As one year ends and another begins we look at the marketplace in 2019 and reflect on a tremendously exciting and busy year for QASSS and our consumer protection schemes DGCOS, HIES and HICS.

Our Achievements

  • We have transformed our complaint handling and ADR service offering industry-leading speed of resolution, reducing the average time to 3.59 days[1] as compared to the industry average of 80 days[2].
  • Our alternative dispute resolution service (ADR) has been recognised by the 2020 Complaint Handling Awards where we have been shortlisted as finalists in 2 categories – ‘Best Complaint Handling’ and ‘Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year – Initiative’.
  • We’re very proud to have won the ‘Special Moment’ award at the Top Companies for Customer Service awards.
  • We continued the process in 2019 of really getting to know our customers much better, whether out on the road and meeting face-to-face or chatting to them over the phone.
  • In 2019, we refreshed the QASSS site to showcase our remedial management, alternative dispute resolution and complaints handling services for the home improvement sector.
  • We also invested internally to support our network, bringing in senior specialists in the areas of IT, marketing, service delivery and quality assurance to set up the business for the future as well as supporting our members.
  • We announced new partnerships with finance lenders, finance brokers, manufacturers and investors.
  • To provide members with new model documentation for 2020 and legally backed advice, QASSS partnered with West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

Similarly, as we have done, others in the marketplace may be reflecting and evaluating the past 12 months to see what the year ahead might bring. So, what changed in 2019 for alternative dispute resolution (ADR), complaints handling and remedial works management?

Confusion, Gaps and Overlaps Report

Citizen’s Advice released a report on Alternative Dispute Resolution, “Confusion, Gaps and Overlaps”. Three core messages arose from the research:

  • ADR is confusing for consumers
  • The ADR landscape is not designed with consumers’ needs in mind
  • ADR provision is hampered by a lack of good quality data

To read more, we’ve put together a helpful summary of the report.

Justice Delayed: The Case for Shortening the Ombudsman 8-Week Rule

The MoneySavingExpert released a report on Ombudsman services in the UK calling for a shortening of the Ombudsman 8-week rule. The 8-week rule means that many Ombudsman services do not consider a complaint unless the customer has either received a ‘deadlock letter’ or eight weeks have elapsed. The report calls for the eight-week rule to be scrapped whilst putting forward customers’ expectations that complaints should be able to be brought to an Ombudsman within 14-28 days.

Consumer Green Paper

Although published in 2018, we feel it is important to highlight the Consumer Green Paper launched by BEIS, “Modernising Consumer Markets” which covers four key themes:

  1. Getting consumers better deals and better service in utilities markets
  2. Helping consumers benefit from their data and remain protected when they buy and sell online
  3. How to improve the system of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
  4. How to support local and national enforcers to work together to protect consumers

The paper suggests that ADR could be made mandatory for the home improvement and the motor trade.

The next stage of the process is for the Government to consider the responses and potentially publish a white paper (an official set of proposals that is used to develop law). We’ll keep you posted on any further developments.

[1] July 2019 – September 2019 average figures

[2] CTSI Report, 2018

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