What to expect from us

Great customer service is at the heart of what we do. We want to deliver reliable and consistent services and focus on the services that matter most to you.

Staff member on computer

Getting in touch

We want to be sure you get great service each and every time you contact us, and we publish our performance every quarter to show our commitment to great service.

We treat all of our customers fairly and with respect. If you need any additional assistance, please let us know and we’ll make sure we communicate with you in the way that suits you.

When you call us

  • We’ll aim to answer your call within 30 seconds
  • Our staff will always give you their name
  • If we need to ring you back, we’ll return your call as soon as we can and within two working days.

When you email us

  • We’ll usually respond to your email within two working days.

When you write to us

  • We’ll get back to you as soon as possible and within five working days
  • If we can’t solve your issue in that time, we’ll let you know who is dealing with it and when you can expect a full reply.

If you need us to visit you at home

  • We’ll always agree an appointment time with you in advance
  • We’ll make sure our staff and contractors always show you their identity badge.

Code of conduct

Our code of conduct covers all contact we have with our customers, whether we are meeting face to face, talking on the telephone, exchanging emails; or communicating on social media or live chat.

We expect Guinness employees and customers to each:

  • be respectful and courteous
  • be reasonable
  • be honest
  • help us to provide the best services we can.

We will take appropriate action when either employees or customers behave inappropriately.

For employees, inappropriate behaviour includes accepting bribes, or benefiting personally from the service they provide.
For customers, behaviour could become inappropriate when making unreasonable demands. It also includes behaving unreasonably towards our employees.

We’ve explained below what we mean by unreasonable behaviour and unreasonable demands.

Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour is aggressive or abusive behaviour towards our employees. By aggression we don’t just mean physical harm. Aggression also includes behaviour or language that may make our employees feel afraid, intimidated, threatened, or abused. Some examples of what we consider to be aggressive behaviour are:

  • threats of violence or harm
  • physical violence
  • personal abuse
  • shouting
  • derogatory or discriminatory remarks (on the grounds of, but not limited to, ethnicity, colour, age, religion, political beliefs, disability, illness, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, learning difficulty, appearance or employment status)
  • malicious or otherwise inflammatory statements, or unsubstantiated allegations e.g. about our employees or other customers.

Unreasonable demands on our employees

What appears to be reasonable behaviour also becomes unreasonable if that behaviour negatively affects our ability to do our work. This might be because of the excessive amount of information requested or provided, the unreasonably high level of service expected above our agreed service standards, or the excessive number of approaches made to us.

Examples of what we consider to be unreasonable demands are:

  • demanding a response within an unreasonable or unattainable timescale
  • insisting on communicating with one particular employee and no one else
  • an excessively high volume of contact
  • repeatedly changing the substance of a complaint or request for service, thereby preventing us from resolving the issue or issues
  • unreasonably complaining to us about matters that are not our responsibility.

Our approach to unreasonable behaviour

How we respond to unreasonable behaviour depends on the nature and extent of it. When we do respond we will aim to bring the unreasonable behaviour to an end and protect our employees.

We recognise that sometimes there are health or welfare reasons which have contributed to a customer behaving in a particular way. We will try to ascertain whether this is the case and work with them to provide additional support wherever we can.

On rare occasions, bringing the unreasonable behaviour to an end may include restricting the method or frequency of contact. This could include taking legal action and/or reporting the action to the police. We call this a contact restriction.

If we put a contact restriction in place we will always respond to the customer in the appropriate way if an emergency occurs.

Customer appeals and review periods

If we put a contact restriction in place, a customer may appeal against our decision to do this.

Any contact restriction put in place will be for a limited time and reviewed, usually after 12 months.

Making a complaint

We work hard to provide a great service for all our customers but there may be times when we don’t get things right. When we make a mistake we will always apologise, aim to put it right and do things better so we don’t make the same mistake again. We learn from our mistakes and use your feedback to improve our services.

If you need more information, take a look at our complaints and compensation policy.

Who can make a complaint?

Any customer and anyone who’s been affected by a service failure. You can also ask a representative to complain for you, including but not limited to:

  • A health or care worker
  • Someone who has lasting power of attorney for you
  • A guardian
  • A “designated person” who can act on your behalf, such as an MP or local councillor

What's the complaints process?

Our complaints process has two stages.

Stage One

  • As soon as you tell us about your complaint we’ll try to sort it out straight away. If we’ve made a mistake, we’ll say sorry and let you know what we’ll do to put things right
  • Sometimes we need more time to investigate, but we’ll let you know as quickly as possible and agree with you what will happen next within 10 working days

You must make your complaint within six months of the issue happening.

Stage Two

  • If your complaint can’t be resolved or a solution isn’t agreed, you can ask us to take the complaint to the second stage for a full and final independent review. This will be done by a manager that hasn’t been involved in Stage One to ensure they are objective.
    You will need to let us know why you would like to escalate your complaint and what we could have done differently in Stage One
  • We will contact you within two working days of you asking us to move your complaint to Stage Two
  • We will let you know the final outcome within 10 working days

Complaints about our care services are often more complex, so we may take up to 28 days to provide the final result

Once your complaint has been closed at Stage One, if you’re not happy with the result, you have 6 months to ask us to continue to Stage Two.

What do we do with complaints?

We take every complaint seriously and aim to deal with them quickly

We tell you how we use the information you give us to investigate and resolve your complaint

We treat you fairly and with respect. We give you extra help if you need it – including translations, braille versions or audio tapes of information

Sometimes we will decide it is not necessary or appropriate to proceed with a complaint. This might be because:

  • We reserve the right to refuse to deal with people who make lots of unfounded complaints
  • We won’t investigate complaints that happened more than six months ago.
  • If your complaint is about a legal or insurance issue, we will handle it differently to other complaints
  • We also handle complaints about anti-social behaviour differently.

Find out how we handle anti-social behaviour.

What if I’m not satisfied with the result?

If you don’t think we’ve handled your complaint well please let us know. You can seek advice from a “designated person”, such as your local councillor or MP.  They can help to solve the problem between you and us, or might refer it to the Housing Ombudsman.

You can also contact the Housing Ombudsman directly, but you must first wait eight weeks after hearing our final response.

You can contact the Ombudsman, by writing to:
Exchange Tower
Harbour Exchange Square
E14 9GE

Phone: 0300 111 3000
Email: info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk.

If you’re not happy with a complaint about our care services, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman by writing to:
PO Box 4771,

Phone: 0300 061 0614
Visit: www.lgo.org.uk

What about compensation?

We know how important it is to be honest and say sorry when we get things wrong. Sometimes this may involve a goodwill gesture or compensation.

We won’t pay compensation if something has gone wrong but it isn’t our fault, but we’ll always carry out repairs to remedy any situation where it is our responsibility to do so.

We may offer you compensation if we can’t put things right or have failed to meet our responsibilities and, as a result:

  • Your belongings have been lost or damaged. We’ll ask for receipts as proof of ownership and may make deductions to account for wear and tear
  • You have been left without basic facilities for some time e.g. no water in your home
  • Our failure has caused you undue distress

In some cases, our insurance company will deal with your claim.

We won’t offer compensation if:

  • There’s no clear evidence of a service failure
  • You haven’t suffered a financial loss
  • You caused the problem yourself. For example, if you caused a leak by fitting a shower incorrectly
  • The problem was caused by a neighbour
  • The problem was caused by someone carrying out work that we didn’t authorise

If we ask you to move out of your home—temporarily or permanently—so we can carry out major building works, we’ll pay your removal expenses and other agreed costs.

We always recommend that you have your own contents insurance policy to protect your belongings, like the National Housing Federation’s My Home contents insurance.

About our financial services

We provide limited financial services in relation to debt administration. For example, we assist some local authorities with equity loans; offer credit brokering services and debt counselling to our customers. We hope you’re happy with any financial service we provide, but if not, please let us know so we can put it right.

How can I make a complaint about a Guinness financial service?

The best way to contact us is in writing, but you can also speak to us via our customer service team.

Write to:

The Guinness Partnership
Bower House
1 Stable Street

What's the process?

If you make a complaint, we’ll be in touch within five working days to let you know we’ve received it.

We’ll investigate your complaint and get a full response back to you within eight weeks.

We may need to review your personal details or ask you for further information.

What if it's not fixed?

If we don’t respond within eight weeks, or you’re not happy with our response, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Please do give us the full eight weeks to put this right before contacting them.

The Financial Ombudsman Service
Exchange Tower
E14 9SR

Tel: 0300 123 9123
Website: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

It’s worth contacting them to discuss your complaint before referring it because the FOS doesn’t deal with some types of complaints.

You should contact the FOS as soon as you can after our final response, and certainly within six months. After this, the FOS has the discretion to review your complaint or not.