Wednesday 17 December 2008


I recently come across this online docoment produced by Hutchison 3G on with regards to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and complaints handling by Ofcom.

I have included the final summary with my own comments in Red

"CP" stands for Communications Provider


1. Do you agree with the following definition of Complaint:
“Complaint means an expression of dissatisfaction made to a Communications Provider
related to its products or services, or the complaints-handling process itself, where a response
or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.”

H3G understands why Ofcom wishes to agree a single definition of "complaint" across the
entire communications sector. However in order for it to be effective Ofcom will need to give a
number of examples of what would and would not be an expression of dissatisfaction. For
example is it a complaint if a customer calls and says their bill is too high? Or their handset
doesn’t have the functionality they were used to and they don’t like it, or they didn’t have
coverage in the area they holidayed in? In each instance the customer could refuse to accept
the answer they are given and to demand it be escalated. This could significantly increase the
number of recorded "complaints" despite these not being issues for which H3G could
reasonably held responsible.
As indicated above H3G would like to see fault removed from the definition of complaint as this
may trigger a referral to ADR for a problem relating to a manufacturers fault.
In the end a complaint is a complaint and should be dealt with accordingly even if you are providing a product from a third party (i.e. Nokia, Siemens etc...) The CP is responsible for this product reaching the customer in the first place so they should take the correct measures in rectifying their problem and if they don't then of course they have the right to make a complaint!

2. Do you agree that a consumer should have the right to go to ADR:
(a) eight weeks after a complaint is first received by a CP; OR (b) earlier, if a CP has issued a
deadlock letter.
H3G agrees with these proposals.

3. Do you agree with our preferred Option 4 that a CP should be required to give written
notice about ADR: (a) Within five working days after the Communications Provider received
the Complaint, unless the complaint has been resolved at the first point of contact;(If a
consumer contacts a CP again about a matter which the CP reasonably believed to be
resolved at first contact then notice should be given at that time) AND (b) eight weeks after the
CP first receives the complaint, earlier if the complaint is resolved or when the CP issues a
Deadlock Notice.

H3G disagree with the requirement to notify customers within 5 days (see above). Why? Surely this would create a sense of confidence with the person complaining, plus most industries (especially Financial Services) have a 5 day notification policy for complaints.
H3G agree with notifying the customer at 8 weeks if the complaint is unresolved and in the
event of a deadlock letter.

4. Do you agree that the notice about ADR which CP should give must be: (a) be in writing in
a durable form (b) be in plain English, clearly written and concise; (c) include a reference for
the complaint; (d) include details of the ADR Scheme which the CP is a member of, including
contact details; (e) and summarise when the consumer has the right to go to ADR Scheme
and the role of the ADR Scheme.
H3G disagrees with (a) One of two reasons (both bad) I can see for this, 1. A cost saving measure so they don't have to pay for the excessive paperwork or 2. They try to avoid providing any written hard copies of replies making it harder for the consumer to keep records. (see above) but agrees with (b) – (e)

5. Do you have any comments on the criteria which we propose we will use in our future
review approval of the ADR Schemes?


6. Do you agree that CPs’ should be required to comply with a single Ofcom Approved
Complaints Code of Practice which sets out high level mandatory standards for complaints
H3G support this, but request further clarification on the operation of the proposed complaints
handling procedures as detailed above.

7. Do you agree that CPs should be required to keep a log of all complaints? We could require
CPs to log complaints when they are first received and as they are handled. These records
must include as a minimum for each Complaint a log setting out:
(a) Details of the Complainant, including their name and address; (b) the date on which the
Complaint is first received; (c) a description of the Complaint; (d) and a description of how the
CP deals with the Complaint.

Ofcom argues the record keeping is required in order to demonstrate compliance with the new
requirements. However the requirement to acknowledge the complaint and send details of the
ADR scheme and to refer within 8 weeks, is not dependent on the details of the complaint,
name and address being stored. Statistics showing date received date of letters sent and
updates sent would enable Ofcom to evaluate whether the regulation was being complied with.
H3G has provided an estimate for the cost associated with implementing this requirement in
and strongly questions whether this is proposal is proportionate to its stated aim and value.

8. Do you agree that three months from publication of the Statement for this Review is a reasonable period to implement the changes proposed in this Consultation Document?

Three months is wholly unrealistic. The system changes for the monitoring of complaints and
the requirements to acknowledge in writing every complaint would take a minimum of 8-12
months to implement. Some system changes could form part of a proposed project however
this, if agreed, would not be implemented until late 2009. Well this answers the question as to why a lot of people are not getting their complaints with 3 dealt with!! The practice acknowledging complaints should already be in place and this proves that their customer services complaints department was never eqipped in the first place!!

Click here to read the whole docoment (or right click and save PDF file)

Please feel free to post your comments about this document.

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