Code of conduct

a-n believes good complaint handling is an important way of ensuring customers receive the service they are entitled to. We are committed to providing a transparent, high quality and accessible service to everyone we deal with. We aim to make your experience with us an excellent one and want to hear your comments and suggestions about the service you experienced when you contacted us, or when using any of our products or services.

We realise that sometimes things go wrong, and that’s where our complaints policy comes in. If you wish to make complaint or raise a concern, please do contact us, as this will help us to learn from our mistakes and improve our services.

This policy has been informed by the Principles of Good Complaint Handling, published by The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman 2009, and by the complaint handling protocols of Arts Council England, the British Council and DACS.

Principles of good complaint handling
Good complaint handling means:
1. Getting it right
2. Being customer focused
3. Being open and accountable
4. Acting fairly and proportionately
5. Putting things right
6. Seeking continuous improvement

Our commitment
In dealing with your complaint, we commit to:
• treat you fairly, honestly, reasonably, confidentially and impartially regardless of whether or not you are a Member of a-n
• operate a transparent complaints procedure
• be courteous and friendly whenever we speak to you
• give our name whenever we are communicating with you
• provide a high quality, accessible and responsible service
• treat your enquiry strictly in confidence

When we get things wrong, we commit to:
• apologise and take responsibility
• acknowledge and explain what went wrong and why
• endeavour to put things right without delay
• learn lessons from your complaint to improve our services.

The complaints process
We aim to acknowledge your complaint at stage one within one week or 5 working days, and resolve it fully within 8 weeks. Where cases are more complex, or if your complaint is escalated, longer timescales may apply, and we will notify you about these when we contact you.

Stage one
If you wish to make a complaint, you can do so by email, letter or telephone. All complaints should be made within 90 days or 3 months of the date that the event or action occurred or the issue came to your attention.

Please tell us:
• what happened
• when it happened
• who dealt with you
• what you would like us to do to put things right.

We aim to resolve as many issues as we can the very first time you contact us. The member of staff you talk to will aim to see it through to resolution wherever possible, but he or she may need to liaise with other colleagues and/or the senior management team to make this happen.

Stage two
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at stage one, you can take this further by contacting a-n’s CEO, Julie Lomax. Contact details are below.

Stage three
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at stage two, you can take this further by writing to the Chair of a-n’s Board of Directors. Contact details are below.

Stage four
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at stage three, you can refer your complaint to an external body for advice, further investigation or dispute resolution (for example Citizens Advice, Trading Standards, the Ombudsman Association).

If you experience or anticipate any barriers to making a complaint, please contact us to discuss the type of support you would like us to provide.

In dealing with complaints, our communication will generally be via email. Please let us know if you are not able to write your complaint or if you need to communicate with us via telephone. We may need to record telephone calls in order to have a formal record of the complaint.

You may wish to have a third party act on your behalf, either another person or organisation. Third parties include advice organisations, professionals such as solicitors, or family members and friends. Where this is the case, you will need to provide a-n with written consent to that effect.

Your complaint will be dealt with in the strictest confidence, in line with our Privacy policy.

Information about you may be shared internally, but only where necessary to investigate and resolve your complaint. We will only disclose your information to third parties with your consent, or if we are legally required to do so.

Under UK data protection law, you have the right to ask for a copy of the information we hold on you, and the right to ask us to correct any inaccuracies in that information.

Telephone: 0300 330 0706
Email: [email protected]
Postal address: a-n, High Bridge Works, 31-39 High Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1EW.

Our office hours are 10.00am to 1.00pm Monday to Friday, when staff are available on our main switchboard number.