How we work with consumers and companies to resolve complaints


Our people

Our people are friendly, approachable and down-to-earth. We are trained to listen and to provide a firm and fair helping hand to consumers and service providers. We help to get the complaint resolved as quickly as possible with the most appropriate outcome. We also work closely with companies to provide one-to-one support and industry-wide advice; this helps to improve the way services are delivered and complaints are handled. By participating in our schemes, companies show to their customers that they take complaints seriously – our brand is a mark of quality.

Our processes

Our processes are designed to be high quality, proportionate and effective. Complaints are usually resolved within six to eight weeks. Using our service does not prevent you from seeking redress through the courts and the outcome may be different from that of a court. However, if you accept our decision and remedy, you are doing so in full and final settlement of the complaint.

We ensure our services are widely accessible. We base our decisions on what is fair and reasonable. When we make a decision we take into account:

  • both sides of the story;
  • regulatory rules, guidance and standards;
  • codes of practice, relevant law and regulations; and
  • what is accepted as good industry practice.

Before we can accept your complaint you must give the company a reasonable opportunity to resolve it. If you receive the company’s final position on the complaint (deadlock) and you remain unhappy, or eight weeks pass and the complaint remains unresolved*, we may be able to help.

If we accept your complaint we will decide the best way to resolve it, and will aim to find a resolution that both you and the company agree on. This what happens next fact sheet outlines our process. 

You can withdraw from the process at any point. In exceptional circumstances, where the Ombudsman considers it necessary (as a matter of sole discretion) a site visit, expert report or a face-to-face meeting (or hearing) may be arranged.

There are some reasons why we may not accept a complaint. For example:

  • the customer has not attempted to resolve the complaint directly with the service provider;
  • the dispute is frivolous or vexatious;
  • the dispute is currently being, or has in the past been, considered by another ADR scheme or court;
  • the value of the claim exceeds the maximum value of an award that we can make;
  • the customer has not submitted the dispute within the required time; and/or
  • dealing with the dispute would seriously impair the effective operation of Ombudsman Services.

 

Our processes
We ensure our services are widely accessible.
We base our decisions on what is fair and reasonable.
When we make a decision we take into account:
both sides of the story
regulatory rules, guidance and standards
codes of practice, relevant law and regulations
what is accepted as good industry practice
Before we can accept a complaint from you we must give the company a reasonable opportunity to resolve it.
If you receive the company’s final position on the complaint (deadlock) and you remain unhappy, or eight weeks pass and the complaint remains unresolved, we may be able to help.
We aim to find quick, informal and realistic resolutions to your complaint which you and the company both agree on.
Our method
We want to resolve complaints as early and as easily as possible for you by reaching a mutually acceptable settlement (MAS). We do this in the following ways:
Early resolution
If a complaint appears to be uncomplicated we will try to resolve it by speaking to the company for you.
Mutually Acceptable Settlement (MAS)
If, when we look at a complaint, it looks more complicated but could still be resolved without the need for a full investigation we will work with you and the company to reach a resolution that you’re both happy with. For example there may not be a dispute over the facts of the case, just a disagreement over what to do to put things right and we can propose a reasonable resolution.
Pre-investigation case closure
If, when we approach the company you and it tells us that it could do more to settle the complaint we may agree to give it the opportunity to do so. We will then check that you are happy with the resolution offered.
Investigation
If a case is very complicated or we are unable to reach a mutually acceptable settlement we will write a report giving our decision. We sent the report to both parties to check to see if we have made any mistakes or failed to take into account a key piece of information. If you and the company accept this, it becomes the final decision. If we have made an error or missed something either party can let us know. We will take this into account when making our final decision.

Our remedies

If we decide that a participating company has made a mistake or treated you unfairly, we may require a remedy that returns you to the position you would be in if the mistake had not occurred. Find out more about our remedies.

 

*Six weeks for SSE customers.