Ofcom Improve Customer Complaints Rules

News Article - Wednesday, 22 August 2012 11:34

By: Kerry Butters Category: Connectivity

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has approved new measures to help consumers when they put in a complaint about a company when they are having problems with landline, mobile phone and broadband.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes act as a "middleman” in the event that no resolution to a complaint can be found. The two new organisations, "Ombudsman Services: Communications (OS) and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Service (CISAS), must follow a set of common principles when considering consumer complaints,” Ofcom said in a press release.

"These ‘decision making principles’ will help safeguard against any potential inconsistencies in the way the schemes deal with and resolve consumer complaints, resulting in better outcomes for consumers,” the regulator went on to say.

During a review of ADR and CISAS, it was found that the schemes "resolve disputes effectively” but had a number of inconsistencies that needed to be addressed, it’s thought that the new regulations will reduce such inconsistencies. Further to this, the organisations must "adopt common compensation guidelines” and ensure that all consumers are treated fairly when it comes to being awarded recompense.

During the Ofcom review, it was noted by the regulators that the two schemes had both introduced improvements so that they are now more accessible, somewhat proven by the fact that more consumers than ever before are now using the service.

Recent figures have shown complaints made to CISAS have risen by 56% over the course of the year, whilst OS saw a 17% rise.

Claudio Pollack, Director of Ofcom’s Consumer Group, said: "Effective redress for consumers is essential and by providing a free, independent service to consider disputes, ADR schemes play a key part in this. OS and CISAS have agreed to the new decision making principles, and Ofcom has therefore continued its approval of both of these ADR providers.”

The regulatory body will continue to work with the ADR schemes to ensure that the "new decision making principles” continue to work well and the schemes will be reviewed on a regular basis. Ofcom guidelines for consumers on how to make a complaint can be found on the Ofcom website.

In response to Ofcom, the Communications Consumer Panel’s Kim Brook said: "The Communications Consumer Panel has consistently backed moves to improve the two ADR schemes, including the introduction of decision-making principles to increase consistency in outcomes”.

Brook went on to say that the panel was satisfied that Ofcom has listened to their concerns over the fairness, accessibility and effectiveness of the complaints process.

"The Panel continues to call for the publication of information about complaints referred to ADR and the proportion that are upheld,” Brooks concluded.

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