Ombudsman Services | July 29 2020
On 14 July 2020 we hosted our first virtual sector liaison panel (SLP) for communications providers.
Representatives of 25 of our participating companies attended the webinar, in which we gave a business and finance update and set out our initial approach to Covid 19-related complaints, focusing on three areas:
Communications ombudsman Michael Waldron described how lockdown had demonstrated the ever-growing importance of broadband, landline and mobile services in people’s everyday lives. He said;
Michael Waldron, Ombudsman Team
Leanne Proctor, communications sector expert, added that lockdown, during which many people were reliant on broadband and phone services for home working and home schooling, had added to a growing consensus that telecoms services are essential.
In the session it was discussed how providers have been impacted to varying degrees by the pandemic and lockdown. While some have continued to operate and handle complaints in a relatively normal way, despite the challenges of remote working and resource issues, others have struggled to maintain service levels for a variety of reasons.
Michael Waldron explained that, when making decisions, Ombudsman Services will consider both customer circumstances and the challenges that providers have faced – ensuring that each case is judged on its own merits. He added that there will be no “blanket approach.”
Following on from the previous point, Leanne Proctor re-iterated throughout the session that, when submitting a case file, providers should include specific detail and relevant evidence on how exactly the pandemic and lockdown had been a factor in a complaint.
It wouldn’t be enough, she added, to simply attribute a shortfall in customer service to Covid-19 without adding detail.
Jonathan Lenton, head of the ombudsman team at Ombudsman Services, had this message for providers;
Jon Lenton, Head of Ombudsman
As Michael Waldron explained, at Ombudsman Services we are only just starting to make decisions on Covid-19 related complaints – due partly to the 8-week rule and resulting time lag in complaints reaching us.
While we have seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 related complaints reaching us in recent weeks, it’s too early to say how sustained and significant this trend will be.
Quite simply, we don’t yet know the true impact of the pandemic and lockdown on consumers, microbusinesses and the telecoms complaints landscape.
We will, however, endeavour to keep communications providers updated and informed as the full picture emerges and our stance on Covid-19 related complaints becomes settled and established.
As Jonathan Lenton said;
Jon Lenton, Head of Ombudsman
Find out more If you are a member of our scheme, you should have already received the presentation slides and other information from the day, including factsheets on our initial stance on Covid-19 related complaints.
If you haven’t received this information, you can request it by emailing our Relationships team at OSAccountManagers@Ombudsman-Services.org.
Click here to access our library of guidance notes for member companies.