A while ago I was involved in a useful meeting at ISPA (Internet Service Providers Association) along with a number other ISPs and OFCOM and CISAS.
CISAS is one of the two ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) providers of which a telco or ISP must be a member.
The meeting was useful. CISAS did clarify their processes a lot, and confirmed that there was an initial stage of confirming a dispute was "out of scope" at no cost to the ISP. They also have an option to settle at that stage for a lower fee than the full dispute fee. Both are useful, and I appreciate them taking the time to clarify the process.
We discussed many points, and made constructive suggestions to help the process and make things clearer for ISPs as well as complainers.
However, I did raise one issue which was the possibility of a matter taken to ADR which was out of scope because it was "not a dispute".
This created some confusion - as they say that they will take on any complaint, defined as an "expression of dissatisfaction". However, I pointed out that someone can be dissatisfied and have a complaint but it not be a "dispute".
The scenario is simple - a key part of the meaning of the word dispute is that it is where two parties disagree. This is part of the dictionary definition. But someone can complain where there is no disagreement. If someone was to say "you provided very bad customer service", and we say "sorry, yes, we did, we appreciate your feedback and do not in any way dispute your assertion that we provided bad customer service, we'll try and do better in future", then in such a scenario a complaint exists but not a dispute. We do not dispute what the customer is saying, so no dispute exists or needs resolving.
[The separate issue of saying "I want money for bad customer service" and us saying "the contract is clear that no compensation is due for bad customer service" is a contract dispute and not something CISAS can take on]
I argued that a non dispute complaint is out of scope as they are there to resolve disputes. The clue is in the name ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), and I think I actually used that phrase.
They really struggled with the concept, and I asked if they know the meaning of "dispute". They tried wriggling saying that they understand what I mean by dispute, and I pushed them with "do they know the dictionary definition of dispute?". I was somewhat assertive, shall we say, almost rude, sorry.
Basically the answer is no, they do not. They could not define dispute in the meeting. CISAS cannot tell me the meaning of "dispute" even though it is part of the term that defines what they do "Alternative Dispute Resolution".
I have given them ample time to come back to me with an answer to this and not seen one yet, hence now blogging. Sorry, you had your chance guys.
If an Alternative Dispute Resolution provider cannot even define the meaning of "Dispute" then there is clearly a problem.
We'll see if they have a reply now I have blogged.