Complaints Handling, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Quality of Service

Our actions, Outputs and Stakeholder Engagement...

In February 2008 the Panel engaged with Ofcom at a Panel meeting to provide advice on Ofcom's proposed Review of Complaints Handling and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes, which was published in an advice note. Ofcom responded to this note in July 2008 stating how it would take forward the Panel's recommendations.

In October 2008 the Panel wrote to Ofcom with a general response to the Ofcom consultation document "Review of quality of service information - Phase 1: information on quality of customer service" published on 17 July 2008.  The Panel stated that quality of service (QoS) information is an important factor in making consumers more active in the telecoms market. We stated that the publication of QoS indicators would be a valuable incentive to industry to not only maintain but improve standards. And the added competition for improved network quality between providers would benefit consumers.

In June 2009 the Panel considered the progress of Ofcom's work on complaints handling and ADR and supported steps taken to make ADR more accessible by reducing the period before consumers can go to ADR from 12 to 8 weeks. The Panel recommended that Ofcom focused separately on complaints-handling with a view to increasing the level of complaints-handling considerably and develop a definition of a complaint which includes issues that are not escalated.

In September 2009 the Panel again considered the progress of Ofcom's work on complaints handling and ADR.  The Panel felt that Ofcom's proposed consultation would not resolve all the issues and recommended that complaint handling and ADR should feature in Ofcom's 2010/11 Annual Plan to reflect the fact that this would be a long term project.

In early 2010, during development of Ofcom's Review document the Panel met regularly with colleagues from Ofcom, helping them to understand the issue from a consumer perspective and advising them on improving the way communications providers handle complaints.  In March 2010 the Panel responded to Ofcom's consultation on complaints handling, stating that the proposed new code of practice was an important step towards improving how communications providers deal with consumer complaints. We welcomed the plans to enable consumers to register and escalate complaints more easily and were pleased that the code would apply to complaints made by small businesses (up to 10 employees), as well as individual consumers.

In June and July 2010, the Panel held discussions with Ofcom's consumer affairs team and advised them to proceed as quickly as possible with work to publish Ofcom complaints data and explore the possibility of publishing ADR data.  In July 2010 we responded to Ofcom's statement on complaints handling and issued a press release calling for publication of complaints data.

In October 2010 the Panel again considered the progress of Ofcom's work on complaints handling and ADR at a Panel meeting and provided advice. 

As well as routine monitoring of the ongoing work of Ofcom, the Panel also held meetings with Otelo, to understand the situation from the perspective of the ombudsman. 

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