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Ofcom Reviews Dispute Resolution

Posted: 28th Jul, 2005 By: MarkJ
Yesterday saw Ofcom begin its annual review of current Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes. Even ISP's must provide access to such a system, although it only exists to deal with more serious/unresolved problems:

Ofcom has approved two schemes: the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman (Otelo) and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS).

Ofcom is also consulting on recommendations that communications providers should:

* Improve the procedures they use to handle complaints. For example, providers need to make customers aware of their complaints Code of Practice. This should be accessible via company websites and / or on customer invoices;

* Ensure that staff who deal with customers are trained to handle complaints and to apply those procedures;

* Make customers more aware of the role that ADR schemes can play in dealing with unresolved complaints;

* Record any expression of dissatisfaction as a complaint, regardless of how it was communicated and whether or not the provider thinks it is justified.

Ofcom’s proposals also recommend that ADR schemes should:

* Publish Key Performance Indicators on how quickly complaints are dealt with and whether customers are satisfied with the handling of complaints;

* Consider using an independent third party to handle complaints about their own investigation process;

* Take action against providers who fail to comply with their rules, which may include exclusion from the scheme. Communications providers must be members of an Ofcom-approved ADR scheme to secure the regulator's approval for their customer complaints and disputes Code of Practice.

* This is required under Sections 52-54 of the Communications Act 2003 (General Condition 14).


We’re surprised that some of the new recommendations weren’t considered sooner, although better late than never. We also like the idea of publishing ‘Key Performance Indicators’, yet we’re unclear as to whether this would be made publicly available.
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