrong? Poor planning – NI Water’s MIP Poor prior education Poor communication Poor knowledge of vulnerable consumers Poor Leadership

19 What went wrong? Poor planning – NI Water’s MIP Poor prior education Poor communication Poor knowledge of vulnerable consumers Poor Leadership Poor response

20 The Consumers’ View Consumers felt frustrated, angry, confused, and vulnerable What could be controlled wasn’t Too little too late

21 Restoring Confidence: What needs to be done Planning Education Communication Customer Care Register Response Leadership

22 What is being done now? Number of reports with recommendations Improved vulnerable consumer list Testing of revised MIP planned for October Consumer focus


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