When to complain to an Ombudsman
If you’ve already contacted the company you have an issue with, but you haven’t managed to achieve a satisfactory resolution to your complaint, then you can consider taking your complaint to the relevant industry ombudsman. But there are some rules.
When can I take my case to the Ombudsman?
You must have raised the issue with the company at least eight weeks prior. After this, you can escalate the issue to the relevant ombudsman. The only exception is where the company sends you a deadlock letter. This is where the company accepts it cannot resolve your issue and will allow you to take your case early to the ombudsman.
What is an ombudsman?
An ombudsman is an organisation there to independently assess and resolve issues between consumers and their services, generally appointed by the Government or the industry. An ombudsman is responsible for protecting the rights of consumers or the public in general within a particular sector or industry.
One of the main responsibilities of an ombudsman is providing a mediation or arbitration service, helping to resolve complaints between businesses, organisations and consumers. This lets complainants avoid disputes without resorting to the Courts.
An ombudsman is officially independent of both the companies and the consumer.
Who pays for the ombudsman?
There is no charge to the consumer for going to the ombudsman. The company is responsible for the charge - this may be an industry charge or a cost per case.
Is the ombudsman's decision binding?
The ombudsman's decision is binding on the company if the consumer accepts the decision. If the consumer does not accept the outcome they can chose to take legal action against the decision.
Can you appeal an ombudsman decision?
Yes, all ombudsmen have an internal appeals process and you can appeal their decision. Your case will then be re-assessed by the ombudsman.
Ombudsman Services is the largest Ombudsman Service within the private sector and is the Ombudsman for energy complaints, telecoms complaints, estate agents, vets and music recording. Ombudsman Services accepts complaints from Resolver.
For in-store or online retail issues you may be able to take your case up with the Consumer Ombudsman (part of Ombudsman Services).
Some, though not all, airlines have signed up to an Alternative Dispute Resolution provider, either RetailADR or CEDR (or SOP in the case of German carriers).
The Civil Aviation Authority lists which airlines are signed up to which ADR provider here, but Resolver automatically knows which company is associated with which ADR provider.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman covers central Government services, parliamentary complaints and the NHS. To send a case to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, you must have the case passed to the Ombudsman by your MP. It does not cover private healthcare as this comes under the umbrella of insurance.
This operates in England and covers public services complaints, while Wales has the Public Services Ombudsman, Scotland the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and Northern Ireland the Northern Ireland Ombudsman. The LGO also covers public and private care homes.
This investigates complaints about the services of the legal sector. It is worth noting, however, that it is a ‘lay’ body and therefore not qualified to say whether or not legal advice is correct, nor can it offer legal advice itself. But it is there to look at your case file.
This covers the both the insurance and wider financial sectors. The ombudsman's remit includes insurance, loans, banking, and PPI claims. The ombudsman is proactive and will assist wherever it can.
This is the ombudsman to go to for complaints about estate agents, letting agents and property management sectors. It manages part of the sector with Ombudsman Services.
This ombudsman is an independent, not-for-profit, government-approved organisation set up to help resolve retail disputes.
This is effectively the ombudsman for water and sewerage customers in England and Wales. It is independent of water companies and Ofwat (the industry regulator) and provides advice and complaints resolution services.
CISAS is the second ombudsman for the telecoms market, along with Ombudsman Services. In addition, it provides the dispute resolution service for the Post Office.