Dispute resolution


Dispute resolution logoCommunications firms that provide services to consumers and small businesses must be members of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.

ADR schemes act as an independent middleman between you and the firm, when your initial complaint cannot be resolved. You do not need legal help to take your case to an ADR scheme.

The ADR scheme will look at your arguments, and your provider's, and reach a decision it thinks is fair. Usually an ADR scheme reaches a decision within six weeks, but more complex cases can take longer.

If the ADR scheme agrees with your complaint, it can order the service provider to fix the problem, make a payment to you, or take other steps. The ADR scheme's decision is final and cannot be appealed or overturned. However, if you choose not to accept this decision, you can still seek legal advice.

What are the ADR schemes?

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

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

You can also use free online services and apps such as Resolver.co.uk* for advice on your complaints.

If your provider does not belong to an ADR scheme but you believe they should, fill out our complaint form.

ADR schemes are independent of Ofcom and providers. If you have used either scheme and are unhappy with the service you have received, you can complain to Ombudsman Services or complain to CISAS. An independent assessor might look at your complaint, but they cannot overturn the final decision made by the ADR scheme.

ADR schemes' performance

In the statement concluding our 2017 Review of CISAS and OS (PDF, 331.9 KB), we committed to publish both schemes’ key performance indicator (KPI) results on a quarterly basis. This ensures that stakeholders have greater awareness of, and can scrutinise, the schemes’ performances.

The KPIs that we measure and the schemes' performances for each quarter from Q2 2018 is recorded below:

OS performance against KPIs

KPI

Q2 2018

(April – June)

Q3 2018

(July – September)

Q4 2018

(October – December)

Q1 2019

(January – March)

More than 80% of calls to be answered in less than two minutes

91%

86%

85%

85%

More than 90% of calls to be answered in less than five minutes

99%

98%

98%

98%

100% of written correspondence to be replied to within ten days

100%

100%

100%

100%

More than 90% of case decisions** to be issued within six weeks of the case being accepted

98%

97%

98%

96%

Less than 1% of case decisions** to be issued later than eight weeks after the case has been accepted

<1%

<1%

<1%

<1%

CISAS performance against KPIs

KPI

Q2 2018

(April – June)

Q3 2018

(July – September)

Q4 2018

(October – December)

Q1 2019

(January – March)

More than 80% of calls to be answered in less than two minutes

100%

99%

100%

100%

More than 90% of calls to be answered in less than five minutes

99%

100%

100%

100%

100% of written correspondence to be replied to within ten days

100%

100%

100%

100%

More than 90% of case decisions** to be issued within six weeks of the case being accepted

96%

90%

86%

96%

Less than 1% of case decisions** to be issued later than eight weeks after the case has been accepted

<1%

<1%

1%

1%

*Ofcom does not in any way endorse or promote services provided by third parties such as Resolver, and accepts no responsibility for such services’ handling of your matter.

**It should be noted that due to the schemes’ differing processes, the decisions issued for CISAS represent their final decision whereas, for OS, it represents the point at which an initial decision is issued.