We are an independent, not-for-proﬁt, government approved Ombudsman. We offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) training and advice to traders and consumers in the retail, furniture, and home improvement industries. We are a voluntary scheme, as such each of our members choose to work with us and trust us with their most priced asset; their customers.
We were set up by the Ofﬁce of Fair Trading in 1992 and pride ourselves with the incredible expertise that we have acquired over the past 28 years, including accredited training, diverse team of professionals, a membership base that covers corporations and independent traders. Last but not least, we work tirelessly to protect consumers’ rights and promote fair trade.
We are a voluntary ombudsman scheme which means that our members chose to give their consumers free access to our Alternative Dispute Resolution service. If our members were not registered with us, their customers would not be able to use our services and instead might have to pay to use the Court.
We publish our overall case figures annually but we do not discuss individual cases or businesses. Our decisions are binding on our members but are not binding on consumers, so using our service does not prevent a consumer from using the Court if they don't like our decision.
We do not discuss or publish case figures about individual businesses because that could deter them from voluntarily being members in the first place, which in turn would mean that consumers would not be able to use our free services. We also do not have access to various business data, i.e. sales volumes, and therefore we could not represent case numbers within a meaningful context.
We are obliged under our government approval, the law, and the Ombudsman Association to report the data that we provide in our Annual Review and on our website, and we do this to the fullest extent required. Because not all businesses are members, if we were to only publish our members’ data (and not offer a full industry view, including businesses that choose not to provide their consumers with ADR), it might unduly distort the picture of the industry.
However, we do understand that transparency is very important and that's why a Standards Board oversees our work and has access to our cases.
By law, retailers and many other traders do not have to be a member of an ombudsman. In England and Wales, there are a few regulated industries where all businesses operating in that industry must be member of an ombudsman scheme. These include finance, pensions, communications, public services, energy, law, etc.