Complaints & Appeal

Accredited Certification Services (Hereinafter referred to as "ACS") aims to conduct their business with complete honesty and impartiality.  However, there are times when clients might feel that matters could have been handled better.  ACS has established a rigorous Complaints and Appeals Procedure which ensures that all complaints and appeals are handled in a fair and transparent manner, the main points of which are listed below:

 

General

  1. A verbal or written statement is regarded as a complaint whenever the client expresses dissatisfaction over a ACS decision related to certification;  i.e. granting, maintaining, renewing, extending, reducing, suspending and withdrawing of certification, or any other  unacceptable situation arising out of ACS activities with the client, and the client expects a response.
  2. Complaints do not include matters of a minor nature which can be readily resolved without invoking a formal procedure.
  3. A verbal or written statement is considered as an appeal whenever the client requests a ACS decision related to certification to be reconsidered; i.e. granting, maintaining, renewing, extending, suspending, reducing and withdrawing of certification.
  4. ACS is responsible for all decisions at all levels of the appeals-handling procedure.  Persons engaged in this procedure are different from those who carried out the audits and made the certification decisions.
  5. Submission, investigation and decision on appeals do not result in any discriminatory actions against the appellant.
  6. Upon receipt of a complaint, ACS confirms whether the complaint relates to certification activities that it is responsible for and, if so, deals with it in accordance with the established procedures.  If the complaint relates to a certified client, then examination of the complaint duly considers the effectiveness of the certified management system.
  7. Any complaint about a certified client will also be referred by ACS to the certified client in question at an appropriate time.
  8. The Complaints and Appeals Procedure is subjected to requirements for confidentiality, as it relates to the complainant and to the subject of the complaint.

Complaints Procedure

  1. Complaints should be sent via electronic mail to complaints@iso-accreditation.com  However, complaints presented by email, telephone or in writing to ACS representative will be processed in the same way, provided they have been clearly identified as complaints.
  2. A case reference number will be allocated to each complaint.
  3. ACS aims to make an initial response, including provision of the case reference number, within 3 working days.  No guarantee can be made of the timeframe for final closure of a complaint, as this depends on the exact circumstance of each case.
  4. The default method of communication is electronic mail, although other means will be used if requested by the client.
  5. Complaints are normally dealt with by the Head of the Department responsible for the activity against which the complaint has been made.
  6. All complaints are tracked to ensure that they are dealt with as promptly as possible.
  7. Where necessary, regular progress reports will be provided.
  8. A final decision will be issued via electronic mail.
  9. Confirmation will be provided that a complaint has been closed.
  10. All current and closed complaints opened within the previous month are discussed at ACS weekly staff meeting and corrective actions taken are reviewed for their effectiveness.
  11. If considered appropriate, discussion may be initiated with the parties involved on whether the subject of the complaint and its resolution should be made public.

Appeals Process

  1. Appeals should be sent via electronic mail to appeals@iso-accreditation.com.  However, appeals presented by electronic mail, telephone or in writing to ACS representative will be processed in the same way, provided they have been clearly identified as appeals.
  2. A case reference number will be allocated to each appeal.
  3. ACS aims to make an initial response, including provision of the case reference number, within 3 working days.  No guarantee can be made of the timeframe for final closure of an appeal, as this depends on the circumstance of each case.
  4. The default method of communication is electronic mail, although other means will be used if requested by the client.
  5. Appeals are normally dealt with by a different Manager to that which made the decision in question.
  6. All appeals are tracked to ensure that they are dealt with as promptly and as early as possible.
  7. Where necessary, regular progress reports will be provided.
  8. A final decision will be issued via electronic mail.
  9. Confirmation will be provided that an appeal has been closed.
  10. All current and closed appeals opened within the previous month are discussed at ACS' weekly staff meetings and corrective actions taken are reviewed for their effectiveness. 
  11. If considered appropriate, discussion may be initiated with the parties involved on whether the subject of the appeal and its resolution should be made public.

Resolution of Complaints

1 General

1.1.This procedure describes the responsibilities and actions of the Board of Directors and of accreditation body members in relation to the resolution of complaints.

1.2. Complaints concerning decisions and activities of ISO registrar may involve a variety of different parties. Thus, besides the Annual, the Board of Directors, the MLA Group or a member of the committee, a complaint may directly involve a third party, such as an accreditation body not a member of an independent monitoring authority, a regional group of accreditation bodies, a certification body, a certification guideline user, or a user of certified / registered services.

2 Referenced Documents

2.1. Relevant ISO / IEC Guides and International Standards.

3 Terminology

3.1. The terms and definitions used in this procedure are based on ISO 8402.

3.2. Description of terms. For the purpose of this procedure, the following terms have the meanings indicated -

“accreditation body” includes bodies which offer accreditation services in accordance with ISO/IEC Guide 61 and accredit certification bodies/registrars to issue certificates of conformity with a standard, such as for management systems, products or personnel.

“MoU” means the Memorandum of Understanding signed by all members of the international forum.

“MLA” means the international forum's Multilateral Recognition Agreement between Accreditation Bod Members.

4 Independent Authority for Administration of Complaints

4.1. A complaint shall be lodged in the first instance with the global authority's Secretariat. The Secretariat shall promptly acknowledge in writing the receipt and subject of the complaint. Upon receipt of a complaint, the Secretariat shall ensure that the substance of the complaint is clearly understood and documented, and that all relevant claims or statements made by the complainant or other interested parties are properly authenticated in writing. Such authentication is essential, before the complaint can be considered as a formal complaint. All specific issues mus be stated.

4.2. Following receipt and authentication of the complaint, the Secretariat shall inform the Chairman of the board, of the known facts of the case. The Chairman shall proceed with a thorough investigation of the complaint and seek a resolution of the issue(s) involved. Alternatively the Chairman of board shall, without delay, designate an appropriate person to be responsible for dealing with the matter.

4.3. Where the immediate issue(s) concerned cannot be resolved by direct discussion between the Chairman of board and/or the investigator and the complainant to the satisfaction of both parties, the Chairman of board shall offer the complainant the option of referring the matter for technical advice or complaints resolution to an independent complaints advisory committee, (and which shall not be less than three people) appointed by the IAF Board of Directors, the majority of whose members are not members of the forum's Board of Directors.

4.4. When the immediate issue has been investigated, the investigator and/or the complaints advisory committee shall submit a written detailed report including recommendations on the complaint to the Chairman of the board as soon as possible. The report shall include a recommendation on action(s) to be taken in relation to the complaint. Where grounds have been found for the IAF Board of Directors to consider taking remedial action, the report shall recommend the specific action to be taken

4.5. Where the steps outlined above do not resolve the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant, the Chairman of standing committee shall refer the report to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors shall consider the matter, and may consult appropriate Groups, and shall comment formally on the recommendations. The Chairman of the board in Geneva, Switzerland shall amend the recommendations as appropriate, in light of the Board of Director’s comments.

4.6. When the complaint is from a third party about the accreditation activities of a member of the world authority, the principal role of the akkreditering forum, therefore, in relation to the immediate issue is an indirect one of ensuring that an accreditation body member itself takes adequate steps to resolve a particular matter, through it's own complaint handling procedures, and through direct discussions between the accreditation body member and the complainant. The appointed Board of Directors is directly involved on the other issue, namely the question of accreditation body member’s compliance wit the requirements of the committee Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Multi Lateral Agreement (MLA).

4.7. The Secretary shall formally bring the issue of the complaint, and any relevant facts, to the notice of the accreditation body member, even where these have already been made known to the accreditation body member by the complainant, and ask the member to provide the current Board of Directors with a timely and full account of the outcome.

4.8. All persons involved shall take all necessary measures to preserve the confidentiality o information obtained during the investigation of the complaint. In particular, any legitimate request for preservation of anonymity or confidentiality expressed by those making claims or statements in connection with a complaint shall be respected.

4.9. The international body's Secretariat shall maintain a detailed and complete record of the receipt, handling and outcome of every complaint. The Secretariat shall submit a summary of all complaints handled since the previous meetings to each meeting of the IAF Board of Directors.

4.10. The Chairman of forum shall notify the complainant of the outcome of the complaint, consistent with valid confidentiality requirements.