Complaints from Motherwell residents to ombudsmen soar

Motherwell residents are quick to complain if they receive poor service
Motherwell residents are quick to complain if they receive poor service

Motherwell residents made almost 38,000 complaints to ombudsmen about shoddy service they had received last year.

However, despite this already being more than one complaint per head of the town’s 32,000 population it is estimated this figure could have more than doubled.

Ombudsman Services believes around 39,000 more complaints could have been made, meaning people are missing out on compensation or having the problem fixed.

According to the company, which resolves complaints that have been ongoing for more than eight weeks, residents made 731 complaints about their energy suppliers alone last year, up by 52 per cent from those in 2014.

The most common gripes relate to billing issues, or problems with transfers. The company also recorded a further 163 complaints about communications firms.

Ombudsman Services’ third annual Consumer Action Monitor recently revealed that there were 52 million complaints in the UK last year, but there were still 66 million issues that were not acted on.

In Scotland, there were 5.1 million complaints, but 6.2 million issues were brushed under the carpet.

Chief ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said: “We’re still seeing consumers ignore millions of problems each year because they’d rather suffer in silence than go through the perceived hassle of complaining – but it’s not as complex and time-consuming as they might think.

“At a time when it is becoming more expensive to take court action, alternative dispute resolution, including ombudsmen, is an important and growing part of the civil justice system as a whole.

“Those that live in Motherwell are actively standing up for their consumer rights, but there’s still more that can be done by businesses to make ADR more accessible.

“Complaining doesn’t have to mean making a fuss – there’s help out there and we would encourage anyone with an issue to come forward.”

Consumers must contact their supplier directly in the first instance before they can escalate the complaint to the ombudsman.

Anyone who experienced bad service has the right to complain, but it can be daunting.

To make things easier, Ombudsman Services has pulled together some tips:

1. Firstly identify what you want to achieve, have a clear idea of what it is you want to achieve from complaining.

2. Don’t get emotional – keep your anger in check and don’t get mad. Be assertive without being aggressive.

3. Don’t be embarrassed – it’s your right to complain if you’re not satisfied.

4. Admit your part in the problem if you have any fault.

5. Address one complaint at a time, ensure what you say is clear and fair.

6. Keep records of all correspondence, paperwork, bills and receipts, if asked to send them anywhere make sure you send photocopies and keep originals.

7. If you’re not getting results complaining directly to the company, identify the person or organisation who has the power to make changes and help

8. If your complaint has not been resolved quickly (normally within eight weeks), you can take your complaint to an organisation like Ombudsman Services.

If you have been deadlocked in a dispute for more than eight weeks you can get help online