Ofcom vows to smooth out ISP complaint complaints
'Inconsistencies' found in dispute handling
Pissed-off punters can now benefit from what communications watchdog Ofcom has described as "an improved experience" when complaining about mobiles, landlines and broadband.
The regulator said it has held a major review of its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services, which act as middlemen between internet providers and upset customers, and added that new measures were now in place as a result.
It has been agreed that approved ADRs - the Ombudsman Services: Communications (OS) and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Service (CISAS) - will adhere to a set of common principles when mulling over gripes from telco users.
Ofcom claimed that those principles would "help safeguard against any potential inconsistencies in the way the schemes deal with and resolve consumer complaints, resulting in better outcomes for consumers".
As part of the deal, the ADRs have to adopt common compensation guidelines, the watchdog said.
"Effective redress for consumers is essential and by providing a free, independent service to consider disputes, ADR schemes play a key part in this. OS and CISAS have agreed to the new decision making principles, and Ofcom has therefore continued its approval of both of these ADR providers," said Ofcom consumer group director Claudio Pollack.
The schemes had met most of the criteria to deserve approved status from the regulator, but Ofcom's review uncovered that those ADRs had fallen short of effectively helping a small number of complaining customers, leading to "inconsistent outcomes".
CISAS saw a 56 per cent annual increase in grumbles from telco customers, while OS reported a 17 per cent jump, according to the most recent figures, Ofcom said.
Kim Brook, a member of the independent policy-advising Communications Consumer Panel, said in response to Ofcom's review: "It is vital that the schemes are not only consistent with each other, but also swift, fair, free and effective." ®
I wonder if this also brings logic and sense to the decisions made to the ISPs. I have no experience of ADR, other than the ranting of the director of my ISP, AAISP, and the alternate reality dispute decisions that seem to have been made arbitarily. Their side of the story is on http://www.aa.net.uk/2012-adr.html but it seems somewhat odd that despite the ISP meeting their contractual commitment, they were required to pay compensation anyway.
Full Disclosure: I am a customer of AAISP, but not employed by them, or receive any monitary dispensation from them. I also have no other experience of ADR.
Slow broadband - it did say up to, they never specified a minimum, so tough luck.
Unlimited - in our dictionary it means "up to we think is too much", no without actual limits.
I am sure there are more out there.
I do have experience of ADR. It was a pointless process as though I clearly laid out a timeline of problems I had with Vodafone, Ofcom were unable/unwilling to give proper consideration to what was only a mildly complicated case where my claims were consistent throughout but Vodafone's varied all the while.
They essentially washed their hands of the whole affair (and their obligation to do a decent job of looking into it) and said there was no appeal process to deal with my dissatisfaction with the outcome, even though they admitted that various points had not adequately been addressed.
From this past experience I would say to anyone that Ofcom are simply not worth consulting unless you have cast iron (and very simple) proof that you are being done over by your provider and that you should spend your time doing something that doesn't want to make you go on some kind of killing spree.
I can't see how the odd new process is going to cause the required revolution at Ofcom.