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 eight 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. 

Communicating positively

• 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 also believe that our staff have the same rights, and we must provide a safe working environment for our staff.

• We must also ensure the efficient and effective operation of our service to all our customers.

Our unacceptable actions policy explains how we address unacceptable actions towards our staff.  This can be found here, or we can send you a copy of this policy on request.

Our policy sets out the kinds of actions and behaviour that may have a negative effect and what we will do if this occurs. 

We recognise that some people may have difficulties in expressing themselves or communicating clearly, especially when anxious or upset. We also understand that some people may find it difficult to identify what impact their behaviour might have on other people. We will always consider making reasonable adjustments if we are asked to do so - but we may still use the policy if actions or behaviours are having a negative effect on our staff or our work.

Updated: August 19, 2021