An ombudsman is one of the alternative methods of dispute resolution launched through various European initiatives. In this way, disputes can be resolved out of court, at lower costs and within a shorter time frame.
The Telecommunications Ombudsman is competent to deal with disputes between users and providers of electronic communications services. His aim is to reach an amicable settlement between the parties within a reasonable period of time laid down by law.
The Ombudsman acts as an appeal body. Complaints are admissible if the complainant has previously taken steps with his provider of electronic communications services. In the context of his mission, the Ombudsman ensures that disputes are handled in complete independence.
Within the limits of its competences, the Ombudsman service does not receive instructions from any authority and remains completely independent of providers of electronic communications services.
He also pays a lot of attention to accessibility, by allowing complaints to be submitted through different channels: by post, electronically, via a web form, but also in the office, after making an appointment. In addition, complaints can be submitted in Dutch, French, German and English. The questions will be treated confidentially and the use of the service is completely free of charge for the complainants.
The key words are independence – free of charge – accessibility – confidentiality.
The Ombudsman for Telecommunications carries out his duties under the Law of 21 March 1991 on the reform of certain economic public enterprises:
As part of his duties, the Ombudsman must publish an annual report on his activities. This report highlights the disputes dealt with by the Mediation Service and addresses any structural problems. It can also be a way for providers of electronic communications services to assess their operation and services. In this way, the Ombudsman has a signal function to all actors who can bring about structural improvements for all users.
Within the team of the Mediation Service for Telecommunications, the staff handles the disputes independently, impartially, fairly and with integrity. They maintain constructive cooperation with the sector and strive for a result-oriented approach so that amicable settlements can be reached in the shortest possible time. When dealing with complaints, the employees demonstrate willingness to listen and empathy and develop a relationship of trust with all parties. The Mediation Service also pays special attention to vulnerable people.
Thanks to its values, the expertise of its employees and their motivation, the service reaches a high number of amicable settlements. These positive results benefit both complainants in the handling of their complaints and the entire telecommunications sector, by improving relations between end-users and operators.