We aim to provide an excellent service to all our customers, but we realise that there will be times when we get things wrong or could do better. We value complaints as these help us improve our services. Sometimes as a result of a complaint we may make changes to policies and procedures.
If someone has cause for complaint we will take their complaint seriously. We will deal with it through our two stage Complaints Process which consists of a Resolution Stage and a Review Stage.
We have produced a separate leaflet for anyone who wishes to use our Complaints Process.
Front line staff will deal with the majority of complaints at the Resolution stage and will be empowered to provide a quick, professional service, responding appropriately to the needs of individuals.
Where a complaint is about a member of staff it will be referred to their line manager for investigation.
Managers will be available to offer advice and guidance and to monitor the quality of responses.
The Leadership Team and Board members will review complaints that are referred beyond the Resolution stage.
Where we have failed to deliver an appropriate level of service we will apologise and put matters right. Sometimes it may be appropriate to offer a payment to address any loss or as a gesture of goodwill in recognition of a service failure (see separate compensation policy).
Where we find we have acted fairly and in line with our policies we will offer a full explanation.
We will ensure that all our staff and Board members are trained in complaint resolution, and staff will also be provided with detailed guidelines and procedures.
We will report on our performance in dealing with complaints to Board quarterly.
We will report on the number, type and outcome of complaints to tenants annually.
How to make a complaint
Anyone who receives a service from us, or who represents such a person can make a complaint. Where someone contacts us on behalf of a customer then we will check to ensure the person is authorised to act on their behalf.
Some minor matters can be resolved very quickly and informally and we would always recommend that customers talk to us first by contacting any member of staff. They will try to resolve the issue immediately. If, however, this isn’t possible or hasn’t worked then a complaint can be reported in any of the following ways;
Calling our Customer Services team on 01904 63601.
Writing to us at 2 Alpha Court, Monks Cross Drive, York YO32 9WN
Speaking to a member of staff whilst on site.
Visiting our website and completing our on line form:
Resolving a complaint
We aim to ensure that our complaints process is simple, straight forward, personal, and fair. We will:
Acknowledge receipt of a complaint within five working days
Give the name and contact details of the person who is dealing with the complaint.
Arrange to speak to the customer over the phone, or meet with them personally if they prefer, to discuss their complaint
Provide a full written response within 15 working days of our acknowledgement letter
Keep in touch with the customer, and tell them if our investigation is going to take longer, explaining why.
Reviewing a complaint
If the customer does not agree with the response to their complaint they can contact us again within 30 days of receiving the response and explain why they feel the matter is not resolved. Their complaint will be referred for review to a complaints panel consisting of a senior manager and two Board members.
The customer will receive a response within 5 working days inviting them to meet with the panel to discuss their complaint. A full written response will be sent out within 15 days of the panel meeting.
When it is not appropriate to deal with a complaint?
Generally we will not progress complaints if;
They are unreasonable
Where unreasonable demands about the outcome are being made
They are anonymous
They are an issue that has already been looked at through our complaints procedure
They are made more than three months after the customer became aware of the problem and should be made as soon as possible.
They are straightforward issues that should be easily dealt with through our normal policies and procedures rather than following the complaints procedure.
A contractor turning up late to carry out a repair would be followed up as a breach of our customer service standards
A concern about a neighbour’s behaviour would be dealt with in line with our anti-social behaviour policy.
Examples of unreasonable complaints or unreasonable demands
The list below provides some examples of unreasonable complaints or unreasonable demands;
Lodging numerous complaints about the same issue over a period of time
Using valid new enquiries or complaints to raise issues that have previously been responded to.
Attempting to submit a new complaint when the matter is clearly about an issue that has already been through our complaints process.
Refusing to accept the stance of YHA in terms of service delivery once the complaints process has been exhausted.
Refusal to accept that an issue is not within the remit of our complaints process.
Demanding outcomes that are unreasonable (eg. dismissal of staff members, overturning court decisions, criminal prosecution of staff or tenants).
Making unnecessarily excessive demands on the time and resources of staff.
Unreasonably refusing to deal with members of staff who ordinarily would deal with the issue.
Canvassing for complaints from other customers
Refusal to co-operate with the complaints process (eg. failing to provide information to help progress the complaint or failing to advise YHA of the customers preferred outcome from the complaint)
Electronically recording meetings, telephone calls and conversations without the prior knowledge, and/or consent of the other persons involved.
Independent external review
If a customer remains dissatisfied after the Review stage they can contact a ‘Designated Person’ who may look into the matter themselves.
‘Designated Persons’ are defined in the Localism Act 2011 as an MP, a local Councillor for the district in which a complainant’s home is located, or a designated tenant panel recognised by the Housing Ombudsman. A ‘Designated Person’ does not have formal authority but will independently review a complaint and may make recommendations to resolve the issue. They can then refer the complaint to the Housing Ombudsman if they feel that they are not able to assist. Our staff will advise the complainant about how to contact the local ‘Designated Person’ or tenant panel.
Alternatively they can wait 8 weeks and contact the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) direct. The HOS is an independent national service that investigates complaints concerning tenants of housing associations and other social landlords.
Housing Ombudsman Service
Monitoring our performance
The Corporate Resources Manager is responsible for allocating complaints for investigation to staff and ensuring that they are dealt with in line with our timescales and procedures. If a customer has any concerns about how their complaint is being dealt with they can contact the Corporate Resources Manager for advice.
Managers are responsible for ensuring the quality of responses.
Reporting our performance
The Head of Housing Services is responsible for reporting on the number, type and outcome of complaints to tenants annually.
The Operations Director is responsible for reporting on the number of complaints, outcomes and performance against timescales to Board on a quarterly basis.