General complaints policy

The Fairtrade Foundation (Fairtrade) is an independent non-profit organisation in the UK. We are committed to providing a high quality service as part of our ongoing work with consumers, campaigners, supporters, partners and businesses amongst others.

We welcome compliments and also, when things do not go according to plan, we believe that it is important that you know how to make a complaint and that this is handled fairly and effectively. 

Although you may wish to log your complaint with external organisations, we ask that you please come through our channels and procedure in the first instance. 

Please note, if you have a general query about our work at Fairtrade Foundation, for example, a request for information, contractual dispute or you wish to unsubscribe from any of our services (such as campaign newsletters), please contact the team that delivered the service who will be pleased to assist you or use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our informational emails. If you would like to make a formal complaint please follow the process below. If you wish to make a complaint about Fundraising, please contact our Fundraising team and see our Fundraising Complaints & Feedback Policy.

The principles of our general complaints policy

We encourage feedback from anybody involved in our work or using our services. We are committed to maintaining high standards across all of our activities and receiving feedback or complaints enables us to improve our services to you. 

If you are unhappy with anything that Fairtrade has done, please tell us so that we can try to resolve the issue quickly. We will make a distinction between informal complaints, where we can resolve the issue quickly and formal complaints which need to be investigated. 

Everyone who makes a complaint to Fairtrade Foundation will be treated with respect and in return, we expect people who make a complaint to communicate their concerns fairly and appropriately. We reserve the right to withdraw or modify our complaints process where complainants harass staff, behave abusively or unreasonably pursue complaints. 

Making a formal complaint 

If you wish to make a formal complaint, we want to make communication with us as easy as possible. Complainants should be able to make a complaint in writing or by telephone to our registered address and main number or by email to the email address set out in this policy under the Complaints Contact section. Where a complaint is made by telephone, we may ask you to follow up in writing or email. All complaints will be acknowledged. We will consider anonymous complaints but it may be difficult to investigate if we cannot respond to you directly and these may therefore be on a more limited basis. 

Complaints should be made as soon as possible after the relevant incident and in any event within 3 months. In exceptional cases, Fairtrade Foundation may be able to respond to an older complaint but it may be harder to resolve the complaint satisfactorily and fairly after such time.

Our response

Fairtrade will try to satisfactorily resolve any complaint as promptly as possible. We aim to formally acknowledge any complaint within five working days. 

Fairtrade Foundation aims to complete looking into your complaint and be able to respond to you within 20 working days of receipt. In the event that a complaint cannot be resolved within this time frame, for example if it becomes clear that a complex investigation is necessary, or a safeguarding investigation or disciplinary proceedings are involved, it will take longer than this as these will take precedence over the complaints process. We will contact you to explain the delay and, as far as we can, inform you about the progress being made to date and when you can expect to receive a response. We aim to ensure that all cases that involve only an internal investigation will be completed within 6 months.

We will handle any information received confidentially. Some complaints need to remain confidential in order to safeguard those making or involved in the complaint. However, in some instances we may decide that others need to be involved in the resolution of a complaint. Third parties will only be involved in the resolution of confidential complaints on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, we may also need to take advice from our regulator, professional advisors or a law enforcement body. In the very small number of cases that involve external authorities, it may not be possible to complete our investigation within 6 months but we will try to keep you updated as far as possible.

If a complaint is upheld, preventative action for the future will be identified and implemented. You will be notified of the actions taken unless confidentiality or data protection requirements prevent this.

If you are still dissatisfied

Complainants who have made a well-founded serious complaint but the complaint is not upheld, will be able to appeal the decision by notifying us. Your appeal will be escalated to one of the senior leadership team, a review of the response to your complaint will take place and a decision made after an examination of the processes that have led to the previous response. You will be notified of the outcome of the appeal within a further 20 working days of receipt of the appeal notice. 

After the appeal, there is no further appeal process. However, if you are still unhappy with the outcome, you can contact our regulator, The Charity Commission for England and Wales. If your complaint relates to fundraising, you can contact The Fundraising Regulator. If your complaint relates to the protection of your personal information, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO).

Complaints contact information

In order to resolve your complaint, we will need some information from you:

  • Your name and contact details
  • What your complaint is about
  • When and where the issue arose
  • If you have already complained, the date on which you did so
  • The names of the people involved 
  • Any related concerns or comments you wish to bring to our attention.

Contact details

Email us via:

Call us at: (0)20 7440 7676 (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm)

Write to us at our registered address:

  • Attention: Complaints
  • The Fairtrade Foundation, 5.7 The Loom,
  • 14 Gowers Walk,
  • London E1 8PY

Post compliments and complaints monitoring and learning

We will log and monitor all formal and informal complaints and compliments centrally. Fundraising complaints are logged and monitored separately by the fundraising team. An annual summary of compliments and complaints, identifying trends, patterns, learning opportunities and any improvement made or required in the quality of our services as a result is prepared for the senior leadership team and the trustees of Fairtrade, so that we can learn from what we do and how we do it. This information will not necessarily be available to the public. 

We are a member of a global Fairtrade network. If any complaint is received which relates to Fairtrade International or another Fairtrade entity, we will in our sole discretion, notify them if we decide it is appropriate to do so. 

This General Complaints Policy may be modified from time to time, and any updated policy will appear on our website.