The ASA is committed to providing a fair, consistent and accessible service for all of our customers. However, we have to balance this by providing a safe working environment for our staff to operate within and to ensure that our work is undertaken in an efficient and effective manner. This policy sets out our approach to managing those customers whose actions or behaviour are considered unacceptable because they are either having a negative impact on our staff or their ability to deal with that complaint, or with other people’s complaints.

There will be occasions when the behaviour or actions of individuals using our service makes it challenging for us to deal with their complaint. The ASA recognises that people may act out of character in times of distress or that they may have special requirements according to personal circumstances, for instance due to reasons of disability or illness. Please feel free to make us aware if you are affected by such factors that might be relevant to our interactions. We will aim to make reasonable adjustments to our approach to case handling and communications to take account of such circumstances. 

However, where any customer’s actions result in unreasonable demands on us, or unacceptable behaviour towards staff, or other parties, we reserve the right to manage customer contact to protect our staff and to maintain the effectiveness of our service to other customers. The ASA also reserves the right to limit or remove customer access to our complaint handling services where we consider that the volume of complaints from an individual is disproportionate or are otherwise vexatious, including in relation to the subject of complaints.

In no circumstances will we tolerate behaviour which involves abuse of or threatening behaviour towards our staff.

Examples of unacceptable behaviour

  • use of abusive, obscene or threatening language, or comments of a personal nature
  • comments of a discriminatory nature, e.g. in reference to any of the protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation)
  • repeated unnecessary phone calls or refusal to end telephone conversations
  • persistent or lengthy letter writing (or contact by email) which is adding nothing new to the matter
  • aside from in exceptional circumstances, large numbers of complaints in a short timescale from the same individual.

Types of restriction

The types of restrictions that can be placed on communication include:

  • no further calls will be accepted and all future contact must be in writing
  • correspondence will only be replied to if it is raising new issues or concerns
  • correspondence will not be replied to if it contains abusive, obscene or threatening language, or discriminatory comments (including related to protected characteristics)
  • no further complaints will be accepted for a notified period
  • in the most serious cases, removal of access to our services.

The level of restriction will be proportionate, where appropriate time limited, and always targeted at addressing a specific identified issue that we conclude is resulting in unacceptable contact with us. As above, we will aim to make reasonable adjustments and will take relevant requests into account as appropriate where applying communication restrictions.

Abusive or threatening behaviour towards our staff or third parties will be notified to law enforcement authorities.