Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

Call us on 0800 377 7330

We are committed to offering you a high-quality service. Our Customer Service Standards describe how you can expect us to act.

We will communicate effectively with you

We will:

  • listen to what you want from us and ensure we understand your complaint;
  • treat you politely and respectfully, without prejudice;
  • deal with your complaint in a timely way – sometimes we may need more time than usual to look into your complaint and, if so, we will let you know;
  • explain our process to you and keep you updated about the stage your complaint has reached; and
  • always tell you who you can contact if you have any questions.

We will make our service easily available and accessible to you. We will work flexibly with you to understand and meet your individual needs.  This may include working with your representatives and other service providers to help you use our service.

Our communications with you will be clear and accurate, avoiding jargon.

If we can’t handle your complaint, we will let you know why and what you can do next.  If we can’t help, we will try to find another organisation that can.

We will work openly and fairly

The SPSO is independent and impartial.

We will publish information that explains how we handle complaints.

Our decisions will be based on and take account of all the relevant evidence.

We will:

  • collect and look at evidence;
  • consider all the information provided by you and the organisation you have complained about before we reach a decision;
  • clearly explain the reasons for our decision or explain why we can’t take your complaint further;
  • make sure any recommendations we make are proportionate, appropriate and fair; and
  • make sure the organisation you have complained about takes any action we ask for and get evidence to support this.

The Ombudsman is responsible for how we investigate, and decisions on, complaints. We will publish information about the Ombudsman. This will include details of their background and the rules they operate under.

We will carry out our duties competently and responsibly

We have to work within our legal powers (the SPSO Act 2002). The law describes what types of complaint we can and can’t look at, and what we can and can’t do about them. We will explain to you how this affects your complaint.

We will keep accurate records. We will hold data securely and share it appropriately.

We will use the outcomes of complaints and what we learn from them to promote wider learning and improvement to our service and the sector you have complained about.

We will acknowledge and apologise for any mistakes we make, put them right quickly and make sure we learn lessons to improve our service and performance.

We have a full version of our Customer Service Standards Framework available (PDF, 42KB).

What we expect from you

We are committed to dealing with you in line with our Customer Service Standards.  We also expect you to treat our staff and our service with respect.  Our ‘Unacceptable Actions Policy’ (PDF, 46KB) explains how we deal with unacceptable actions against our staff and our process.

Are you happy with the service you received from us?

If something goes wrong or you are not satisfied with our service, please tell us.  You have the right to complain if you feel we are not meeting our Customer Service Standards. We take complaints about our service very seriously and have a special procedure for dealing with them.   Our complaints procedure (PDF, 43KB) sets out how we handle complaints and the service complaints form (PDF, 28KB) can be used to complain.  If you need further information, or you need the leaflet and form in another language or format, please contact us.

If you are happy with the service you received from us, please let us know. And we are always interested to hear suggestions on how we can improve our service.

Making a complaint about our service

The SPSO is committed to offering a high standard of service. We take any complaints about our service seriously and aim to address any areas where we have not delivered to the standards we expect of ourselves.  We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services.

The full SPSO customer service complaints procedure is available to download (PDF, 43KB). If you require the complaints procedure in another language or format, please contact us.

You can make your complaint in person, by phone, by email or in writing. We have a two-stage service complaints process. We will always try to deal with your complaint quickly. If it is clear that the matter will need a detailed investigation, we will tell you and keep you updated on our progress.

Stage one: early resolution
We will always try to resolve your complaint quickly, within five working days if we can. Occasionally we may extend this by up to five working days. If you are unhappy with our response, you can ask us to consider your complaint at stage two.

Stage two: investigation
We will look at your complaint at this stage if you are dissatisfied with our response at stage one.We also look at some complaints immediately at this stage if it is clear that they are complex, need detailed investigation, or it is otherwise appropriate to do so. We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days. We will give you our decision as soon as possible. This will be after no more than 20 working days unless this is not possible. In such circumstances we will advise you and keep you updated on our progress.

The Independent Customer Complaints Reviewer
If, after receiving our final decision on your service complaint, you remain unhappy with our response or the way we have handled your complaint, you can ask the Independent Reviewer to consider it. We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final response.

The full SPSO customer service complaints procedure is available to download (PDF, 43KB). If you require the complaints procedure in another language or format, please contact us.

Information, recording and monitoring

If we identify shortcomings in our service through a complaint, we use this information to review and improve the service we provide.

We'll tell you about any administrative action that we take as the result of learning from a complaint about our service. But we will not provide information about any action taken against individual member(s) of staff.

Complaints Statistics

As an organisation we are committed to improving our service.   A summary of complaints are communicated to our senior management team so that we can address any systemic issues that may be identified and learn from these.

We keep a record of all complaints made about our service and the outcome of each complaint.

Updated: February 2, 2017