We provide an independent complaint investigation service. You can complain to us if you are unhappy with how you have been treated by providers of public services such as:

  • Government Departments
  • Local authorities
  • the Health Service Executive (HSE)
  • public hospitals
  • publically funded third-level education bodies
  • nursing homes

As set out in our Statement of Strategy 2022 -2025, we aim for excellence and professionalism in the delivery of our services.  We strive to be an outward-facing customer centric organisation and to provide an accessible, efficient and effective service to our customers, which includes members of the public and the public bodies we work with.  We will strive to meet defined quality standards and continuously review our performance to ensure that our customers remain at the heart of everything we do.

Our Customer Service Charter sets out what you can expect from us when we examine your complaint.  Our Charter is consistent with the Ombudsman Association’s Service Standards Framework.

Contact by telephone

You can telephone us Monday to Friday during office hours.  If you contact us by telephone, we will:

  • Answer your call promptly
  • Give you our name when we answer your call
  • Be courteous and helpful to you
  • Answer your query in full
  • If we cannot do so immediately, we will take your details and call you back as soon as possible
  • Respond to all voicemails messages promptly

Complaints to the Ombudsman (about providers of public services)

If you complain to us about the actions of a public service provider, we will:

  • Acknowledge your complaint within five working days
  • Keep you advised of progress on your case
  • Please note that if we have already given you a decision in relation to a complaint we cannot continue to engage on the same matter. In such cases we will inform you of this in writing

Visitors to the Office/Outreach events

We ask anyone who wants to visit us in person to do so by appointment.  If you visit us we will:

  • Treat you with courtesy, respect your privacy and be fair in our dealings with you
  • Meet you at the agreed time if you have an appointment
  • Provide appropriate facilities for meetings
  • Staff from the Office also engage in outreach events and complaint clinics regionally.  On such occasions, staff will act in accordance with this customer charter and aim to treat you with courtesy, respect your privacy and be fair in their dealings with you. Details of these events are published locally as well as on our website.

Service through Irish

We will make every effort to assist you if you wish to conduct your business with us through Irish. This includes the following commitments:

  • Correspondence received in Irish will be answered in Irish
  • We will publish key documents including our Annual Reports in Irish and English
  • We will ensure that information leaflets aimed at the public are available in both Irish and English
  • An Irish version of our website will mirror as far as practicable the English version
  • We will meet our other commitments under the Official Languages Act as published on our website

Equality / Diversity / Disability / Privacy

  • We commit to dealing with you without discrimination or prejudice
  • We will aim to have our services and facilities easily available and accessible to you
  • Contact email for our Access Officer under the Disability Act is: accessofficer@ombudsman.ie
  • We will consider equality and human rights in all our work
  • In developing this Customer Service Charter, the Office has had regard to the considerations regarding eliminating discrimination, promoting equality and protecting human rights identified in section 42(1)(a)-(c) of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014

Written correspondence (not related to a complaint)

If you send us a letter, email or online enquiry we will:

  • Acknowledge your correspondence within five working days
  • Ensure you receive a full reply to your written correspondence within 20 working days
  • If we cannot provide a full reply within 20 working days, we will write to you and explain why. We will let you know when you can expect a full reply
  • Write to you in clear language and avoid using technical terms

Complaints about customer service

If something goes wrong and you are not satisfied with our customer service, please tell us.

This refers to the issue of customer care and service in how you were dealt with by our staff.

  • In the first instance, please raise the matter with the person you are dealing with in the Office, so that we can respond and try to deal with the matter as early as possible
  • IIf you are not happy with the response and wish to make a formal complaint about the standard of services you received from this Office, please see our Customer Service Complaints Process
  • We aim to acknowledge such complaints in five working days and try to provide a full reply in 20 workings days.

Help us to help you

You can help us to give you a high quality service:

  • Complain to the service provider you are unhappy with first, so it has a chance to put things right
  • Please state your complaint as clearly and as concisely as you can
  • Please send us copies of relevant documents when submitting your complaint
  • Quote any relevant reference number in all communications with us
  • As part of our customer charter, we commit to dealing with users of our service professionally and with respect.  We also expect you to treat our staff and the service we provide with respect.  Our Reasonable Conduct Policy sets out how we expect people to interact with us and also explains how we manage unacceptable actions against our staff and our process.

Consultation and feedback

We are always interested to hear suggestions on how we can improve our service.  If you would like to comment or make a suggestion please email: info@ombudsman.ie

What we expect from service providers complained about

We expect service providers to:

  • Give people a clear final answer to their complaint
  • Make people aware of our service when giving them a final answer
  • Treat people who make a complaint, and our staff, with courtesy and respect
  • Work with us to address the complaints people bring to us as quickly and effectively as possible
  • Give us all the information we ask for in a reasonable amount of time

Where to find us

Our full contact details are available on the ‘Contact Ombudsman' page

Address: 6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773

Phone: +353 1 639 5600

As set out in our Statement of Strategy 2022-25, we aim for excellence and professionalism in the delivery of our services. We strive to be a customer centric organisation and to provide an accessible, efficient and effective service to our customers, which includes members of the public and service providers. Our Customer Service Charter sets out what you can expect from us when we investigate your complaint. 

If something goes wrong, and you are not satisfied with our service as set out in our Customer Service Charter, please tell us. You have the right to complain to us if you feel we have failed in the service we have provided to you. This refers to the issue of customer service in how you were dealt with by our staff.

What is a customer service complaint?

A customer service complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about the standard of service we have provided. You can complain about things like:

  • How we communicated with you
  • How long we took to deal with your case
  • Failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
  • How we met your needs

This list does not cover everything you can complain about.

✘ What is not a customer service complaint?

The following issues are not covered by our Customer Service Complaints Process:

  • Disagreement about our decision on a complaint about a public service provider or the evidence taken into account in reaching that decision 
  • A request to reopen a previously concluded customer service complaint or to have a service complaint reconsidered as this is not possible
  • A request for information.

When can I make a customer service complaint?

It is easier for us to help you, if you make contact quickly and directly with the caseworker involved in the matter. Accordingly, please contact your caseworker who will try to resolve any issues for you. If you remain dissatisfied with our service, you can complain to the Quality Customer Service Manager. Normally, you must make your complaint within four weeks of the event you want to complain about or finding out that you have a reason to complain.

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit.  If you think the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

How do I make a customer service complaint?

You can submit your customer service complaint to our Quality Customer Service Manager:

Form: by downloading our Customer Service Complaints Form (doc)

Alternatively, you can complain:

by email to CustomerComplaints@ombudsman.ie
in writing to Office of the Ombudsman, 6 Earslsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773
by phone at 01 639 5600 or
by requesting a paper copy of our complaint form. 

What happens after I complain?

On receipt of your complaint, our Quality Customer Service Manager will:

  • Acknowledge receipt of your complaint within five working days
  • Contact you (where we think it is necessary) to understand why you are unhappy and what outcome you are looking for
  • Give you a full response to the complaint within 20 working days unless there are exceptional circumstances. If we cannot provide a full response within this timescale, we will tell you.
  • The Quality Customer Service Manager’s response will set out what we have found, and what further steps, if any, we propose to resolve the matter. The Quality Customer Service Manager’s response is final.

 

How should I behave when making a complaint?

We understand that making a complaint/disclosure/appeal or request can be stressful and that, from time to time, this stress may show in how a person interacts with this Office. Our staff members know that managing these interactions is part of their job.

However, we expect people to act reasonably when interacting with our Office. Our staff are not expected to tolerate behaviour that is abusive, offensive, threatening or, due to the frequency of contact, takes up too much time and resources that could be spent assisting other customers.

What kind of behaviour is unacceptable?

The following types of behaviour are not acceptable:

  • Unreasonable persistence

If a file has been closed by this Office, it is unreasonable persistence to refuse to accept the decision or insist that another member of staff looks again at the case.

  • Unreasonable demands

An unreasonable demand can include a demand for action regarding a matter that is outside of the Office’s remit, looking for a solution that is not realistic or is disproportionate, demanding that a specific person must/must not deal with your case, or demanding that your case be dealt with within a specific timeframe or ahead of other customers.

  • Unreasonable lack of co-operation

This may be demonstrated by a failure to clearly define the matter you are raising with the Office, presenting large volumes of documentation in a disorganised way, changing the substance of the issue while the Office’s process is ongoing, withholding information and not being honest about facts. It also includes non-cooperation by you with the Office, which may hinder, obstruct or delay the process.

  • Unreasonable arguments

Unreasonable arguments should not be made to this Office. Examples include exaggerating issues, presenting irrelevant arguments, insisting your version of events is accepted as fact where there is no objective evidence to support it, or refusing to consider other versions of events.

  • Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour includes multiple phone calls, emails or letters about the same matter, threats of violence, abuse of the Office staff, rude or aggressive conduct, sending profane imaging and attempting to provoke staff into engaging in unnecessary and time-wasting argument. Inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations are also considered to be abusive behaviour.

Please note if emails are received with profanities and/or unacceptable images, that such emails will not be acknowledged and your correspondence will be delayed, because they are automatically blocked by our firewall. If these emails persist the email address will be blocked.

Written correspondence

We will not accept correspondence that is abusive or threatening to staff. We will not respond to any correspondence containing such language.

Telephone calls

We will tell the person if we think their language during telephone calls is rude and offensive and ask them to stop using such language. Staff have the right to terminate the telephone call if the behaviour continues.

What happens if I behave in this way?

If we consider your behaviour to be unreasonable, we will tell you why and ask you to change it.

Unreasonable conduct may include one or two isolated incidents or may be the accumulation of incidents or behaviour over a period of time. If the unacceptable conduct continues or constitutes a serious risk (such as threatening a member of staff with violence), we will take action to restrict the complaint’s contact with our offices and staff.

This decision will only normally be taken after a more senior staff member has reviewed the situation. Restrictions will be appropriate and in line with the nature of the behaviour. The options we are most likely to consider are:

  • asking you to contact us by letter only
  • asking you to only make contact with a named staff member
  • asking you to call by telephone only on certain days and times
  • limiting your access to the office
  • additional correspondence relating to the same matter is read and then filed but no response is provided
  • as a final option, terminating all contact with you if this behaviour persists (the Director General will make this decision)

In all cases, we will write to tell you why we believe your behaviour is not reasonable and what action we propose to take. If the behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of the staff of the Office or others, we will consider other options. These could include, reporting the matter to An Garda Síochána or instigating legal action. In such cases, we may not give you warning of that action.

Regardless of your behaviour, our staff will act respectfully towards you and take an impartial attitude to the issues you have raised with this Office.

In developing this Reasonable Conduct Policy, the Office has had regard to the considerations regarding eliminating discrimination, promoting equality and protecting human rights identified in section 42(1)(a)-(c) of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.