Ombudsman Services is launching a new service that will accept all consumer complaints.
The newly created consumer ombudsman will be able to receive complaints relating to the conduct of sectors that don’t have a current ombudsman. This includes retail, home maintenance, improvement or installation services, second-hand cars, car repairs and car servicing. The ombudsman is for any unresolved complaint a consumer has with an organisation, meaning that all internal complaints processes must have been attempted.
Consumers are able to register complaints with the consumer ombudsman regarding goods and services bought after 1 January 2015. The move has caused some controversy in the business community regarding the new obligations that will be placed on businesses dealing with complaints.
John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “As of Thursday 1 October 2015 companies will be required by law to make consumers aware of a relevant alternative dispute resolution scheme e.g. the new consumer ombudsman. While this is a potential headache for small firms, we’re glad that the usage is not compulsory which would have added even more burdensome red tape.”
Consumer ombudsman process
The consumer ombudsman outlines a 5 step process for consumers that would like to lodge a complaint:
- The consumer should first ensure that the company they are unhappy with is aware of the exact nature of their complaint.
- All contact with the company from the first complaint should be gathered as potential evidence for the ombudsman.
- The company in question should be given a “reasonable opportunity” to resolve the original complaint.
- The consumer should contact the consumer ombudsman who will then contact the company in question.
- The resolution will either be resolved through the agreement of both parties or settled in a small claims court.
The company that is having the complaint lodged against them can choose whether or not they are willing to work with the ombudsman to reach a resolution.