The following represents necessary steps when filing a complaint against an accredited Certification Body, or an IAF-signatory Accreditation Body. It does not apply to filing complaints against unaccredited, or self-accredited, certificate mills.
This procedure is not to be used for contesting an audit finding or nonconformance. In such cases, you file an appeal by emailing your rationale as to why you feel the nonconformance is invalid; see this helpful article on how to challenge a invalid finding from your registrar. If that fails, then you may file a complaint.
To process a complaint against a CB, and possibly escalate it to higher bodies, you must follow this order. If you skip any step, the particular party will just throw it back until you follow the sequence.
- You must first submit the complaint directly to the CB. Do not send to a sales representative, but try to find out the proper person within the CB responsible for processing complaints. You can call the CB to find this out, but resist their requests for information on the complaint, as they will try to resolve it over the phone to avoid a formal record. Simply ask for the contact name, and thank them.
- Submit the complaint in writing. Email is fine, but maintain records of all your communications. Consider using this helpful template (.DOCX file, right click and save to your local drive.)
- Request that the CB acknowledge receipt, and wait.
- Resist all attempts by the CB to resolve the problem over the phone or in person. Ensure that the problem is resolved in writing, and that the CB is using their official corrective action process to investigate. You must ensure they maintain a record. If they demand a phone call, record it; but you must tell them in advance that you intend to do so.
- If the CB reacts with hostility, or with threats of litigation, end the contact. Coordinate with your internal Legal Department.
- Allow proper time for the CB to investigate and respond.
- Do not assume you are right; your case may not be as strong as you think. The CB may have a very valid reason for the problem, and their response may be entirely acceptable. Make sure you assess any response with an open mind.
- If the response is inadequate, write back and tell them so. You may give them another chance to clarify things, but it’s optional.
- If you are certain you have a firm complaint and the response was inadequate, you may now escalate to the Accreditation Body.
- Find out which AB is responsible for the accreditation of the CB in your region. This will usually be the AB whose logo appears on your ISO certificate. You may also check by verifying the CB’s website. Find out the appropriate contact within the AB with whom to file complaints. For ANAB, the complaint portal may be found online, at this link.
- Write the complaint again, but this time reword it as a request for the AB to investigate the CB.
- Obtain acknowledgement of receipt, and wait.
- If the AB’s response is inadequate, you have to file a complaint against the AB itself for improper complaints processing. You will reference the original complaint, but now the focus is on the AB, requesting it investigate itself and taken internal corrective action.
- If the AB’s response to this complaint is inadequate, escalate the complaint to the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). Submit this to firstname.lastname@example.org and frame the complaint as one against the AB for two concerns: (1) failing to adequately address the original complaint against the CB, and (2) failing to properly process a complaint lodged against the AB itself.
- If you still do not get an adequate response, contact Oxebridge for what other options you may have.