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1. GENERAL
ABC Disputes
The general procedure shall be used with the following exception: complaints and disputes involving ABC requirements and performance by certificate bodies and certificate holders has to be solved by ABC if they cannot be solved among the parties involved.
Complaint policy
We care about customers and stakeholders, and commit ourselves to deliver in accordance with customers’ and stakeholders´ expectations. We always conduct all our business with uncompromising integrity and professionalism. We will:
• Collect, assess, and analyze customers’ and stakeholders´ feedback, to learn and ensure that our performance meets needs and expectations. 
• Handle any complaint in an effective and efficient way. 
• Communicate promptly and clearly with any complainant. 

2. PROCESS CRITERIA 
2.1 Handling of comments
Evaluation of information received from stakeholders after the main evaluation
Comments received from stakeholders after the main evaluation shall be recorded, and evaluated and documented at the following surveillance evaluation, unless provided as part of a formal complaint or indicating a major non-conformity requiring immediate action. This means situations not possible to post-phone to the next surveillance audit, I e threatened HCV, conversion of forest land etc.
Comments received shall be sent to a Lead Auditor for evaluation if the comment indicates a Major non-conformity that requires immediate action or not. 
Comments indicating a Major non-conformity that requires immediate action shall be taken care of without any delay. A Lead Auditor shall be assigned to investigate the case as soon as possible, at the latest during the next Complaint and appeal Board meeting. 
2.2 Handling of complaints and appeals 
Responsibility to handle complaints/claims on commercial issues or on performance of auditors is on the Market Unit (Local Unit).
All other complaints from third party or stakeholders shall be handled by the accredited unit. In all complaint handling both the accredited unit and the local unit shall keep each other informed of status, progress, corrective actions and decisions. All appeals (dispute on the outcome of complaint/claim) shall be handled by the accredited unit. All communication with the third party or stakeholders shall be done by the local unit and ABC shall respond to complaints and appeals in the same language that is used in the public summary certification report, or shall agree with the complainant on the language used.
ABC shall retain the anonymity of the complainant in relation to the client, if this is requested by the complainant. 

ABC shall treat anonymous complaints and expressions of dissatisfaction that are not substantiated as complaints as stakeholder comments and address these during the next audit. 

ABC shall register all complaints with scheme owners or Accreditation bodies.
The members of the complaint and appeal board shall be within the certification body’s contractual (e.g. employee) or organizational control (e.g. committee). The decision resolving the complaint or appeal shall be made by, or reviewed and approved by, person(s) not involved in the evaluation related to the complaint or appeal.
ABC has the duty of seeking a timely resolution of complaints and appeals.
ABC has published summary information about the procedures for submitting complaints, appeals and disputes, and the procedures for handling such complaints, appeals and disputes on the website and will also send this information in print on request. This information is publicly available in Chinese on the ABC website. 
Procedure:
Complaints and appeals are registered at both the local and the accredited unit. An initial response sent from the Accredited unit, including an outline of the proposed course of action to follow up on the complaint or appeal, is sent to the complainant within two (2) weeks of receiving the complaint or appeal (autoreply when the complaint mail address is used).
ABC shall, in addition to the autoreply, confirm whether the complaint or appeal relates to certification activities for which it is responsible and, if so, shall address it.  
ABC shall also check that the complaint includes all necessary information, including a clear description with details and cause of the complaint and objective evidence to support each element or aspect of the complaint. If any information is lacking ABC shall get back to the complainant and ask for the missing information.
There is a Complaint and Appeal meeting every month, and all incoming complaints during the time since last meeting shall be handled and an progress report shall be sent to the complainant after the meeting.
To secure a good understanding of the complaint/appeal, the complainant should be contacted, a verbal meeting is preferred, and the aspects of the case to be discussed. ABC shall verify the understanding of the case, and as far as possible the staff handling the case shall be in verbal communication with the complainant and the certificated organisation. In cases where the complaint/appeal is clearly described and the answers from the certified organisation are clear and understandable, this initial contact and verbal contact, is not needed.
ABC shall keep the complainant(s) informed of progress in evaluating the complaint/appeal, and shall have investigated the allegations and specified all its proposed actions in response to the complaint or appeal within three (3) months of receiving the complaint or appeal. 
The complaint and appeal board is responsible for gathering and verifying all necessary information (as far as possible) to progress the complaint or appeal to a decision. The board can delegate this to Qualified Auditors, except for the decision.
When the process leads to non-conformity, suspension or withdrawal, the List Of findings shall be updated and sent to the customer. In cases of recommendation for suspension or withdrawal the result has to be sent to Technical Review for decision making.
Full implementation of actions and confirmation of implementation (e.g. correction and closing out of non compliances that may have been identified as a result of the complaint or appeal) shall be completed in compliance with the related requirements specified by ABC.
The complaint and appeal board shall notify the complainant when the complaint is considered to be closed, meaning that the certification body has gathered and verified all necessary information, investigated the allegations, taken a decision on the complaint and responded to the complainant. 
A complainant shall be offered the opportunity to refer their complaint to scheme owners or Accreditation bodies, if the issue has not been resolved through the full implementation of the certification body’s own procedures, or if the complainant disagrees with the conclusions reached by the certification body and/ or is dissatisfied by the way the certification body handled the complaint. As the ultimate step, the complaint may be referred to scheme owners or Accreditation bodies. 
Complaints/ allegations of misuse of the logo shall be handled without delay. The certificate holder shall be contacted and verifying documents for purchase and sales shall be sent to ABC within two (2) weeks of receiving a complaint/ allegation and a notification shall be sent to ABC. If the matter cannot be solved through desk audit, a short-notice audit shall be performed as soon as possible.
For certificates that are withdrawn as a consequence of misuse of the CB logo, the case is handled over to ABC. 

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