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Charter UK Urges Ofcom to Tackle Individual Consumer Complaints Itself

Monday, Sep 3rd, 2012 (2:15 pm) - Score 438

The boss of Charter UK, which is itself a provider of complaints management software, has today criticised the communications regulator (Ofcom) for being unable to handle individual complaints about landline, mobile phone and broadband providers and instead using two separate ADR schemes.

Last month saw Ofcom introduce new “decision making principles” to help its two Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) consumer complaint handler schemes – Ombudsman Services (OS) and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Service (CISAS) – reach “better outcomes” for customers affected by poor broadband ISP or phone service (here).

At the time Ofcom revealed that there had been a 56% annual increase in the number of consumer complaints made to CISAS and a 17% rise for OS, yet Charter UK’s CEO, Paul Clark, warns that “having two separate bodies looking into customer complaints will make it extremely difficult” to tackle these problems.

Paul Clark, CEO of Charter UK, said:

Whilst we welcome any attempt from Ofcom to streamline its complaints investigation services, the regulator’s decision to create common guidelines for the Ombudsman Services: Communications (OS) and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Service (CISAS) is still far from ideal.

Clearly, there are problems in this sector that need to be resolved as a matter of urgency, and having two separate bodies looking into customer complaints will make it extremely difficult to achieve this goal. If the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) can deal with complaints from across the entire financial services sector, then why can’t a single entity handle complaints about landline, mobile phone and broadband providers?

In any situation where large volumes of complaints recur, there is likely to be a ‘root cause’ that needs to be addressed, yet this information will be very difficult to analyse if it is spread across both the OS and CISAS. The telecoms industry therefore needs a single, unified ombudsman to address these issues, so that customers can receive the redress that they deserve, and so that telecoms companies can identify the root cause of any complaints much more quickly and efficiently.”

Naturally Charter UK has a vested interest here and it would surely take a wider degree of criticism to encourage a change of course by Ofcom, which could also have serious implications for both OS and CISAS. Indeed aside from a few problems, which triggered the new guidelines, Ofcom continues to state that they are broadly “satisfied that both Schemes continue to meet the approval criteria“.

The regulator will however expect to see some improvement from the ADR’s, which may or may not result in the need for stricter changes. In either case we’re still a long way from seeing any sort of major shake-up in how consumer complaints are handled. On top of that there’s no guarantee that centralising complaints within Ofcom would actually improve the process.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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