This document explains how Arrowhead Certification Services (ACS) will handle any claim of dissatisfaction, either formal or informal, that is brought to its attention. Expressions of dissatisfaction are categorised as complaints, appeals or disputes.
Appeals, complaints and disputes notified to ACS are handled confidentially in accordance with our internal procedures and assessment rules.
By dispute we mean an expression of disagreement or dissatisfaction with some matter related to ACS personnel, committees, auditors, and our clients.
In the event of a dispute relating to client activities, the ACS Auditor or Client Administrator will provide such information and advice to enable individuals to progress their disagreement at the appropriate level i.e. to promote direct dialogue and agreement between interested parties or to register a dispute as a complaint.
When you inform ACS of a dispute we will request the following information:
- Your name and the organisation that you represent
- Nature of the dispute
- Action taken / advice given
When attempting to resolve the dispute, if you are not happy with the answer you receive you may ask for the dispute to be registered as a complaint.
The existence of a dispute between ACS and a client shall not be a justification for the client to withhold payment for contracted work completed by ACS.
How to lodge a complaint
Complaints shall be by written submission only, signed by the complainant and addressed to the Technical Manager. A complaint based on hearsay will not be considered. The written submission should be able to demonstrate that the person / organisation against which the complaint has been made, has had ample opportunity to rectify the situation and shall include sufficient objective evidence to substantiate the claims.
Complaint handling process
On receipt of a complaint ACS shall verify that the complaint relates to certification activities that ACS is responsible for and if related to a client shall consider the effectiveness of the certified management system.
- Acknowledge receipt of the complaint,
- Review, validate and investigate the complaint and will decide what action is required,
- Gather and verify all necessary information to validate the complaint,
- Track and record complaints, including action taken to resolve them,
- Keep the complainant informed of the progress of the complaint,
- Ensure that any appropriate correction and corrective actions are taken, and
- Notify the complainant of its decision and the formal ending of the complaint process.
Any decision shall be made by, or reviewed and approved by, ACS personnel not previously involved in the subject of the complaint.
ACS together with the client and complainant shall agree whether, and if so, to what extent, the subject of the complaint and its resolution be made public.
The aim of this section is to explain the procedures for the handling of appeals to be applied when an ACS client does not agree with a decision taken by ACS.
The procedure caters for appeal in the unlikely event that a client does not agree with a decision relating to a rejection of an approval application, reduction of scope or suspension or withdrawal of certification, or any other decision relating to the client’s certification status.
How to lodge an appeal
When an ACS client does not agree with a decision made by ACS, the affected party may appeal in writing to ACS within 7 working days following notification of the decision. The appeal shall be lodged by sending a letter of appeal together with substantiating evidence to the ACS Client Administrator. E-mail transmission of the appeal is acceptable, however it is the responsibility of the appellant to ensure that the appeal document has been successfully transmitted.
The ACS Client Administrator shall acknowledge receipt of the appeal.
The Appeals Committee
An Appeals Committee shall be established on each occasion that an appeal is lodged against a decision made by ACS. The Appeals Committee shall be made up of members of ACS senior management who were not involved in the original decision-making process which led to the appeal being made.
No member of the Appeals Committee shall have been involved in the assessment team that evaluated the appellant or have a direct interest in the subject of the appeal in any form. The appellant has the right, subject to valid reason, to object to the appointment of any member of the Appeals Committee.
The Appeals Committee within 30 days, shall
- Review, validate and investigate the appeal, by examining evidence, and will decide what action is required,
- Take into account the results of similar appeals,
- Track and record appeals, including action taken to resolve them,
- Keep the appellant informed of the progress of the appeal, and
- Ensure that any appropriate correction and corrective actions are taken,
- The Appeals Committee, within a further 30 days, shall
- Notify the appellant of its decision, and
- Formally notify the appellant of the end of the appeals process.