East Devon District Council

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Policy Policy for unreasonable customer behaviour and vexatious requests

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2. What is unreasonable customer behaviour?

We define unreasonable behaviour as:

‘Unreasonable complainants are those who, because of the nature or frequency of their contacts with the council, negatively impact our ability to deal effectively with their or other people’s complaints’.

Unreasonable behaviour may include one or two isolated incidents, as well as unreasonably persistent behaviour, which is usually an accumulation of incidents or behaviour over a longer period.

We differentiate between ‘persistent’ customers and ‘unreasonably persistent’ customers.

Customers making a complaint can be ‘persistent’ where they feel we have not dealt with their complaint properly and are not prepared to leave the matter there. For example, it is not unreasonable for a customer to criticise how their complaint is being handled when our published procedures are not followed.

However, some customers may have justified complaints or requests but may pursue them in inappropriate ways such as lengthy phone calls, emails expecting immediate responses, detailed letters or emails every few days.  Others may pursue complaints or requests which have no substance or which have already been considered and dealt with. Their contacts with us may be amicable but still place very heavy demands on staff.

Situations can escalate, and in a few cases customers can become abusive, offensive, threatening or behave in a way that we may consider to be unacceptable.

In these circumstances, we may have to restrict access to our premises or staff.