We are an independent, not-for-profit, government approved organisation set up to help resolve disputes and raise standards.
We offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) training and advice to organisations and consumers in the retail, furniture, and home improvement industries, helping both sides reach a fair and reasonable outcome, which is binding on our members.
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 organisations. 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 choose to give their consumers free access to our ADR service. If our members were not registered with us, their customers would not be able to use the scheme and instead might have to pay to use the Courts.
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 Courts.
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.
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.
We are obliged under our government approval, the law, and the Ombudsman Association to report the data that we provide in our Annual Review on our website.
By law, organisations 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 and law.
Read about our other schemes
The Rail Ombudsman
The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman