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Check how we deal with your complaints

This advice applies to England

This complaints process will be used if you got advice or tried to get advice from us, including:

  • at your local Citizens Advice
  • over the phone
  • by talking to us online
  • by writing to us

If you’re complaining about your local Citizens Advice, they can usually still advise you. If they can’t, they’ll try to find a different adviser or, if appropriate, a different organisation to help you.

There’s a different process if you’re complaining about:

  • the Consumer Service - check their complaints process
  • the Witness Service - they’ll let you know how they deal with complaints
  • Pension Wise - they’ll let you know how they deal with complaints
  • national Citizens Advice - we’ll let you know how we deal with complaints

If you haven’t got advice from us

You’re a ‘third party’ if you haven’t:

  • got advice from us
  • tried to get advice from us

If you’re a third party and you’re complaining about your local Citizens Advice, the process is mostly the same - we’ll say where it’s different.

Making your complaint

If you want to complain about your local Citizens Advice, you can contact your local Citizens Advice and say you want to complain.

For all types of complaints, you can complain to our Client Services team.

How we handle aggressive behaviour

It can be stressful to make a complaint, but we won’t accept poor treatment while dealing with your complaint, including:

  • aggressive behaviour
  • abusive language or swearing
  • unreasonable demands - like demanding that someone talks to you immediately

If you send abusive letters or emails, we will return them to you unread or delete them. If you’re aggressive when talking to a member of staff or a volunteer, they will end the conversation.

If you’re seriously or repeatedly abusive we might refuse to deal with your complaint.

Solving the problem informally

Your local Citizens Advice might offer to talk through your problem informally instead of starting the formal complaint process. Talking through your problem might be quicker and less stressful.

If you don’t want to talk informally or it doesn’t help, your local Citizens Advice will deal with your problem as a formal complaint.

Step 1: Your local Citizens Advice investigates your complaint

The Chief Officer will usually investigate. If your complaint is about the Chief Officer, the Chair of the Board of Trustees will investigate.

Your local Citizens Advice will usually send you a formal reply within 8 weeks - 3 weeks if you’re a third party. They’ll let you know if it’s going to take longer.

Step 2: Ask for the reply to be reviewed

If you’re not happy with the reply to your complaint, you can ask our Client Services team to review it.

You can find out how to ask for a review in the reply to your complaint - you should ask within 4 weeks of getting the reply.

When you ask for a review, explain which parts of the investigation or reply you’re not happy with.

Our Client Services team will send you an email within 5 days of getting your request for a review telling you what will happen next.

If you’re a third party

If you’re a third party, your local Citizens Advice will review your complaint instead of our Client Services team.

The Chair of the Board of Trustees will check that:

  • your complaint was investigated properly
  • the reply responded to all the issues you raised
  • the reply was fair and reasonable

The review decision is final.

If you’re complaining about immigration advice

You can ask our Client Services team to review the reply or you can take your complaint to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).

You should complain to the OISC within 12 months of getting the advice if you can.

Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)
5th Floor
21 Bloomsbury Street
London
WC1B 3HF

Tel: 0345 000 0046
Fax: 020 7211 1553
Email: info@oisc.gov.uk
Website: http://oisc.homeoffice.gov.uk/

Calls usually cost up to 55p a minute from mobiles and up to 9p a minute from landlines. It should be free if you have a contract that includes calls to landlines - check with your supplier if you're not sure.

If you’re complaining about advice about debt or your credit record

You can ask our Client Services team to review the reply or you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The Financial Ombudsman Service can only review your complaint if either:

  • you’ve got a reply to your complaint from your local Citizens Advice

  • your local Citizens Advice doesn’t respond within 8 weeks of you making a complaint

Find out how to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service on their website.

If you’re complaining about how we’ve used your data

You can ask our Client Services team to review the reply or you can take your complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Information Commissioner's Office (England, Wales and Scotland)
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Helpline: 0303 123 1113 (Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 4.30pm)
Tel: 01625 545 745
Fax: 01625 524 510

Email: casework@ico.org.uk
Website: www.ico.org.uk

Calls usually cost up to 40p a minute from mobiles and up to 10p a minute from landlines. It should be free if you have a contract that includes calls to landlines - check with your supplier if you’re not sure.

If you’re complaining about our fundraising

You can ask our Client Services team to review the reply or you can take your complaint to the Fundraising Regulator.

Find out how to complain to the Fundraising Regulator on their website.

How we review your complaint

Our Client Services team reviews the complaint investigation on behalf of our Chief Executive.

The review will check that:

  • your complaint was investigated properly
  • the reply responded to all the issues you raised
  • the reply was fair and reasonable

Our Client Services team will usually finish its review and tell you their decision within 8 weeks of getting your request for a review.

Step 3: Ask for a review by someone outside Citizens Advice

If you’re still not happy after a review, you can ask for another review by someone outside Citizens Advice - an ‘independent adjudicator’. If you’re a third party, you can’t ask for a review by an independent adjudicator.

You can find out how to ask for a review by an independent adjudicator in the review outcome letter - you should ask within 4 weeks of getting the review outcome.

If you ask for a review by an independent adjudicator, explain which parts of the first review you’re not happy with.

The independent adjudicator will contact you and tell you how long they expect to take.

The independent adjudicator’s decision is final.

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