Complaints and disputes: procedural, information provision and reporting requirements
4 - Time limits and escalation of complaints
As required by the Competition and Markets Authority's Unfair contract terms guidance (opens in new tab) licence holders must not unfairly restrict access to complaints procedures by imposing unreasonable time limits for customers to make complaints.
Licence holders should allow customers to raise complaints for at least six months from the date of the incident. Licence holders may wish to encourage customers to make complaints as soon as possible, but may not do this by including terms that prevent consumers from raising complaints at any point during that six month period.
Licence holders should provide customers with an acknowledgement of the complaint. Where licence holders offer 24-hour gambling facilities, this should be within 24 hours of the point when the licence holder receives the complaint. For other licence holders, this should be as soon as reasonably possible. The overall timeframe for operators to deal with complaints is 8 weeks - as required by SR code provision 184.108.40.206.
Licence holders may choose to put in place procedures to escalate the complaint within the business, if the customer is not satisfied with the response they receive when they first make their complaint. As required by social responsibility code provision 220.127.116.11, licence holders must ensure that the entire complaints process, including any internal escalation, takes no longer than eight weeks from when they first received the customer’s complaint.
Social responsibility code provision 18.104.22.168 does make provision for licence holders to depart from the eight week time limit if the customer fails to engage with the complaints process in a timely manner. For example, where a customer fails to respond to a reasonable request for information within seven days, it may be reasonable to ‘stop the clock’ until such time as the customer responds. When the customer has responded, the ‘clock’ should be restarted from the same point as it was stopped.
The licence holder’s complaints process ends if the customer’s complaint remains unresolved eight weeks (taking into account any times that the ‘clock’ on the time period may have been paused) after the licence holder received it, or the customer and the licence holder reach a deadlock or final position in less than eight weeks.
The licence holder should then write to the customer with a final letter to explain:
- the final decision
- that this is the end of the operator’s complaints process
- how to escalate their complaint to an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) entity if they wish to do so.
3 - Complaints handling requirements Next section
5 - ADR requirements