We have published the results of research which reviews complaints handling in regulated sectors which have an ombudsman.
Ombudsman schemes should drive improved complaints handling with companies which are subject to their decisions. There are a number of regulated sectors where ombudsman arrangements have been in place for a number of years, and there are established mechanisms for handling complaints in companies which are subject to ombudsman schemes. This review of complaints handling in other regulated sectors which have an ombudsman in place identifies what lessons and best practice can be learnt and applied to the rail sector.
The review has suggested that complaint handling procedures need to ensure that they address seven essential principles to be effective. These are: (1) transparency; (2) accessibility; (3) effectiveness and efficiency; (4) responsiveness; (5) fairness; (6) accountability; and (7) improvement.
All regulators are engaged in raising the standards of complaint handling in these sectors where this continues to remain ‘work in progress’. Satisfaction levels with complaint handling remain low across a number of regulated sectors as does awareness of ombudsman and other ADR schemes. The report makes a number of recommendations to ORR and train companies designed to drive improvements in complaints handling.
The results of the research have been presented to the industry’s Complaints Working Group. We will now work with the Rail Delivery Group, rail operators, and the Rail Ombudsman to see how any good practices identified in report can be introduced into the rail sector to improve complaints handling.
February 2019 consultation
We published our decision on proposals to modify passenger and station licences to mandate membership of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme to ensure that consumers are given long-term certainty of the ability to obtain a free and binding means of independent redress. We have also published the statutory licence modification notice to mandate membership. Responses from licence holders were due by 26 March 2019.
Annex A: Statutory Notice
26 February 2019
Response to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) consultation and draft wording for licence modification
On 26 July 2018 we published a consultation on our proposals to modify passenger and station licences to mandate membership of the ADR scheme to ensure that consumers are given long-term certainty of the ability to obtain a free and binding means of independent redress. We are now publishing our response to that document together with a draft licence modification. Responses to the draft are due by 18 January 2019. We will then proceed with the statutory notice process to modify the licences.
Responses to this consultation
Consultation on modifying licence condition 6 (complaints handling)
Date published: 26 July 2018
Closing date: 20 September 2018
Following the outcome of our consultation regarding changes complaints handling guidance (see below) we have published a consultation on modifying licence condition 6 to make membership of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme in the rail sector a mandatory requirement. The consultation closes on Thursday 20 September 2018.
Responses to Modification of Passenger Licence Condition 6 (Complaints Handling) – A Consultation
Published 19 December 2018
Changes to complaints handling guidance
Our decision letter details the outcome of our September 2017 consultation regarding the changes necessary to complaints handling guidance to facilitate the introduction of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme in the rail sector (the Rail Ombudsman).
Changes to complaints handling guidance – decision letter
Published 8 February 2018
Our decision is that:
- consumers should be signposted directly to the ADR scheme;
- the time limit for signposting should be eight weeks; and
- we are minded to modify the complaints handling licence condition to require membership of an ADR scheme within six months of scheme commencement and will consult on doing so.
Published 8 February 2018
September 2017 consultation
Date published: 26 September 2017
Closing date: 7 November 2017
Proposals to introduce an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme in the rail sector will require changes to rail companies' Complaints Handling Procedures (CHPs). We have consulted on these changes.
Changes to complaints handling guidance - A consultation
26 September 2017
- We sought views on the organisation(s) to which consumers should be signposted when their complaint is unresolved.
- We set out options for a time limit for informing consumers of their right to go to the ADR scheme.
- We sought views on whether regulatory intervention is necessary to require membership of an ADR scheme.
- We set out clarifications to the existing CHP guidance.
The Rail Minister has been leading discussions regarding the introduction of voluntary binding ADR in the rail sector which builds upon the current advocacy arrangements.
The Rail Delivery Group, working with others as part of an Ombudsman Task Force, has developed proposals which they envisage will see an ADR scheme for rail passengers introduced on a voluntary basis in early 2018.
A new ADR scheme will change the way that rail companies deal with complaints, and require changes to be made to their CHPs. In the consultation document we seek views those changes.