Our 3 Stage Process:

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What are the benefits of QASSS ADR?

It’s fast

In 2019, QASSS speed of resolution 3.59 days compared to the UK average ADR resolution of 80 days (According to the CTSI ADR Report 2018).

It’s financially advantageous

We resolve 98.4% of disputes without referral to Ombudsman or the need for court proceedings, saving time and money.

It’s fair

Alternative Dispute Resolution uses expert third party mediators, to find a resolution, without emotion and based on facts.

It’s flexible

The outcome of Alternative Dispute Resolution and how it applies to strict rules of law is often relatively flexible meaning that it could achieve results that a court could not order.

It’s free for consumers

We believe that customers should have access to a free, robust ADR service and therefore provide customers with free mediation, free Independent Inspections to assist with installation or product malfunctions (at our discretion) and free access to an independent Ombudsman to help resolve any issues that may arise.

How We Work

We ensure our services are widely accessible and ensure that our decisions are made on what is fair and reasonable.

We would always suggest that the consumer also goes through the QASSS appointed Ombudsman before commencing action in the courts. All of our dispute resolution services are free of charge to consumers.

Our ADR officials act with impartiality and we aim to reach a quick resolution to the dispute or complaint. They are appointed on a permanent basis and selected based on skills and knowledge.

When we make a decision, we take into account:

  • both sides of the story;
  • regulatory rules, guidance and standards;
  • our codes of practice (this is only applicable to HIES), relevant law and regulations;
  • what is accepted as good industry practice.

If the consumer chooses not to accept our decision, their (the complainant) legal rights remain unaffected and they can take the matter to court – subject to any requirements set by the courts.

Before we can accept your complaint you must give the company a reasonable opportunity to resolve it. If you receive the company’s final position on the complaint (deadlock) and you remain unhappy, or eight weeks pass and the complaint remains unresolved, we may be able to help.

There are, however, some reasons why we will not accept complaints. These include:

  • the customer has not first attempted to resolve the complaint directly with the trader;
  • the dispute is frivolous or vexatious;
  • the dispute is currently being, or has in the past been, considered by another ADR scheme or court;
  • the value of the claim exceeds the maximum value of an award that we can make;
  • the company was not a member of one of our schemes during the period the work was carried out;
  • the customer has not submitted the dispute within the required time and;
  • dealing with the dispute would seriously impair the effective operation of our schemes.

Initial complaint submissions can be written in any language that can be translated by Google Translate. Our responses, however, will be in English only.

Our procedures can be conducted by both oral and written means, in English.

We will accept cross-border complaints, which is where the trader and consumer reside in different countries.

Consumers can be represented or assisted by a third party.

Consumers do not need to get any independent advice from a solicitor to access our services.

If we accept your complaint we will decide the best way to resolve it and will aim to find a resolution that both you and the company agree on.

The legal effect of the outcome of our procedure is binding on our members, not on the consumer.

You can withdraw from the process at any point. In exceptional circumstances, where QASSS or the Ombudsman considers it necessary (as a matter of sole discretion) a site visit, expert report or a face-to-face meeting (or hearing) may be arranged.

Consumers can request all the documents we hold in relation to their complaint.

If one of the parties has sought to deliberately mislead us on a matter relating to the existence or non-existence of one of the grounds for refusing to deal with the dispute, we retain the right to immediately refuse to deal with the dispute any further, even after the three-week deadline has passed.

Mediation and conciliation are voluntary dispute resolution processes in which a ‘neutral person’ helps the parties try to reach a settlement, preferably a negotiated settlement. The ‘neutral person’ could be an officer of QASSS or someone appointed by QASSS to discuss the problems with both parties to try to reach an agreement without the need to progress to the Ombudsman. Mediation and conciliation are both designed to bring the matter to a speedy conclusion but may not provide the final and binding resolution of a dispute.

The mediator/conciliator may, at any time, deem it necessary to instruct an independent inspector to carry out a forensic defect analysis report concerning an installation undertaken by the Trade Member. The report may then be used by the mediator/conciliator to further the mediation/conciliation process in an attempt to reach an agreed resolution between the parties. For transparency, copies of the forensic defect analysis report will be supplied to all parties in the dispute with each party being given time to review the contents prior to continuation of the mediation/conciliation process.

When we make a decision, we take into account:

  • both sides of the story;
  • regulatory rules, guidance and standards;
  • our codes of practice (this is only applicable to HIES), relevant law and regulations;
  • what is accepted as good industry practice.

If the consumer chooses not to accept our decision, their legal rights remain unaffected and they can take the matter to court – subject to any requirements set by the courts. We would always suggest that the consumer also goes through the QASSS appointed Ombudsman before commencing action in the courts.

If one of the parties has sought to deliberately mislead us on a matter relating to the existence or non-existence of one of the grounds for refusing to deal with the dispute, we retain the right to immediately refuse to deal with the dispute any further, even after the three-week deadline has passed.

  • consumers have the choice as to whether or not to agree to, or follow the proposed solution;
  • participation in the procedure does not prevent the possibility of seeking redress through court proceedings;
  • the proposed solution may be different from an outcome determined by a court applying legal rules; and
  • the scheme rules are that this agreement is binding on the member but not on the consumer.

QASSS has appointed The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman to investigate and resolve any disputes between members and their customers that may not have been resolved at an earlier stage.

The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman are one of the UK’s leading independent multi-sector Ombudsman and are approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies to provide redress schemes.

The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman provide independent dispute resolution across various sectors such as furniture, home improvements and rail travel.

The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform is provided by the European Commission to allow consumers and traders in the EU or Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein to resolve disputes relating to online purchases of goods and services without going to court. The ODR platform is not linked to any trader. You can use it to take your complaint to an approved dispute resolution body.

The ODR platform is easy to use and takes users through the dispute resolution process in a step-by-step fashion. It provides translations in all EU languages and has inbuilt time limits for resolving complaints.

For full details and/or to register a complaint on the ODR platform please visit the dedicated website.

To find out how we can help you, please contact us:

A trusted partner

Building on our heritage as a leading consumer protection and membership organisation in the home improvement sector, our dispute resolution process is Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved and we have over 10 years’ experience helping businesses and consumers alike. We provide industry-leading expertise and continually work to improve services and standards across the sector.

Contact us to see how we can help your business.