How to resolve a complaint – guidelines for all those who come into contact with Perennial
Perennial – Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society is the UK’s only charity dedicated to helping people who work in horticulture, when times get tough. We welcome comments and observations about the way we deal with our clients and supporters, and the way we conduct our business, and encourage you to contact us if you have any comments on how we may improve.
We aim to treat any complaint about any aspect of our service or business in a professional, impartial, timely, open and honest way. We aim to treat every complainant with respect and we expect equal consideration to be shown in return as we try to resolve the issue that has caused the complaint to be made.
Perennial complies with a number of regulatory and non-regulatory bodies’ guidance regarding complaints including the Charity Commission, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Fundraising Regulator and will cooperate fully in any investigation held by them following a complaint about Perennial’s activities.
What is a complaint?
We seek and receive feedback on the full range of our activities from the services we provide; to the marketing, fundraising and sales activities we undertake to promote and fund our work. This feedback, both negative and positive, is essential in order to help us continually improve our work. However, we consider something a complaint if it is a criticism that expects a reply and requires action or changes to be made. A complaint can also include an expression of dissatisfaction which is capable of becoming a complaint. If there is any doubt that a communication is a complaint we will ask you if you wish it to be lodged as a complaint.
How are complaints made?
Complaints can be raised formally or informally, in person, by telephone, letter, or email. Perennial will accept complaints from persons acting on another’s behalf as long as the third party has been authorised to do so by the person concerned.
Once received, your complaint will then be forwarded immediately to the relevant person in Perennial to be dealt with:
- Director of Services (also the FCA Compliance Officer) – any aspect of the casework or debt advice service
- Director of Marketing & Fundraising– any complaints relating to marketing or fundraising, including publicity
- Director of Finance – any other complaint
If the complaint is about a Director, the complaint will be forwarded immediately to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), or if the complaint is about the CEO, it will be forwarded to the Chairman of Perennial. The person receiving the complaint then becomes the Investigating Officer until the complaint is resolved.
We will acknowledge your complaint within five working days of initial receipt. The acknowledgement will provide early reassurance that the complaint has been received and is being dealt with, notify you of the name, position and contact details of the person investigating the complaint, and explain the complaints procedure.
Once the complaint has been investigated to a standard the Investigating Officer is satisfied with, the findings should be reported back to you in writing. This should be completed within ten working days of the receipt of complaint. Where the complaint is more complex, or cannot be investigated within the timeframe due to business reasons (eg a key member of staff is unavailable), we will send an explanatory holding response advising that additional time is required to investigate the complaint and indicating the timescale.
If the complaint concerns FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulated activity (ie debt advice) the Investigating Officer (the FCA Compliance Officer) will provide a final response within eight weeks or a further explanatory letter advising of the details for the further delay. This letter will tell you that you are entitled to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if you are not satisfied with the delay. If the complaint concerns a fundraising activity the Investigating Officer will provide a final response within 28 days of the acknowledgement of your complaint. This letter will tell you that you are entitled to contact the Fundraising Regulator if you are not satisfied with our response, providing you do so within two months of our response.
The letter from the Investigating Officer will give the name and contact details of Perennial’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who you can write to if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint. This request should be made in writing within 14 days. The CEO will aim to respond within 14 days.
If the complaint concerns Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated activity (ie debt advice) and you are not satisfied with our response, you can pursue the complaint via the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) within six months of the date of our letter. Our letter will give you details of how to contact the FOS.
If the complaint concerns a fundraising activity and you are not satisfied with our response, you can pursue the complaint via the Fundraising Regulator within two months of the date of our letter. Our letter will give you details of how to contact the Fundraising Regulator.
If the complaint does not concern Financial Conduct Authority regulated activity or fundraising activity, you can pursue the complaint via the Charity Commission. There is no time limit for this. Our letter will give you details of how to contact the Charity Commission.
Our Board of Trustees receives an annual report of all formal complaints made. The Financial Conduct Authority receives an annual report of all complaints concerning regulated activity (ie debt advice). All comments and complaints are used as part of the process of improving the range and quality of our work on a continuous basis.
How to make a complaint
In the first instance you may wish to raise your complaint informally with the member of staff you are dealing with directly, in order that we can deal with the complaint immediately. You can also make a formal complaint via your Caseworker or Debt Adviser or any other member of staff or contact Head Office directly:
Telephone: 0800 093 8510
Write: 115-117 Kingston Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 7SU
Financial Ombudsman Service: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Fundraising Regulator: www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk