Frequently Asked Questions About ISO 9000

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Q: If I am unhappy with an ISO 9001 registered organization, what recourse do I have?

A: People doing business with an organization that is registered to ISO 9001 sometimes ask what they can do if they are unhappy with the products or service they are receiving. Escalate your complaint, completing each of the following steps in order:

1) Begin by discussing the problem directly with the person you are disappointed with. This may be a sales person, service person, customer representative, or person actually performing the service or providing the product. Be specific about what you expected, why you expected it,  and why you are disappointed. Fulfilling contracts is an important principle in ISO 9001. Focus your discussion around the contract you feel was not carried out. This may be a description of the product in a catalog, an advertisement, or specific promises made by a sales person that you feel are incorrect. Insist that you be given a product that meets the description. You may have used a purchase order or other purchasing documents to obtain the product or service. Refer to the specific language in the purchasing documents you feel are not being met.

2) Each organization registered to ISO 9001 is required to have an ISO 9001 "Management Representative." This person is authorized by top management to ensure that the requirements of ISO 9001 are being met. If step one does not provide a resolution, contact the organization's ISO 9001 management representative and ask for help. Begin by describing your complaint and the steps you have taken so far. In addition, remind the representative that you are the customer and you expect your requirements to be understood and met. ISO 9001:2000 has the following requirements that may be helpful to refer to in this communication. Describe how you believe the organization is failing to meet these requirements: Customer Focus (5.2), Quality Policy (5.3), Quality Objectives (5.4.1), Internal Communication (5.5.3), Resource Management (6), including competence, awareness, and training (6.2.2), determining requirements (7.2.1), review of requirements (7.2.2), customer communication (7.2.3), design and development validation (7.3.6), purchasing information (7.4.2), control of production and service processes (7.5.1), preservation of product (7.5.5), monitoring customer satisfaction (8.2.1), control of nonconforming product (8.3), corrective action (8.5.2), and preventive action (8.5.3).

3) ISO 9001 requires top management to take responsibility for the organization's quality management system. Section 5.1 requires management commitment to specific quality management activities. Contact the top manager of the organization and describe your problem and expectations. If the organization has stock that is publicly traded, then the names of the top managers are publicly available.

4) Organizations that are registered to ISO 9001 have a certificate issued by a registration agency. You can find out what agency issued the certificate by searching a list of registered companies. Contact the registration agency with a description of your complaint.

The ISO organization itself develops and publishes standards, but cannot take any role in enforcement. Do not contact them for help in resolving a dispute.