The UK Gambling Commission published on Thursday, July 21 a list of tips on how to handle complaints, with the aim to remind licensees of existing rules and guidance. This comes after a review of complaints policies was conducted that found a number of areas needing improvement.
A total of 34 licensee complaints policies was reviewed by the Commission, from a range of sectors, and looked at how accessible and easy they were to use. This work was referenced in the UKGC's 2021/22 business plan to "explore how to improve how licensees deal with consumers when things go wrong."
Aside from that, the work shall also complement the Government's review of the Gambling Act, which includes looking at how to improve consumer redress arrangements in the gambling industry.
The White Paper on gambling reform has recently been postponed for the fourth time after the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The UKGC said: "Our data publication, Understanding consumer complaints highlighted that 8% of gamblers had ever made a complaint. A further 4% reported that they wanted to make a complaint but didn't. Our qualitative research explored some possible reasons for this, one of which included the perception that it is a tedious process, and that the licensee may be purposefully difficult to reach.
While most of the policies we reviewed met the basic requirements imposed on gambling licences, there were still areas where licensees could make improvements in their complaints handling. This will help make the process easier and more accessible for consumers."
Director of Policy at the Commission Ian Angus says, "Good complaints handling is vital in the gambling industry. We want consumers to be able to easily find and understand policies and be able to raise their complaints without any barriers. We know gambling businesses receive around 200,000 complaints every year, and while the Government's review of the Gambling Act will consider where these can be escalated to, the majority will still need to go through the licensee's complaints process first. We want to help them handle these well, to improve outcomes for both them and consumers".
UKGC has issued the following tips to help licensees improve their complaint handling.
Good practice complaints handling: tips for licensees
- include a link to your complaints procedure on your homepage
- use plain English and avoid jargon or legalese
- have a short and clear process for complaints
- tell people what information you need to investigate their complaint
- include details of the 8-week time limit for resolving complaints or issuing a final response
- be clear when you have given a final decision or reached ‘deadlock'
- include clickable links and check that they work
- utilize technology, such as webforms and decision-trees, to help guide people through the complaints process but always have alternative methods of contact available
- be accessible for all, including vulnerable people, and make adjustments where required
- keep a virtual paper-trail
- utilize Resolver and other consumer support tools
- provide clear signposting to ADR providers