How to make a complaint about a product or service
If you wish to make a complaint, you can do so by email, letter or telephone, however we encourage you to make your complaint in writing wherever possible. All complaints should be made within 90 days of the date that the event occurred, or the date that the issue came to your attention.
Please note that we can only discuss personal information and deal with complaints from the customer, for example, one of our exams candidates or the confirmed representative from an organisation involved in a British Council programme.
You may wish to have a third party act on your behalf, which could be another person or organisation. Third parties may include advice organisations; professionals such as solicitors or teaching professionals, or family members and friends. Where this is the case, you will need to provide written consent to that effect. More information surrounding this can be obtained when you talk to us about your complaint.
How to make a complaint about serious wrongdoing
Use Safecall to tell us if you witness or experience actions on British Council premises, or by British Council employees, partners or customers which:
- affect the safety of children or vulnerable adults
- are harassment
- may be fraudulent
Safecall is an independent and confidential way for you to report your concerns. It is available worldwide in multiple languages.
You can contact Safecall by phone or by online form. You may choose to remain anonymous.
We value your opinion
The British Council is committed to providing a transparent, high quality and accessible service to everyone we deal with, and we hope to make your experience with us an excellent one. We want to hear your comments and suggestions about the service you experienced when you contacted us, or when using any of our products or services. We also know that sometimes things go wrong, and that’s where our complaints policy comes in. If you have a comment or complaint you wish to make, you are encouraged to talk to us, as this will help us to learn from our mistakes and improve our service wherever possible.
What we will do
Regardless of what your complaint is about, where in the world you are based or the medium you use to contact us, you will be dealt with seriously and impartially. We aim to acknowledge your complaint within three working days, and resolve it fully within ten. Where cases are more complex, or if your complaint is escalated (as outlined in ‘Handling your complaint’) longer timescales may apply, and we will notify you about these when we talk to you. We want to put things right for you wherever we can, and we work to resolve matters quickly and fairly. We will explain to you what went wrong and why, and take action to remedy the situation. Sometimes, we can only apologise for certain situations, but we will draw upon your feedback to make recommendations for future improvements.
Handling your complaint
We aim to resolve as many issues as we can the very first time you contact us. The member of staff you talk to will aim to see it through to resolution wherever possible, but he or she may need to liaise with other colleagues to make this happen.
In some cases, you may receive your response from the person or department responsible for that aspect of our work. In the infrequent cases where your complaint is of a serious nature, if you remain dissatisfied with our conclusion the matter may be escalated to a higher level. More detail surrounding this will be provided when we handle your complaint.
The general principle we follow is that complainants should, so far as possible, be put in the position they would have been in had things not gone wrong.
Our aim is to provide practical remedies wherever possible. When we get things wrong, we aim to:
- sincerely apologise and take responsibility
- acknowledge and explain what went wrong and why
- endeavour to put things right without delay
- learn lessons from your complaint to improve our services.
Under UK data protection law you have the right to ask for a copy of the information we hold on you, and the right to ask us to correct any inaccuracies in that information.
For further information on this please contact us or see britishcouncil.org/privacy
If your complaint is of a particularly serious nature and has reached our highest internal level, when responding to you we will provide information on how to have your case assessed for investigation by the relevant external organisation, should you remain dissatisfied. We have published the results from a recent review.
If we are unable to answer your question directly, then we will guide you to someone in the organisation who can. If you have a specific enquiry but do not know who to speak to, we can put you in contact with the right person or team. Our staff are trained in the use of plain English, and we aim to make the information we provide as clear as possible. We are also able to provide information in special formats, such as Braille, if this is needed.