Guidelines for Resolving Your Complaint
1. WHAT STEPS HAVE YOU TAKEN TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM?
After you listen patiently to someone relating their complaint to you. The first question you must ask that individual is: What steps have you taken to resolve this complaint? Under the law, the Complaints Commissioner is not allowed to investigate when the individual has a right to appeal to another body set up by law.
2. The Commissioner may not investigate the Complaint if the (Complainer) has not given the Department or Statutory Body a chance to deal with the Complaint. Disputes and grievances can sometimes be resolved with simple, honest communication, this is worth trying before filing a Complaint with the Complaints Commission.
3. There are some basic everyday methods that one can use when trying to resolve a problem whether it involves a Government Department, Statutory Body or any other Agency.
- BE PLEASANT, PERSISTENT AND PATIENT. The Government usually acts but at times not swift enough. You will find that citizens and others who are best able to resolve problems have three common traits: - They TREAT EVERYONE with Respect and COURTESY, THEY DO NOT GIVE UP EASILY, THEY KNOW THAT MOST PROBLEMS are not resolved OVERNIGHT.
- EXERCISE YOUR APPEAL RIGHTS. You must first use the Complaints Investigation System in place in the Ministry or Statutory Body. You must ascertain whether the problem has a formal appeal process. If you are unsure, you reserve the right to question the Authority on your rights to appeal and the time limits and the manner and format used to lodge an appeal.
- RIGHT COMMUNICATION MODE: if you are not filing a formal appeal, decide whether you want to contact the Ministry or Statutory Body by telephone, letter or email. Use the mode you are most comfortable with. If the problem is urgent then I suggest you appear in person.
- HAVE A STRATEGY IN MIND. Plan, before making contact, consider who maybe your audience. Will it be someone who can address the problem to your satisfaction and provide a meaningful solution. After explaining your problem, you may ask to speak to a supervisor or above.
- BE PREPARED. Be sure to have all the relevant information available such as letters, emails, before contacting the Ministry or Statutory Body. If you prefer face to face contact, we suggest that you call first. A short phone call could save a waste of time such as finding out that the person you need to talk to would not be in the office that day.
- PLAN YOUR QUESTIONS. Write down your questions before calling or visiting the office.
- KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND THE LAW. Be sure to specifically ask which law, rule, order or policy covers the Ministry or Statutory Body’s actions. Ask for a copy of the Law, Rule, Order or Policy (So that you can read it for yourself to see whether you agree).
- KEEP RECORDS. Take good notes of all conversations including telephone calls. This should include the person’s name and job title,the time and date, what he/she told you and the the particulars of anyone present. Keep all records received from the Ministry or Statutory Body, even envelopes also keep copies of any letters, emails, faxes and text sent to the Ministry or Statutory Body.
- READ WHAT IS SENT TO YOU. Carefully read everything from the Ministry or Statutory Body front and back including the fine print. If all that fails, do contact the Complaints Commission. Our Office has lawful authority to investigate complaints about most Government Ministries and Statutory Bodies. Major exceptions include H.E. The Governor, The Cabinet, House of Assembly, Chief Justice and any Judge of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal. The Magistrate, National Audit Office, The Police. The matters not subject to investigation are stated in Schedule 3 of the Complaints Commissioner Ordinance (Ombudsman) 2015 as provided for by Section 8 (1) c. Nor can the Complaints Commissioner investigate Police action taken to investigate a crime or to protect the security of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Outside of that, the Complaints Commission can investigate the Police for acts of maladministration and administrative actions that are of public interest.
Dealing with Negative Aspects in People
- Recognize that it is useless to argue with someone who is defensive or in a hack mode
- Realize that the person may be feeling insecure at that time
- Do not push them – it will only make matters worse
- If you have noticed that a person seems to act out during times of stress, wait until another time to pursue the discussion
- Stay confident and do not allow yourself to be verbally abused
- Help to show the person how much their negative behavior is affecting them
- Set goals for them to work better with others
Overcoming Negative Aspects of Oneself
- Learn to recognize when your defense mechanisms are up
- Do not react quickly when you are feeling defensive
- Learn to listen when someone asks a question or makes a suggestion
- Ask the person to re-state their question/comment/suggestion.
- Do consider that other people have good ideas that are as valid as yours
- Learn listening skills and team building by taking courses or workshops
- Confide in a person who can help you work on this negative aspect of yourself, such as a friend, college or counselor
- Remember that changing learned patterns of insecurity and defensiveness may take years of work
- Learn to understand your own personality and your unique strengths and weakness
Remember you are providing a valuable service to the public and you must do so with dignity/integrity/patience/understanding, in an effective and efficient manner