Ombudsmen – what are they and how do they work?
We take a closer look at the various ombudsman organisations working with you across the UK
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.
The ombudsman is responsible for protecting the rights of consumers or the public in general in a particular sector or industry – in fact, the name derives from a Scandinavian term meaning ‘fair man’.
One of the main responsibilities of an ombudsman is as 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.
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 requirements – and if you raise your case via Resolver, the system will let you know when your particular issue has met these requirements.
If you've not raised your complaint direct with the company first - do that free via Resolver, and our system will help you take things on to the necessary ombudsman
When can I take my case to the ombudsman?
You must have raised the issue with the company at least 8 weeks ago. After the 8 weeks you can raise the issue to the relevant ombudsman. The only exception is where the company issues a deadlock letter. The deadlock letter is where the company accepts it cannot resolve your issue and will allow you to take your case early to the ombudsman.
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. Most ombudsmen work on a cost-per-case basis.
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.
Which ombudsman for you?
Read our guide to the UK's major ombudsmen, which ones to use and when.