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60 seconds Resolver - How to use the free complaints tool

Nick | Edited by Steve N

Updated May 2016

Complaining isn't always easy – companies often ignore you, or fob you off with legal jargon. The free online tool Resolver* takes the hassle out of making a complaint, by helping you draft a letter, send it, monitor replies and then escalate it to an Ombudsman or key complaint body if it's not sorted.

It's been a year since we partnered with Resolver and we've been adding the system to many of our guides, marrying our campaigning know-how with its technology. Here's a quick briefing on exactly what it does.

Which companies can I use Resolver to complain to? You can raise pretty much any kind of complaint with around 29,700 firms and public bodies, including shops, restaurants, energy and telecoms firms, banks and insurance providers (see more info below).

With three of our biggest reclaim guides – Flight Delay Compensation, Reclaim Packaged Bank Accounts and Reclaim CreditExpert – we've specially modified Resolver with bespoke MoneySavingExpert letters, to huge success.

How do I complain if the company I want to complain about isn't included? Aha, clever, I see what you did there. If a company's not listed, you can ask Resolver to add it by emailing support@resolver.co.uk.

Is it any good? Yes, you know we like it but don't just take our word for it. Here's what MoneySavers have told us (we'd love to hear what you think – join the forum discussion):

Contested my packaged back account fee via Resolver at 6.30am, by midday Nat West had deposited a full £798 refund plus interest into my account – Mark

We got back £3,300 from BA for our delayed flight to the USA recently – €600 per person. Thank you so much for the direction to use the Resolver website. So quick and easy. – Deanne

Full refund of £500 from Extra Energy using Resolver – eight months of no help until I used it. – Louisa

How can it have template letters for every single eventuality? The vast majority of complaints are actually about very similar subjects, though the actual issue can differ by sector. So if you've got a problem, first select the company. Then you get a list of initial options...

For example, with a complaint about an energy firm your choice is:

  • Amend services
  • Billing
  • Customer services
  • Fraud
  • Green Deal
  • Meter issues
  • My details
  • Not what expected
  • Service issues
  • Service set up
  • Other (none of the above)

Then if you select customer service, for example, you can select from:

  • Excessive time to resolve
  • Insufficient compensation
  • Issue not responded to
  • Not called/emailed back
  • Rude staff
  • Other (none of the above)

After that you fill in your details and briefly explain your story and what resolution you want. The letter is drafted for you and then in many cases you just click for it to be sent.

OK, I like the sound of that. But being nerdy for a second, how many template letters does that mean it has?
In total Resolver has over 70,000 variants of template letters – these are written by the Resolver team and checked by its lawyers.

And if my complaint's rejected? One advantage of Resolver is that if your complaint's initially rejected, it'll help you escalate it – within the company first, and then if necessary to an external ombudsman or regulator.

Several ombudsmen, regulators and other external complaints bodies accept submissions directly via Resolver. You won't have to use its normal forms and can fill in a Resolver template instead.

This includes big ones such as the Financial Ombudsman Service, CISAS (telecoms), Ombudsman Services (telecoms and energy), OFWAT (water), the Local Government Ombudsman and the Legal Ombudsman Service and CEDR (industry-wide).

Can I complain on the phone to the company? Yes, phoning the firm in question may be best if you think you've got a straightforward complaint but remember you may be charged for the call. If you call via Resolver's free iPhone* or Android* app it'll be recorded – if you don't have a compatible smartphone there's a template you can use in the online tool to note down the contents of your call and add it to your case file.

Is Resolver effectively a claims management company? No, it's not – firstly because it's free, and secondly because while it will guide you, you're in charge of your complaint and responsible for checking it before it's sent.

How many cases actually end up being successfully resolved? It's hard to put an exact figure on it as many users don't log back in to officially close their case, even if they're successful and happy with the outcome.

However, to give an estimate, when Resolver analysed a sample of 450 randomly selected cases in detail, it found around 60% had reached a "positive resolution".

What happens if my complaint isn't resolved after it's been escalated to an ombudsman? Sometimes you need to accept the situation, if it has deemed your complaint isn't fair. If not, often the final recourse is to take it to court, which is a serious undertaking. See full info in our Small Claims Court guide.

While Resolver won't help with this process (yet), having used Resolver can be a real advantage – it'll give you a complete record of all the correspondence you've had to do with your case.

If it's all free and it has no adverts, how does Resolver make its money? Resolver's entirely free to use – and relatively new – but it plans to make its money in three main ways.

Firstly, it may choose to sell aggregated, anonymous data, to companies that want to see how their complaints handling compares to others. It's important to note it NEVER sells your personal details.

As an oversimplified example, it could tell BT: "You had 1,500 complaints and responded within three days, Virgin had 1,200 and responded in eight hours."

It may also make money through affiliated (paid) links – for example, if you're complaining about an energy firm, it could suggest you ditch and switch and offer an affiliated link to a switching site.

Finally, it will use its expertise to provide technical help for various organisations to help improve their complaints processes.

The MoneySavingExpert logo is on its website – what's the relationship between it and Resolver? OK, for that let's hand over to MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis.

"
MoneySavingExpert's aim has always been to cut your bills and fight your corner. Part of that is ensuring that when a company doesn't give you the product or service you expect it should be put right. Yet complaining isn't always easy as they often ignore you, or fob you off with legal jargon.

"For the last decade we've used template letters to help – over 10m have been downloaded just on our PPI and bank charges reclaiming campaigns alone. The free technology Resolver provides can take this a leap further. And sorry to do a Victor Kiam (for those of you old enough to remember), but when I saw it I wanted to get involved.

"So we are now committed to working together, marrying Resolver's technology with our campaigning background. In practical terms this means incorporating Resolver into MoneySavingExpert guides, even where previously we haven't focused on 'what to do if it goes wrong'.

"As part of this deal we're taking part-ownership of the company – the exact share depends on quite how much we do for it, both in support and how many MoneySavers go there. As we never like to hide these things, you'll noticed the link to Resolver is 'starred' which is our way of indicating we potentially stand to gain from you clicking it – though as always we never do it unless we believe it's the best route."

So who exactly does Resolver let you complain to? Most of the major companies and bodies which you can complain to are listed in the table below. However Resolver also works with smaller, regional businesses. These are often represented by trade associations, a few of which Resolver recently added to its systems.

Trustmark, with 15,000 firms, and Buy with Confidence, with 4,700, represent small traders – generally plumbers, decorators, building contractors etc (some may be members of both trade bodies). The Legal Ombudsman also covers around 10,600 legal firms.

Which firms can I use Resolver to complain to?

Sector

Firms covered Firms / public bodies % of sector (1) Types of complaints covered
Energy* All Big Six firms plus smaller ones, eg, Ovo and First Utility 50 99% Billing, cust service, meter issues, service issues and fraud.
Finance* All major banks and building societies, plus lenders such as Wonga and Quick Quid. 194 85% Depends on product – includes fraud, incorrect transactions and rejected applications.
Insurance* Major insurers, eg, Admiral, AXA, Churchill and Saga. 200 95%

Claims, disputes, quotes and renewals.

Legal* Lawyers or solicitors dealing with mortgages, tax issues, divorce, inheritance and more. 256 90%

Conduct, costs, fraud, money and services.

Leisure* Leisure facilities and gyms, eg, Virgin Active, David Lloyd. 89 60% Facilities, lost property, membership, payments, staff.
Motoring*

Car dealers, manufacturers and breakdown services.

251 99% of big brands

Costs, repairs, servicing, purchases and warranty.

Property* Housing associations, letting agents and estate agents, eg, Winkworth and Strutt & Parker. 1,334 50% of estate agents, 95% of housing assocs. Commission, marketing, sales, valuation, compensation, payments and home purchases.
Public services* Universities and schools, all local councils and central government, eg, the DVLA. 561 100% of local govt, 60% of central govt

Depends on service – eg, for councils it covers complaints re staff, facilities and services.

Restaurants* Chains such as Starbucks, Harvester and Pizza Express. 131 75% of chains Food, reservations, conduct of staff, lost property, prices and restaurant environment.
Shops* Chains such as Ikea, B&Q and Asda. Online retailers like Asos and Amazon. Daily deal sites like Groupon and Wowcher. 645 75% of high street chains, 65% of online retailers Delivery, payment, pricing issues, loyalty schemes, warranties and guarantees.
Telecoms* Major home phone, mobile, broadband and TV providers like EE, Sky and Virgin Media. 61 95% Billing, customer services, network coverage, service issues and roaming.
Travel* Airlines, tour operators, hotels, online booking services and rail companies, plus official bodies such as TfL. 402 85% Booking problems, conduct of staff, delays and cancellations, lost property and luggage.
Water* All water companies across the UK, eg, Thames Water and Southern Water. 32 100% Billing, customer services, meter and supply issues.
You can also use Resolver to contact your local MP*. (1) Resolver's estimate of the % of companies covered.