COVID-19 update

Our office is currently not open to visitors. We are responding to emails and are operating a limited telephone service for complaints related enquiries. Our Scottish Welfare Fund review service is available by telephone as normal. Please read our information for customers and organisations.

How we handle complaints

This is what happens to your complaint when you decide to bring it to our office. If you have any questions about any part of this process, or if you’re not sure whether we can look at your complaint, please feel free to contact us.

Step 1 You complain to us

Once you have gone through the organisation's complaints procedure you can then ask us if we can look at your complaint. You can do this by filling out our complaints form. Please also send us copies of any relevant paperwork, in particular the final response you received from the organisation.

Step 2 First checks

When we get your complaint we will make some checks to confirm:

  • it is about a subject and organisation we can look at
  • it has gone through the right complaints procedure
  • it has arrived at our office within 12 months of when the issues in your complaint happened
  • it has enough detail and paperwork for us to get to work on it

When we assess that the matter is one we are allowed to look at and is in our jurisdiction, we will start gathering the information we will need for an investigation.

Some cases that could be investigated are closed at this stage if we are able to resolve them with the organisation, or if we consider there would be no significant benefit - or achievable outcome - from a full investigation. 

Step 3 Complaint investigation

If we think we can look at your complaint, one of our complaints reviewers will then contact you. They will talk to you about the wording of your complaint, and will you will both agree on the issues that will be looked into. They will collect information from both yourself and the organisation you have complained about in order to reach their final decision on the complaint. They will keep your complaint private and will only tell the people who need to know about it.

Please note that due to the current impact of COVID-19, we estimate that there may be a delay allocating your complaint to a Complaints Reviewer for further consideration of around eleven months.

Step 4 Decision

Before we make our final decision on your complaint, we will either send you and the organisation our provisional decision or share a draft of our public investigation report. This is your opportunity to tell us if we have relied on inaccurate information, or if you have new information that you think changes our provisional views. We will make a final decision taking into account any comments.

We're likely to publish information about it, to share learning, but this won't include your name.

Review requests

If you are unhappy with our decision there are very specific circumstances where you can request a review. The Ombudsman generally looks at all review requests. She will only change a decision if you:
• send new information, and/or
• demonstrate information we used was wrong, and/or
• demonstrate we made a mistake
• it has an impact on the original decision.

She will not change a decision simply because you disagree with it.

Customer service complaints

If you are unhappy with our service, please tell us.  You have the right to complain if you feel we are not meeting our customer service standards. We take complaints about our service very seriously and have a special procedure for dealing with them. 

Working with us: respecting each other

We are committed to providing a fair and accessible service. We believe that everyone who contacts us has the right to be treated with respect and dignity.

We will do our best to engage with you positively and use the best method for you.  

Tell us if something is going wrong

  • We want to fix problems and to know if you are unhappy. 
  • Please tell us; we will check what we have done against our standards and make changes if we can.

Remember we are people too

  • Our staff have the same rights to be treated with respect and dignity as our users, and we must provide a safe working environment for them.
  • We must also provide a service to all our customers.

This means we need to handle any situation or actions which could have a negative impact on our staff or our ability to work. We may need to speak with you about this or we may need to change the way we engage with you. If this happens, we will explain what we are doing and why. Details of our policy about this can be found here, or we can send you a copy of this policy on request.

Updated: January 14, 2022