Government and regulators continue to fail on resolving consumer disputes

The bodies responsible for approving and monitoring ADR organisations are failing

Ongoing ADR failures

Update August 2018 Landing in court with RyanairSummer 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 and that regulators have been complicit in making the situation even worse.

More Ombudsman Omnishambles

Ombudsman Omnishambles The UK ADR landscape 20 months on...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) 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) and which continues to provide 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 minutes in 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.More Ombudsman Omnishambles crowds of people

Westminster Business Forum seminar on consumer protection

Presentation at the Westminster Business Forum seminar Next steps for consumer protection in the UK – dispute processes, enforcement and the consumer markets green paper. 15/11/18

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…

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 here 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! 

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.

Email the CEO!

I DO NOT SUPPLY EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR CEO’S. PLEASE READ THE POST FOR DETAILS ON WHERE TO FIND THEM!

A guest post from Marcus Williamson, Editor of ceoemail.com Want to contact a CEO? This site is not affiliated with ceoemail.com in anyway. Requests for CEO contact details will not be provided on this The Complaining Cow website. Go to ceoemail.com you’ll find contact details there! If CEOemail.com does not have the address or it is out of date please email the site. Marcus will find the correct one for you. I cannot do this.

Why and when should I email the CEO?

So, you’ve got a problem with a company’s product or service. You have tried emailing and calling customer services and got nowhere so far. Is it time to email the CEO and why would you want to do so?

The time to involve the CEO will vary on a case-by-case basis. In my experience, if you have not received a reply from an initial customer service enquiry within 7 days, then it is time to escalate. If you have called customer service and they have promised a call-back but not honoured the promise, then again it is time to escalate. Likewise, if customer service have responded but have not resolved the issue to your satisfaction, then it’s time to go to the top.

The CEO is the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation. The CEO is ultimately responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation and the people who comprise it. The CEO can make a difference to your consumer issue by making decisions that others, in customer services, often cannot make because they are not empowered to do so. The CEO also knows the best person to whom issues should be delegated, if necessary.

The key is to establish who is the most senior person within the organisation who has executive power to resolve your consumer issue: The power to execute actions and to ensure that they are correctly performed. These are the people who can make a difference to your consumer issue. A direct approach to the CEO, when necessary, can bypass “customer service” and the unwieldy procedures and processes that prevent your issue from being dealt with effectively. It is worth remembering that the top person in an organisation may have a title other than Chief Executive Officer, depending on the type of organisation and its geographical location. You might also find other titles being used:

Organisation Title
Company Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Company Managing Director or General Manager
Company Executive Chairman
Newspaper Editor
TV/Radio station Controller
University Vice Chancellor or Principal
School Headteacher or Principal
Hospital Trust Chief Executive
Union General Secretary
Prison Governor
Hotel General Manager
Museum or Gallery Director or Curator

About the Author

Marcus Williamson is the editor of ceoemail.com, a consumer information website which can help you resolve issues by taking them to the top of the organisation.

Comment from the Complaining Cow

How does it work? The site lists the email contact details for the CEOs of many major companies. Marvellous. Blooming marvellous. If the company isn’t listed, email him ceoemail@connectotel.com I am honoured to call Marcus a friend. I have only met him the once but you’ll see he’s thanked in my book because of all his support when I came to the final stages and continues to assist me! Rather too many of those CEOs email addresses are there thanks to me requesting them over the last 5 years! The site is, quite simply, brilliant. Use it and contact a CEO who hasn’t ensured a good enough customer service team. Make sure you follow all the tips before you contact him/her!

CEO contact details complaining effectively