Our Standards of Service to you.
We are committed to providing excellent customer service and meeting the needs of our customers in a professional manner.
The standards of service you can expect from us are:
COVID-19 and how it affects our service delivery
Delivering excellent customer service is of paramount importance to The Consumer Council, therefore we wanted to let you know about some of the changes that we have had to make as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that may affect our service delivery to you.
NI Direct operate our Free Phone number from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Due to increased call volumes, call waiting times have been impacted, so it may take a little longer than usual for your call to be answered.
If you are having difficulty getting through, we apologise and can assure you that we are working closely with NI Direct to ensure that the issue is being addressed. If you are having difficulty contacting us via our Free Phone number, you can call our reception switchboard on (028) 9025 1600.
All of our staff are working from home and have access to telephones where they can receive direct calls from consumers. If you leave a voicemail, we will try our best to get back to you within 3 hours if left before 4pm. However, due to increased call volumes this may not always be possible and on occasions your call may be returned the next day.
In line with advice from the Executive, our offices are closed and all of our staff are working from home, therefore our offices are not accessible to the public without an appointment.
If you need to meet with a member of our staff, you can contact us by phone or email to arrange an appointment in advance. We want to protect both our staff and members of the public, therefore, visitors to our office must adhere to social distancing guidelines and masks should be worn, unless exempt.
All recommended hygiene measures will be taken to ensure that the meeting room is sanitised in advance of the meeting and hand sanitiser will be available on entering and leaving the office.
- Our staff will be polite and friendly.
- Our staff will be professional at all times.
- Our staff will treat everyone fairly.
Contacting us by telephone
- You can contact us on our Freephone number 0800 121 6022.
- Our telephone lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (except public holidays). We may occasionally have staff training session when calls are diverted to voicemail.
- We will aim to answer 85% of calls to our Freephone number within 20 seconds on average.
- If your call cannot be taken, you will be given the opportunity to leave your name and telephone number on our voicemail - we will call you back within 3 hours.
- If you leave a voicemail after 4pm or outside office hours it will be returned the next working day by a member of our team.
- If your enquiry or complaint appears to be an emergency situation e.g. loss of energy or water supply, we will endeavour to contact the service provider immediately to obtain more information on your behalf and update you accordingly.
- If your enquiry or complaint is about an issue we do not cover, we will give you the contact details of the organisation that can help you.
Contacting us in writing
You can contact us in writing via:
- Website: www.consumercouncil.org.uk
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: @consumercouncil
- Facebook: The Consumer Council Northern Ireland
- Letter to: Freepost THE CONSUMER COUNCIL
We aim to contact you within 3 working days of receiving your correspondence to find out more about your enquiry or complaint, and let you know how we can help.
Contacting us in person
We will provide clean, warm and welcoming facilities.
Our reception will be staffed at all times during normal working hours.
If you have a scheduled appointment, we aim to meet you within 5 minutes of your appointment time. We will inform you as soon as possible if there will be an unavoidable delay.
If you do not have a scheduled appointment and wish to speak to us in person, please visit us at The Consumer Council, Seatem House, 3rd Floor 28‑32 Alfred Street, Belfast, BT2 8EN. Press the buzzer for the 3rd Floor and our receptionist will give you access to the building. There are stairs and a lift up to the third floor. Ring the bell and our receptionist will let you in.
If you arrive without a scheduled appointment, one of our staff will aim to meet you within 15 minutes.
Consumers with particular needs
Additional support has been put in place if you need extra assistance:
- We offer a telephone translation service through Big Word Translation. If you would like to use this service please let our staff know.
- We are also a JAM Card friendly organisation. If you are a JAM card holder, please let a member of our staff know.
- We have induction loops in our office and have a Textphone facility if you have a hearing impairment.
- All of our information on our website is text reader compatible and can be viewed in large text.
- The information on our website is also available in 13 other languages including Arabic, Polish and Mandarin.
- We can also make our publications and guidance available in Braille upon request.
- If the information is not available in the language or format you need, we try our best to meet your needs. For more information on accessing our website visit.
Handling complaints against service providers
- When you first make contact with us we will ask if you have If you have already contacted the service provided about your complaint.This gives them the opportunity to address your concerns and put things right. If you are unable to do this, we can act on your behalf.
- If you are not satisfied with the service provider’s response, we will investigate the matter further. We may need to ask you forfurther information (such as correspondence to/from the service provider)
- Where we think you have a valid complaint we will do everything within our power to help you get a satisfactory resolution. However, we will be honest with you if we think your complaint cannot be resolved to your satisfaction.
- We expect to receive a response from the service provider within 10‑15 working daysdepending on the company (10 working days for energy and water providers, and 15 working days for transport providers).
- We will keep you updated via email, telephone or letter (depending on your preference) on the progress of our investigation, and will let you know if there is going to be a delay in receiving the response.
- A copy of the response will be sent to you within 5 working days from receipt.
- We will allow you the opportunity to review the response, and to provide us with any feedback or queries that may need further investigation.
- We will make further contact with the service provider as necessary with the aim of reaching a satisfactory resolution.
- In the event that we are unable to take your complaint any further, we will fully explain the reasons for this decision before closing your complaint.
- When your complaint has been closed we will send you a Customer Satisfaction Survey via email or post for you to provide feedback on our service.
Monitoring our service standards
Every three months we will publish our performance against our standards of service.
If you are not happy with our service
The Consumer Council is committed to providing you with a high quality service. However there may be occasions when problems arise and you do not receive the service you expect. We would like to know when an issue has arisen so that we can put it right for you and learn from your experience.
If you are unhappy with any aspect of our service you can contact us via the following methods:
- Website: www.consumercouncil.org.uk
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 0800 121 6022
- In Writing: Freepost THE CONSUMER COUNCIL
If you submit a complaint to us we will acknowledge this within 3 working days.
After a full investigation we will explain what happened.
If we have made a mistake, we will apologise and put things right if we can.
If you remain unhappy with the response you receive you can make a formal complaint to our Chief Executive:
Write to: John French, Chief Executive
Freepost THE CONSUMER COUNCIL
If you remain unsatisfied with the level of service from the Consumer Council, you can ask the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman to investigate the handling of your complaint.
Visit www.nipso.org.uk/nipso for more information.