What is an alternative dispute resolution service?

What Is An Alternative Dispute Resolution Service In this article

When something goes wrong with a product you purchased from a shop, you expect a quick refund or to be able to exchange it without having to jump through too many hoops.

The same applies to your consumers when they employ you. They want to know that any issues with your work, whether they relate to materials, craftsmanship, or personnel, will be resolved as swiftly as possible. Of course your complaints process will kick in, but if you are unable to resolve a complaint to the customer’s satisfaction, as a Which? Trusted trader you are automatically a member of an alternative dispute resolution service.

What is alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution involves employing an independent third party who mediates between the people or organisations in conflict, such as a customer and a trader. The provider helps the two parties negotiate, and can also make a ruling on a particular case after examining all the evidence.

How does it work?                             

If you are in dispute with a customer and your complaints procedure has not resolved the problem, then you can point them towards the alternative dispute resolution scheme. If they are willing to go down that route, the customer can bring the dispute before the ombudsman. The complaint must be instigated by the customer, not the trader.

Customers need to put their complaint in writing and provide evidence to the ombudsman of negligence on the part of the trader in carrying out the work specified in the agreed contract. This means providing written proof in the form of contracts, agreements plus photographic evidence of poor work and so on.

Equally, traders need to supply evidence to support their version of events, in the form of their copy of any contract, agreements, record of conversations, plus photographic evidence of work provided. This is one reason why it is so important to follow procedure when quoting and contracting for work – in the event of a dispute these records are essential.

The independent ombudsman evaluates all the evidence and reaches a resolution.

What are the benefits of belonging to an alternative dispute resolution scheme?

An alternative dispute resolution scheme is usually:

  • more informal and much faster than going to court
  • less daunting and more straightforward than legal action
  • cheaper than court as there are no legal fees
  • confidential and impartial

Which? Trusted Traders work together with an service provider, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), in order to ensure that all our traders have access to an alternative dispute resolution scheme. 

What do I need to do?

It is a legal requirement to let your customers know you have access to this ADR service. You will need to feature the following text on your website and on your terms and conditions:

The business has access to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service for our domestic installation, service, repair and maintenance contracts as part of the Which? Trusted Traders Endorsement.  If you choose to, you can refer your complaint to Which? Trusted Traders’ Alternative Dispute Resolution. You will need to contact Which? Trusted Traders on 02922 670 040 who can explain if you are eligible to use their Alternative Dispute Resolution.