Most of us have faced problems with communications and entertainment providers, whether that’s internet outages, patchy phone service or not seeing all the TV channels for which you’ve paid.
Whatever the issue, sometimes things can be sorted quickly with a phone call to your supplier. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always do the trick, and people find themselves paying for a service that isn’t up to scratch.
Here’s our step by step guide to complaining effectively, as well as how to escalate things if your provider won’t play ball.
Contact the company’s customer service department to explain your problem, as they may be able to sort it out for you straight away.
If not, make a formal complaint to the company. Consider doing this in writing, although you can do it by phone or email.
Sometimes companies respond more quickly and are more helpful if you complain via social media sites such as Twitter. It’s worth trying this, possibly including a consumer or money-saving journalist in the tweet to bring it to a wider audience.
If the problem can’t be sorted to your satisfaction through any of these complaint channels, ask for a deadlock letter. A deadlock letter is a confirmation from your provider that they’ve been unable to resolve your complaint or that they don’t feel there’s any more they need to do.
Once you have a deadlock letter (or if eight weeks have passed since you formally complained), you can then go to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. This is essentially a middleman who can step in to help resolve your complaint.
There are two ADR schemes for the communications industry. Both are independent and approved by Ofcom:
Your provider has to be a member of one of these. Ask your provider or refer to the schemes’ websites to find out which.
When you escalate your case to an ADR, make sure you give them all the information you can, including copies of correspondence.
Once they’ve collected all the information they need, they’ll pass your case to an independent adjudicator, who usually makes a final decision within six weeks.
If you accept the ADR’s decision, your provider will have to carry out the specified actions.
If you aren’t happy with the outcome, there is usually an opportunity to appeal it.