Guidelines for submitting a complaint to the CAO
1. These guidelines explain how the CAO will deal with complaints, including the process that will generally be followed if a Communications Provider or other stakeholder wishes to complain to the CAO about BT’s compliance with the Commitments or the Governance Protocol (hereafter “the Commitments”), and how the CAO will handle any such complaints.
NB: Complaints about Openreach’s compliance with the Commitments should in the first instance be addressed to CMO using the CMO’s guidelines.
2. The guidelines apply only to BT’s compliance with the Commitments, not to BT’s wider compliance and regulatory framework, or to BT’s overall service levels.
3. The process set out in these guidelines is designed to produce efficient and effective resolution of complaints for both the complainant and for BT.
Submission standards and the CAO enquiry phase
4. The CAO will acknowledge all complaints it receives via letter or email within two working days. Each complaint the CAO receives will be subject to initial consideration during an enquiry phase to ensure it meets the CAO’s submission requirements and, if necessary, to seek further and better information in respect of the complaint (see Annex 1 for more details).
5. Having considered each complaint received, the CAO will initiate investigations into a complaint where the complaint meets the following criteria:
(a) The complaint is about compliance with the Commitments, the complainant is able to identify both the specific Commitment or Commitments concerned and the nature of the compliance issue raised.
(b) A senior officer of the Communications Provider or other stakeholder provides a statement supporting the complaint and confirming that the facts submitted are correct and complete to the best of their knowledge.
6. The submission guidance in Annex 1 also makes clear that a CAO investigation will generally be more effective if the complainant:
(a) Has attempted to resolve the issue with an appropriate BT manager, typically in the relevant BT Customer Facing Unit.
(b) Provides reasonable prima facie evidence in support of the complaint.
(c) Where appropriate, provides evidence on any impact of the alleged breach on their business (since this might assist the CAO and BTCC in judging the materiality of the alleged breach).
7. The CAO will aim to complete the enquiry phase within 10 working days of acknowledging the complaint and will inform the complainant whether or not the CAO is opening an investigation.
8. When a complaint, following consideration by the CAO, does not result in an investigation, the CAO will explain its decision to the complainant and, in appropriate circumstances, suggest an alternative means of resolving the issue. For example, a complaint about BT’s regulatory compliance which falls outside the Commitments, may be addressed to BT’s Director of Regulatory Compliance.
9. Complainants have no right to appeal the CAO’s judgment on whether the complaint meets its submission standards, though they are free to resubmit a complaint once it is amended to take into account the CAO’s comments.
Completing an investigation
10. The CAO will issue guidance to the complainant on how long an investigation is likely to take at the conclusion of the enquiry phase. The CAO will aim to complete all investigations within 2 months of opening them. It will issue guidance to the complainant if it is clear at the outset that the investigation will take longer or if it later believes it cannot complete the investigation within 2 months.
11. The CAO will keep the complainant informed about the progress of the complaint on a regular basis. The Manager of the CAO will be the main point of contact for complainants.
The outcome of an investigation
12. The CAO will report its decision to the BTCC, and once the BTCC has noted the decision or responded to the CAO, the CAO will report back to the complainant on the action, if any, taken by the BTCC as a result of the complaint.
13. There are, therefore, a range of possible outcomes to complaints brought to the CAO. The following is an indicative, rather than exhaustive list:
(a) The BTCC has concluded that there are no grounds for action arising from the complaint, since the Commitments are being delivered by BT as required.
(b) The BTCC has concluded that there are no grounds for action since BT has already taken remedial action in response to the Communications Provider’s complaint. Note the BTCC reports findings of breach to Ofcom, even if remedial action has been successfully implemented.
(c) The BTCC has concluded that although BT is complying with the Commitments, it has recommended that BT provide clearer advice to BT people about a particular issue arising from the Commitments or if it has concerns about the culture and behaviors of BT people.
(d) The BTCC has recommended remedial action to BT to ensure compliance with the Commitments.
14. The BTCC (via the CAO) notifies Ofcom of a findings of breach of the Commitments or Governance Protocol. It also notifies the OBARCC if it determines that there has been a breach of the Commitments or Governance Protocol in so far as the breach relates to Openreach.
15. The CAO will inform the complainant of the action, if any, taken by the BTCC as a result of the complaint.
16. If complainants are not satisfied with the CAO’s complaints process, they can submit their complaint to Ofcom at any point during the process.
Format for submitting a complaint to the BTCC
1. Complaints should be submitted in writing to:
The Manager of the Commitments Assurance Office
pp A6, BT Centre
81 Newgate Street
London EC1A 7AJ
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2. The Manager of the CAO can also provide informal advice on how to submit a claim to the CAO or on which alternative complaints procedures are available if the CAO is not an appropriate route.
3. The CAO will inform the part of BT, about whom the complaint is made, of the complaint. The CAO will send appropriate managers of that part of BT a copy of the complaint. If the complaint contains confidential information, the complainant should provide a separate non-confidential version of the complaint.
4. Unless the complainant specifically requests otherwise, the CAO will inform BT of the business name of the complainant. The CAO recognises that in some cases the complainant will wish to remain anonymous (where for example the complainant feels disclosure might prejudice ongoing commercial relations). In such circumstances the complainant must recognise that their anonymity might hinder the effectiveness of the investigation.
5. A submission should contain the following information:
- A summary of the complaint.
- Details of the relevant part or parts of BT relevant to the complaint.
- Details of the complainant’s relationship with BT.
- A contact name of the manager within the complainant with whom the CAO shall liaise in respect of the complaint.
6. The investigation of a complaint is likely to be significantly assisted if the complainant is able to provide additional information along the following lines:
- Confirmation of the BT service, product or process concerned, with particular reference to the specific requirement in the Commitments.
- An explanation of the reasons for the complaint and reasonable prima facie evidence in support.
- Evidence of an attempt to resolve the complaint with a relevant manager in a BT Customer Facing Unit or in BT Group.
- How the complaint has affected the complainant’s business.
- Any solution which the complainant wishes to propose for addressing the complaint.