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Study Finds Most UK Consumers Unaware of ADR Complaints Scheme

Friday, Aug 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.


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.


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)

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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