The bodies responsible for approving and monitoring ADR organisations are failing
Ongoing ADR failures
Update August 2018 Landing in court with Ryanair. Summer of 2018 sees Ryanair, CAA and AviationADR in a flying shame of failures.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system for resolving consumer complaints is broken and in danger of collapse. This is one of the conclusions of a damning new report released today. The report reveals that Government bodies have not heeded the warnings of an earlier report Ombudsman Omnishambles. In fact the reports contents argue that the regulators have been complicit in making the situation even worse.
More Ombudsman Omnishambles
The report, “More Ombudsman Omnishambles – 20 months on“, written by consumer campaigners Helen Dewdney and Marcus Williamson, follows on from their June 2016 report that exposed serious failings in the UK ADR system.
The original report Ombudsman Omnishambles highlighted the failings of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Ombudsman Association (OA). They fail in their approvals and oversight of organisations providing alternative dispute resolution for consumers and business.
Property ADR providers reduced
In February 2018 the Government announced that it was seeking to reduce the number of ADR providers in property to one because of consumer confusion. Despite this, the CTSI continues to approve providers in all sectors, significantly complicating the situation for consumers. For example, South Yorkshire Trading Standards and Kent County Council have already been approved for ADR in retail sectors which are already well covered. In addition, the CTSI is failing to deal with one particular provider which was previously known as The Retail Ombudsman (Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited). This provider continues to offer ADR services in a variety of sectors. (RetailADR, AviationADR, UtilitiesADR, CommsADR).
The report demonstrates how the CTSI and the CAA are not verifying information given by providers in their annual reports and in the media. In order for an ADR provider to be an Ombudsman, it must meet certain standards and be a member of the Ombudsman Association. The report highlights that the Ombudsman Association has higher standards for approving an ADR provider. (See Ombudsman Association minutes in the report). These include not accepting organisations which have poor governance and corporate control and which provide misleading information.
Results of the Ombudsman research
The authors of both reports, Marcus Williamson and Helen Dewdney, are appalled at what they have discovered during this research. Dewdney says “Consumers are confused by the whole ADR sector. Public money – and consumers’ time – is being wasted because of inadequate monitoring and the approval of organisations which shouldn’t be providing services to the public or which simply aren’t necessary.”
More Ombudsman Omnishambles recommendations
The new report makes a total of 13 recommendations. These include:
· ADR providers should all work towards the higher “Ombudsman” status.
· There should be no new entrants to an ADR sector which already has a well-established and properly functioning scheme.
· Approval bodies should have access to case management systems to check figures as part of annual reviews.
· Reviews and reports by ADR providers should all be verified by a chartered statistician.
· There should be a central portal which signposts consumers to the correct ADR scheme, funded by the schemes, to reduce confusion for consumers.
Westminster Business Forum seminar on consumer protection
15/11/18. Presentation at the Westminster Business Forum seminar: Next steps for consumer protection in the UK – dispute processes, enforcement and the consumer markets green paper.
Even this is wrong. ADR should not fall into consumer protection. ADR providers are impartial and are neither consumer champions or on the side of business. See 5 myths about Ombudsman providers busted for more.
Alternative Dispute Resolution – approval and oversight in the loosest sense of the words…
About the authors of Ombudsman Omnishambles and More Ombudsman Omnishambles
Helen Dewdney is “The Complaining Cow”, a consumer campaigner, author and broadcaster who blogs at http://www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk She is the author of the consumer advice book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! and 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer.
Marcus Williamson is a journalist and campaigner with a background in the Information Technology sector. In 2010 he established the website http://CEOemail.com which now helps more than 10,000 people every day to resolve consumer issues by escalating them to the individuals who can make a difference. The CEOs and MDs of companies and other organisations.