Ofcom launches telecoms dispute review

Ofcom has launched a review of the processes and schemes that people can use to resolve disputes with telecoms providers.

At present, customers can escalate their complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme if they are unhappy with the response of their current provider or if their case remains unresolved after eight weeks.

The ADR scheme can be accessed for free, and Ofcom currently approves two ADR schemes: the Communications Ombudsman and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS).

All telecoms providers offering services to consumers and small businesses must be a member of one of these schemes.

This review will consider whether consumers and small businesses are receiving accessible, fair and consistent outcomes from this ADR process. At this stage, the regulator is inviting views on the planned scope of its review.

To inform its review, Ofcom is planning to carry out consumer research looking at people’s experience of using the two ADR schemes. It will also review a sample of cases from both schemes to assess the effectiveness, fairness and consistency of decision-making within and between them.

The regulator will also issue formal information requests to providers and the ADR schemes.

Responses to Ofcom’s initial review should be submitted by 10 January 2024, with the regulator planning to consult on any changes that may be needed by Autumn 2024.