NCS process

How to make a complaint

First steps…

Consumers must submit an initial complaints enquiry to the NCS; we will make an assessment of your complaint and ensure that the trader has subscribed to our scheme.

Remember, this is the first time we are hearing about your case, so it is important that consumers provide us with as much detail as possible to ensure we have a clear idea of what has happened and what action or outcome is appropriate to settle the matter. This helps the NCS to have a clear guideline of events and establish why the complaint could not already be resolved.

Consumers must provide us with the details of their case within 3 weeks of initially notifying us of your claim. During this time we will also contact the trader involved and they will also provide detail on the events.
We will then share both sets of statements with each party, making sure everyone is kept as up to date as possible.

There are 2 ways you can make an initial enquiry and contact the NCS:

1. Online

You can submit a complaint with us directly through the NCS website complaints portal:

2. Write to us

Enquiries and initial complaints can also be sent to us via post:

National Conciliation Service
PO Box 6562
CV21 9QP

The NCS only accepts complaints written in English.

Once initial contact has been made...

The evidence provided by both consumer and trader will be used by our case handlers as a basis for agreeing a settlement. Most communication will be done in writing but on occasion case handlers will speak to consumers and traders directly.

Sometimes additional evidence from industry experts may be appropriate and if this becomes apparent, the case handler will recommend that this evidence is provided. For example, a qualified independent engineer may be consulted for more complicated problems; the appointment of the engineer will be agreed between the consumer and the trader. Normally, it is best practice for the report’s costs to be split equally between both, although it is usually the responsibility of the consumer to request a report from a qualified independent engineer.

Once all of the necessary information to settle the case has been received (creating a “complete complaint file”), the case will normally be settled within 90 days.

Sometimes, due to the complex nature of vehicles, cases may be more challenging and require additional time to reach an appropriate outcome; in these cases, the NCS will inform both parties of the extent of the delay, the reasons for delay and the expected time that it will take to reach a resolution.

Once a resolution is agreed, we will advise both parties of the settlement, in writing, within 5 working days.

How we resolve disputes…

To settle disputes, the NCS uses its understanding of current consumer and contractual legislation, the principles of natural justice, the technical ‘knowhow’ of automotive engineering and the code of practice of the association concerned. To do this, NCS case handlers have an up-to-date knowledge of all of these elements in drawing their conclusions and in recommending settlement.

If things are still not resolved…

In some cases, you may not feel that the case has been resolved or may disagree with the case handler’s view. At this stage, the NCS will recommend either that the case is considered by the arbitration panel or that the case is better served in the courts.

If arbitration is recommended, the NCS will inform both parties that the arbitration decision will be legally binding before agreeing to enter into arbitration and both parties must agree to this before the arbitration process can commence.

The effect on the trader if the NCS makes a recommendation against the trader…

The NCS cannot impose penalties or sanctions directly on a trader. However, there are instances where the NCS may refer the trader to their trade association:

  • the case handler may feel that the trader has not acted appropriately during the resolution process
  • frequent referral of cases to the NCS will be reported to the association concerned to determine whether or not there are persistent breaches in either the law or the association’s code of practice
  • in the event that the case handler believes that the trader would benefit from education and training, this will be referred to the association, who is able to provide these services to the trader