Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an important part of the protection available to consumers with complaints about their communications provider (CP). All communications providers are required to be members of an Ofcom-approved ADR scheme. Consumers can take their complaint to ADR eight weeks after they have complained to their telecom providers or, before that, if their complaint has reached deadlock.
The two approved ADR schemes: Ombudsman Services: Communications (“OS”) and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (“CISAS”) are positioned effectively for communications issues, but are not able to provide ADR for users of premium rate services.
Under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015, premium rate merchants have to refer consumers to ADR in a deadlocked situation. Due to the telecoms linkage they must refer to the only two companies approved by Ofcom. These companies do not provide the correct support for either side of the dispute and in aimm’s view it creates impasse.
aimm has encouraged Ofcom to review this situation as part of its review of the two ADR providers.