David Clifton: Licensing Expert – Don’t forget to read the new “Complaints & Disputes” guidance

David Clifton

UK licensed B2C gambling operators are all hopefully aware of the LCCP changes that come into effect on 31 October. If not, they have a range of options to find out more before it’s too late, for example:

  • the Gambling Commission has published on its website a summary of the key changes, originally announced in August,
  • it has also now posted a 5-minute YouTube video explaining what the changes  will mean for operators and how, in the Commission’s view, consumers will be better protected and
  • if all else fails, they can re-read my Licensing Expert article for SBC News on the same subject entitled More of the same with yet more to come.

What might have slipped a little more under the radar is that tying in with the updated complaints process requirements introduced by the LCCP changes, what will also come into effect on 31 October, are:

In many respects, those two documents complement each other, although it’s true to say that whilst the former is directed fairly and squarely at operators to guide them on handling complaints and disputes in line with the Commission’s expectations, the latter is more focused on ADR providers.

Nevertheless, they are both worth a thorough read by operators’ compliance, social responsibility and customer relations teams, not least to ensure that their complaints handling policies and procedures are fully updated and implemented in line with amended LCCP social responsibility code provision 6.1.1.

Key new aspects within the guidance note include the following:

  1. From 31 October 2018 operators must have arrangements in place for their customers to be able to refer any dispute to an ADR provider if they have been unable to resolve the dispute within 8 weeks of receiving it.
  2. Operators must also take account of any applicable learning or guidance that the Gambling Commission publishes, and change their policies and procedures as necessary.
  3. An expectation exists on the part of the Commission that operators will, amongst other things:
    1. accept complaints made in person, over the telephone or via email where such facilities exist, or via third party intermediaries/support tools such as the Resolver web tool,
    2. as required by CMA’s Unfair contract terms guidance, not impose unreasonable time limits for customers to make complaints,
    3. provide the customer with written confirmation that they have reached the end of the complaints procedure at the end of eight weeks after receiving the initial complaint (or sooner, if the end of the complaints process is reached sooner), with information about how to escalate the case to ADR, and
    4. respond to enquiries from ADR providers within 10 working days of receiving the request.

The guidance note goes on to set out the ADR requirements, the complaints-related information that must be provided to customers and the Commission’s requirements in relation to information reporting. Further useful information is on the Commission’s website.

In order to assist operators, the Gambling Commission has kindly authorised SBC News to reproduce below its flowchart (included within the “Complaints and disputes” guidance) illustrating the complaint process timescales that will apply with effect from 31 October:

 

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David Clifton – Director – ‎Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited

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