Quick note on Distress & Inconvenience

What is Distress & Inconvenience?

Distress & Inconvenience (‘D&I’) is included in ‘money awards’, as specified under the Dispute Resolution rules. Under the rule, D&I is specified as being different to ‘pain and suffering’ and ‘damage to reputation’, which might seem a bit odd. However, in practical terms, pain and suffering and trouble and upset are one and the same, but damage to reputation can be seen as separate in certain circumstances.  

Overall though, D&I is designed to compensate someone for non-financial losses that have been incurred as a result of something that the business has or hasn’t done.

How do you know the right amount to award?

There’s no way we’re going to be able to nail this for you here and now, but let’s start with the fact that D&I is subjective – both in terms of coming up with a figure and how it lands. One person’s award of £100 is like all their Christmases have come at once, while another will consider it derisory.

If we can give you one rule of thumb though, look at the effects of the error and how this has impacted on the consumer. If they say there have been masses of consequences as a result of what has or hasn’t happened, you need to look into it and come up with a sum that compensates for it all if it proves to be the case

Tariffs - are they a good idea?

Bearing in mind what we’ve just said, you probably know where we’re going with this, but just to be clear, no we wouldn’t recommend tariffs.

Here’s the thing, if you set a tariff for say, a failure to update an address, then an amount for the letter not arriving at their new address. Then there’s the fact that you’ve missed the change of address on a second occasion and then you’ve sent another letter to the wrong address and it was opened by a third party…And so it goes on and before you know it you’ve made a rod for your own back. Our suggestion, don’t do it.

What if the client wants thousands and I want to award a modest sum?

We’ve exaggerated here to demonstrate our point, but we’ve seen examples where the customer and the business aren’t in the same book, let alone on the same page when it comes to what’s needed to resolve an issue.  

However, what do all of these cases have in common? Usually a breakdown in communication between the consumer and the business. It’s important that you put in the ground work before you start talking about awards to resolve things, so make sure you do your investigation thoroughly before suggesting an award.

Wanting more?

Then it's time to book on to our Getting to Grips with Distress & Inconvenience course.

During the one day workshop we cover everything you need to know about Distress & Inconvenience including:

  • Unpicking the Dispute Resolution Rules 
  • What Distress & Inconvenience does and doesn’t do
  • Weighing the evidence
  • Types of awards – does it always have to be cash? 
  • Assessing awards and what the ‘ripple’ effect means and it’s impact
  • Consistency and tariffs 
  • Setting it out for the customer
  • Tips for dealing with repeat complainers

And download our top tips guide