SBC’s vexatious complaints

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Customers who pursue their complaints with Scottish Borders Council in an “unacceptable manner” may find the way blocked in future.

Councillors are about to vote on whether to introduce a vexatious complaints and correspondence policy to deal with habitual complainers, and “unreasonably persistent or demanding customers” so that council officers can provide “a quality service to customers as a whole”.

“The vast majority of people who raise an issue with the council are doing so because they have a legitimate and genuine concern that the council has failed them in some way,” said a council spokesperson.

“However a minority of people pursue their complaints or correspondence in a way which can either impede the investigation of their complaint or can have significant resource issues for the council in terms of correspondence and investigation.”

Councillors were told of one customer who, over a six month period, sent the council 246 emails, council officers responding 189 times.

The vexatious complaints policy would be approved by a complaints review group (three senior officers) but only after an SBC officer has contacted the person to explain the effect of their behaviour and outlining the action the council will take if the behaviour continues. Applying it will only be done in exceptional circumstances, the final decision taken by the council’s chief executive after which the complainant will be notified about why the decision was reached and outlining their right to contact the Scottish Ombudsman.