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Study Finds Most UK Consumers Unaware of ADR Complaints Scheme

Friday, August 9th, 2013 (1:30 pm) - Score 977

The UK communications regulator has today published a new GFK study into the performance of their Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) consumer complaint handler schemes, which found that only 25% of fixed broadband ISP customers that were considered eligible to use an ADR were actually aware of it.

Ofcom requires all ISPs to be members of an approved ADR, such as either Ombudsman Services: Communications (OS) or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Service (CISAS). Further details can be found under our ‘ISP Complaints and Advice‘ section.

Both schemes are designed to supplement (not replace) the ISPs own internal complaints procedures and are only used after a dispute has gone unresolved for 8 weeks (aka – Deadlock). ADR’s are free and can order your ISP to either fix the problem or pay compensation.

Last August 2012 Ofcom moved to tweak ADRs so that they could reach “better outcomes” and award “fair” compensation to consumers affected by poor broadband or phone services (here). But the new survey reveals that most of those who could make use of such schemes still aren’t even aware they exist.

adr_awareness

Apparently one reason is because providers, which are supposed to make the information clearly available to their customers, might not be doing a good enough job of keeping consumers informed. For example, just 10% of all Eligible Complainants for a fixed broadband ISP recalled receiving written notification of their right to apply to ADR.

Furthermore just under 1 in 10 complainants requested a deadlock letter (a letter or email from an ISP to the complainant explaining that their complaint is considered deadlocked and thus eligible for ADR) and about 7% of complainants said they had received a deadlock letter. But 22% of respondents who said they had received a deadlock letter were not aware of ADR.

Overall 53% of complaints, whose complaint had been unresolved for over eight weeks or had reached a point of deadlock with their provider, had already switched or planned to switch provider because of their complaint (rises to 74% for those who actually ended up using an ADR).

The study also reveals which causes tend to push consumers into being eligible for an ADR scheme. Unsurprisingly slow connection speeds top the pack for fixed broadband customers.

adr_causes_for_complaints

At the end of the day only 29% of Eligible Complainants said they were satisfied with the final outcome of their complaint and 46% were very dissatisfied with the final outcome of their complaint, although satisfaction with the final outcome is much higher among those who actually proceeded to use an ADR (47%).

Ofcoms ADR Study (GFK)
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/…/adr-august-2013/ADR_august2013.pdf

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. Avatar Adrian says:

    How the hell is “unable to get broadband” an “eligible complaint”? Since when has any provider been required to provide service. As an company we have a right to decide who we want as customers for any reason that is not on race or sex, and not being able to provide service is a damn good reason. There is no way such a thing, presumably from someone not yet a customer even, is a valid complaint to take to ADR. The fact they even consider that an eligible complaint is part of the problem with ADR, but I could rant about ADR for hours (and have done). The fact ADR can agree no breach of contract and still make arbitrary awards when the ISP has essentially won the case is plainly wrong even for a system designed at the outset to be unfair.

    1. Avatar dragoneast says:

      It’s the national disease of “playing the system”. Politically an ADR/Ombudsman scheme allows the politicians “off the hook” as they’re the first resort for public dissatisfaction about anything. (After all, what else are they any use for?)

      Then the population divide into two (unequal parts). A minority who milk the system for all they can get (banks, insurers and ISPs are no different – they’re all fair game) and a silent majority who just get on with their lives (and pay the costs to subsidise the rest).

      I bet it’s your customers who pay the price.

  2. Avatar dragoneast says:

    cont/ because I’m afraid we’re a nation of gamblers. Recent history is a litany of getting “easy money” without effort, from house price inflation and privatisation “giveaways”, just look at 50% of advertising which is gambling related, even most financial “instruments”, to government induced “compensation” for endowments, pension investments, warranties; “kiss me quick” litigators, insurance scams, and now government “lottery” style giveaways (the “competition” scam) . . . is anyone innocent? ISPs aren’t going to be immune from this melee. And the best thing is that it’s the rich that benefit, and are the worse culprits, every time.
    Rant over.

  3. Avatar ant says:

    I have no idea why my post was removed, i can only assume it was due to a complaint. If Adrian had read the report they would had discovered ‘unable to get broadband’ is a legitimate complaint as it does indeed refer to people with tags and similar on their line. Which prevent them from getting broadband rather than a product itself not being available.

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