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ADR Ombudsman Business

Alternative Dispute Resolution: What it all means

Alternative Dispute Resolution

From the 9th July 2015 The EU ADR Directive was supposed to come into force. It was delayed until the 1st October. This compels the government to ensure that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes are in place.

ADR is a process that enables disputes between a consumer and a business to be settled via an independent mechanism outside the court system and can provide a quicker resolution. There are different forms of ADR:

Different ADR methods

Arbitration – an impartial and independent third party will decide how to resolve your dispute. In most cases, the arbitrator’s decision is binding and cannot be challenged in court. Costs vary and sometimes arbitration is free as with IDRS and ACAS services.

Adjudication – by ombudsmen (or ADR provider) and free to the consumer. Binding on the trader (they lose membership if don’t abide by the rules but this rare) but not on you should you not agree and want to take the matter to court.

Mediation/conciliation – remains confidential and cannot be used in a later court hearing. The cost varies: in some instances it’s free; in others, it can get expensive. By the very nature of the word “mediation” someone will work with you and the other party to reach a decision. If agreement is made and signed this is legally binding. You would only be to go to court to enforce it if necessary.

Negotiation – which is used most commonly in employment situations. You can choose to have a union rep or someone else present while you negotiate.

Generally, arbitration is binding on both parties to the dispute; mediation/conciliation and negotiation are non-binding; and adjudication and ombudsmen schemes do not bind the complainant, but will be binding on the other side.

Film on ADR recorded for Citizen’s Advice:

The Complaining Cow - when things go wrong

07/10/20 International Ombuds day – what’s it all about

Guest posts by Ombudsmen

Why use the Financial Ombudsman?

Furniture and dispute resolution guest post.

Energy ombudsman shows how to keep heat on your supplier

Myths about Ombudsmen

It is common to come across people who think that Ombudsmen see in favour of companies for example. However, this is just one myth. This post 5 Ombudsman myths busted explains more.

However there are some issues and these are in the oversight and approval and monitoring of ADR providers.

The ADR appears to have let the flood gates open and the potential for an omnishambles of ombudsmen is upon us.

Problems in the ADR/Ombudsman sector

Lots of people failings in alternative dispute resolution
How are authorities failing in their approval of ombudsmen and ADR providers? Many ways

 

20/10/16 Ombudsman chaos continues – Even on Conflict Resolution Day

06/06/17 The Retail Ombudsman is no more as title is lost

22/06/17 Ombudsman Omnishambles Serious unresolved issues affecting the operation of the ombudsman ADR system in the UK

 

 

 

21/07/17 Statement on The Retail Ombudsman by the Ombudsman Association

28/02/18 Government & regulators continue to fail consumers

28/02/18 More Ombudsman Omnishambles The UK ADR Landcsape 20 months on the report.

23/08/18 Landing in court with Ryanair the latest,  Which? and The Independent, reports included.

07/10/20 CAA launches consultation and tells no-one…

22/10/20 Ryanair tops the CAA refund complaints figures

16/12/21 CMA steps in where the CAA fears to tread

18/03/21 Civil Aviation Authority consults on dispute resolution

The above links also link to articles from Which?, Financial Times and The Independent that describe a number of problems which are not the fault of providers and provide  warnings about one provider, Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited run by Dean Dunham which runs RetailADR, UtitlitiesADR and AviationADR.

Ombudsman Omnishambles discussed on You and Yours Radio 4

How approval bodies are failing to properly approve and monitor Alternative Dispute Resolution -

 

Help with complaining effectively

 

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Need help? GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

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Categories
ADR Ombudsman Press releases Topical

The ADR Directive and Ombudsman Omnishambles

Update to this story Ombudsman Omnishambles: New report exposes serious failings in ombudsman approval and oversight

Further update Landing in court with Ryanair provides links to more reports, articles in the FT  and Which? regarding the mess.

New privatised system of Alternative Dispute Resolution threatens consumer complaints chaos – but even its own implementation has now been delayed…

The ADR Directive

A new EU-mandated system of private ombudsmen which was due to come into force today, 9 July 2015, will not now be implemented 1 October 2015. Private companies will then be handling consumer complaints in sectors including retail, aviation, furniture and property.

Under the new system companies would be obliged to point customers to private complaints-handling companies but would not be bound by their decisions.

Issues in ADR approval and monitoring

Apart from the delay in implementation, there are many problems with the system as it is proposed.

For example:

  • There are two ombudsmen for the retail sector: One run by the company The Retail Ombudsman, the other by Ombudsman Services. There are also three ombudsmen for the property sector. This will lead to considerable confusion for the public. [1]
  • There are no criminal records checks for ombudsmen employees or directors: The company calling itself The Retail Ombudsman employs a convicted criminal as its communications director. [2]
  • One private company already running another ombudsman service pre-launched an Aviation Ombudsman without obtaining CAA permission. [3]
  • The CAA had previously confirmed that it would be winding down its own complaints scheme in favour of a privatised operation from 1 September 2015 (depending on certain conditions). [4]
  • There is no “ombudsman of ombudsmen” – The body responsible setting up Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes, the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), has no consumer complaints system.
  • The chairman of the trade body The Ombudsman Association, Lewis Shand Smith, is also the CEO of one of the ombudsman companies. [5]
  • When the law eventually comes into force from 1 October 2015, traders will be obliged to tell consumers where to go for ADR but are not obliged to use ADR services.
  • Update 12/10/15 Ombudsman services have set up a Consumer Ombudsman for “everything else” increasing the likelihood of more doubling up.

Supermarket comments on The Retail Ombudsman

Asked about the retail ombudsman via Twitter in May this year, Sainsbury’s social media staff replied candidly.

Further details of these issues are available on request.

About the authors

Marcus Williamson, Editor of the consumer information website CEOemail.com, says “These new companies are in this for the money and will be charging the companies whose customers are complaining. Those costs will inevitably be passed onto consumers through higher prices of products and services.”

More about CEOemail.com:  http://www.ceoemail.com/ceoemail-faq.php

Helen Dewdney, Consumer Champion and author of the book “How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!”, says:  “This ongoing Ombudsman omnishambles is helping no-one and will only result in confusion for consumers. If an ADR regime is to work well for consumers it needs a single ombudsman per sector, a clear code of practice and independent oversight.”

More about Helen Dewdney: //www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk/
Email: helen@thecomplainingcow.co.uk

Notes

[1] For example: http://www.theretailombudsman.org.uk/ and
http://www.ombudsman-services.org/retail-and-other-sectors.html
[2] http://www.theretailombudsman.org.uk/contact/
Neville Thurlbeck, former News of the World chief reporter, was jailed for 6 months in July 2014 for phone hacking. The Trading Standards Institute has confirmed that criminal record checks are not necessary for ombudsman directors or staff.
[3] Screenshot available on request
[4] https://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=14&pagetype=65&appid=7&mode=detail&nid=2446
[5] http://www.ombudsmanassociation.org/association-executive.php

Radio 4 appearance discussing ombudsmen:

Ombudsman Omnishambles discussed on You and Yours Radio 4

 

How approval bodies are failing to properly approve and monitor Alternative Dispute Resolution -