Dispute Resolution Schemes

Dispute resolution schemes are independent dispute resolution services set up to provide consumers of specific industry groups/professions access to a fair way of resolving disputes.

Some industries or professions governed by legislation or codes of conduct must be members of dispute resolution schemes to give consumers confidence in their commitment to consumer satisfaction. Dispute resolution schemes enhance the reputation of the scheme members as being fair to their consumers and committed to improving their products or services.

Dispute resolution schemes are ‘owned’, usually by an industry or professional group or regulator, and have members who pay to belong to the scheme. Telecommunications companies and financial service providers are two examples of groups that belong to a dispute resolution scheme.

FairWay is one of New Zealand’s leading providers of dispute resolution scheme services.

What does a dispute resolution system include?

Dispute resolution systems are processes for resolving complaints fairly and independently of the organisation that provided the product or service. One of the goals of the schemes is to use escalating dispute resolution techniques to resolve disputes well before they reach litigation.

End-to-end consumer dispute resolution schemes include a single gateway for the benefit of consumers with complaint enquiries. It is free for consumers to use the dispute resolution system, which manages complaints from inception to completion. All dispute resolution schemes have a set complaints process, including timeframes for parties to respond, and what types of complaints they cover. 

Components of schemes usually include:

  • a single telephone and email gateway for complaint enquiries
  • a triage centre will register the complaint, guide the complainant on how to write a complaint (including interpretation and translation if necessary) and refer the complainant back to the appropriate person within the organisation complained about to deal with in the first instance. A professionally-run triage centre ensures that complainants will have easy access to a process to redress the issues they have with the member organisation to avoid them escalating to time-consuming and stressful disputes that are 'costly and stressful' for all parties
  • escalating dispute resolution techniques for unresolved complaints. We have skilled mediators and adjudicators on staff who can seamlessly work with consumers and member organisations to seek resolution of disputes. Our team also manages response times at each step of the process to ensure the customer’s complaint is dealt with quickly so they can move on with their relationship with the member organisation
  • we are able to offer a web-based case management portal that will be available to members of schemes and consumers with internet access. The case management system would be customised to reflect the underlying scheme processes, while enforcing consistency
  • comprehensive business intelligence about what is occurring in the organisation, industry or sector, and identifies systemic issues both sector-wide and in respect of individual providers. We use root cause analysis techniques to uncover systemic problems or serious misconduct that can be addressed to restore or enhance the reputation of the industry or profession

Back to top

What are the benefits for individual members of dispute resolution schemes?

Because the purpose of a dispute resolution scheme is to enhance consumers’ trust and confidence in the industry or profession as a whole, we work with scheme members on their internal approaches to customer complaints as a way to reduce consumers’ need to access the dispute resolution scheme process. For instance, we help members implement internal customer complaints systems, provide training on conflict management, communicate about systemic issues that they can use to improve their own operation and also provide individual reporting and feedback (when necessary).

Although scheme members pay a membership fee, they usually save money by their disputes being resolved at the triage centre before requiring the more costly services of mediation, adjudication or litigation. Dispute resolution schemes also enable scheme members to spend less time diverted from more productive activities when dealing with a complaint.

Members are encouraged to promote their membership of the dispute resolution scheme to their consumers, which helps demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Back to top

Who operates our dispute resolution scheme services?

As the largest company in New Zealand specialising in conflict management, we have significant experience developing and operating industry dispute resolution schemes. Each scheme is led by a  scheme director, who takes responsibility for achieving KPIs, reporting, continuous improvement of service delivery and managing relationships with the scheme owners and members.

The scheme director is supported by scheme managers who provide the day-to-day operation of the scheme including working with facilitators to ensure service excellence.

Back to top