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Ofcom Finds Vodafone UK Breached its Complaint Handling Rules

Monday, June 6th, 2016 (11:47 am) - Score 704
vodafone uk broadband

The United Kingdom’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has today ruled that there are “reasonable grounds for believing” that mobile and broadband provider Vodafone breached consumer complaint handing rules by not having the correct procedures in place.

Under the rules all operators are legally required to be members of an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme, such CISAS or Ombudsman Services, which are designed to supplement (not replace) the providers own internal complaints system and are only used after a dispute has gone unresolved for 8 weeks (the “Deadlock Letter” stage). See our ISP Complaints and Advice section for more.

In keeping with that Ofcom’s General Condition 14.4 rule is designed to ensure that providers adopt proper complaints handling procedures, which must be transparent, accessible, effective, facilitate access to an ADR and provide for appropriate record keeping. But it looks as if Vodafone dropped the ball on this one.

Ofcom’s Statement

Specifically, Ofcom has reasonable grounds to believe that Vodafone contravened GC 14.4 by:

1) not having procedures, as required by paragraph 3 of the Ofcom Approved Code of Practice for Complaints Handling (the “Code of Practice”), that were effective to “ensure” the fair and timely resolution of Complaints, to clearly established timeframes; and

2) not securing, as required by paragraph 4(d) of the Code of Practice, that a Written Notification was sent to customers if a Complaint (as defined in the Code of Practice) remained unresolved after 8 weeks and no relevant exceptions applied.

The investigation relates to a fairly wide period between 1st January 2014 and 5th November 2015, which probably caught a fair few problems. Ofcom, which has the power to fine or impose changes upon naughty operators, has now notified Vodafone and will give them a chance to respond before making a final decision.

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