What do I need to do?
It is a legal requirement to let your customers know you have access to this ADR service. From 1st September you will need to feature the following text on your website and on your terms and conditions:
As a Which? Trusted Trader we have a range of support services available to us and our customers. One of these services is access to an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service, which enables our customers to seek an impartial review of a complaint in the unlikely event that we are unable to resolve it between ourselves.
This is a free service for the customer, offered by Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, an approved government scheme. Further information about the Ombudsman can be found at http://www.disputeresolutionombudsman.org/whichtrustedtraders/ or by telephoning them on 0333 241 3209
Why is this change happening?
Which? Trusted Traders have reviewed their ombudsman service membership as the scheme has grown. It makes sense to use the ombudsman service provider that is the best fit for Which? Trusted traders, whose ombudsman team will understand traders and the pressures they face. Dispute Resolution Ombudsman has a long history of working with traders. They have good working relationships with industry bodies and understand how traders work.
How can Dispute Resolution Ombudsman help me and my business?
If you have an unresolved dispute with a customer and you have exhausted your own complaints handling procedure, you can direct the customer to raise the issue with Dispute Resolution Ombudsman. Around 45 cases have been put before the ombudsman so far in 2016. This is a tiny percentage of the overall transactions between customers and traders on the scheme, but it provides a cheaper, faster and less daunting alternative to court proceedings if necessary.
Dispute Resolution Ombudsman will appoint one of their professionally qualified ADR team to assess all claims on an impartial basis at no cost to you, and your customers. Any resolution decided upon by Dispute Resolution Ombudsman is binding and if the award is accepted by the customer it becomes a full and final settlement. This means that they cannot make any further claim against you in relation to that particular complaint.
Having access to an alternative dispute resolution scheme should reassure your customers that in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, there is a procedure in place to resolve any dispute that cannot be covered by your own complaints procedure.