What to do if you have a problem with your phone provider

Published: 19 July 2023

While many of us use our landline and mobile phones without any problems, sometimes issues will crop up which will force us to make a complaint.

In some cases, where a complaint cannot be resolved with a provider,  you have a right to use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.

The following explains more about ADR schemes, what they do and when you should contact them.

Initially you need to contact your service provider’s customer services department and explain your problem.

If that doesn’t resolve the issue, then you can make a formal complaint to the company.

You should find details of how to do this on the back of your bill and on their website.

If you can’t find these details, the company’s customer service staff should tell you how to make a formal complaint.

The next step is to take your dispute to the appropriate ADR scheme.

ADR schemes act as an independent middleman between the service provider and the customer when an initial complaint cannot be resolved.

They’re free and open to residential customers as well as small businesses with up to 10 employees.

Examples of complaints the schemes can consider include disputed charges appearing on a bill, refund claims and the handling of a complaint.

If you haven’t reached an agreement with your provider after eight weeks you can ask an ADR scheme to consider the case.

However, you can contact an ADR scheme earlier if your service provider agrees you’re at a stalemate. If this is the case you will need to ask your provider for a deadlock letter which allows you to refer the dispute to the ADR scheme. The complaint must also be less than 9 months old.

It will look at your arguments, and your provider’s, and come to a decision it thinks is fair. If the ADR scheme agrees with your complaint it can order the service provider to fix the problem and, if needed, pay compensation.

There are two ADR schemes: the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) and Communications Ombudsman. All providers must belong to one of the schemes.

Your provider will tell you which scheme it is a member of, or you can use our ADR checker.

Request an alternative format

Call 020 7981 3040, use textphone 020 7981 3043 or write to the Digital team.

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