The Communications Act 2003 places a duty on Ofcom to secure the availability of appropriate dispute resolution procedures. Through General Condition 14.5 we have required all Communications Providers (CPs) to be a member of an approved ADR scheme. We currently approve two such schemes: the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman (Otelo) and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). All CPs are free to choose which of the two ADR schemes they wish to belong to.
Ofcom is also obliged to keep its approval of ADR schemes under review and we have started a review of the performance of both Otelo and CISAS (including the operations, structure and rules of both organisations). This Call for Inputs provides stakeholders with the opportunity to bring to Ofcom's attention any issues that should be considered as part of this review.
We would particularly welcome stakeholders views on whether the ADR schemes were satisfactorily performing against a set of criteria we published, following consultation, in May 2009:
a) Accessibility (ensuring that consumers can easily access all relevant information, are given appropriate support when making a complaint, do not face barriers when trying to make an application to the scheme, and that disabled consumers are not disadvantaged);
b) Independence (ensuring that the schemes have appropriate governance procedures in place and that their member companies do not unduly influence decision making);
c) Fairness (ensuring adjudications are of a high quality, that there are appropriate points of review for cases, that staff are appropriately trained, that there are appropriate internal guidelines in places for how decisions should be reached in particular cases, and that there is consistency between the schemes in how they resolve complaints);
d) Efficiency (the degree to which the schemes deal with complaints in a timely manner, allocate their resources appropriately and are financially sustainable);
e) Transparency (the extent to which decisions and the decision making process is clear to consumers and CPs);
f) Effectiveness (ensuring the jurisdiction of the two schemes are closely aligned and that the schemes have appropriate procedures in place to monitor the implementation of decisions and compliance with rules); and
g) Accountability (reviewing KPIs to make sure they are appropriately targeted, examining the level of reporting against KPIs to Ofcom and the public, and aligning the recording and reporting systems of the two schemes to enable direct comparisons on issues being dealt with).
We would also welcome any insights stakeholders may have on other areas of performance as well as any issues of consistency between the two schemes.
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