Where do you go when your complaint isn’t resolved? The ombudsman, of course! But how many of us use them? Here’s Helen Dewdney, also known as The Complaining Cow, raising awareness of ombudsmen.
Various surveys this year found that consumers are unsure about their rights. Some of those will go on to complain and some of those will be fobbed off by traders. Of those that continue to complain when things go wrong, very few will carry on to the Small Claims Court or ombudsman route.
With Small Claims Court fee rises this year many people will be discouraged from using that route. It is possible that ombudsmen will become more popular, but it is still the case that many people do not know of the various ones out there.
Here, of course, Which? readers will mostly be au fait with their rights and knowledge of ombudsmen, but what more can be done to inform people? Most of us have heard about the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and those that cover the communications industry. But I only found out recently that there is a Furniture Ombudsman! Who knew?
There are of course issues with ombudsmen services. I’ve found using the FOS a very simple and easy process, but my complaints were basic and clear cut and should never have really reached the stage of the FOS. It still all took time though and I have heard from people who have been months and years battling with the FOS.
My experience using the communications ombudsman CISAS wasn’t good. I used it many years ago and it was fine, but this year I found that the administration was atrocious. Staff took weeks to reply to emails and in the meantime I was sending further information which they did not add to the submitted form. A very frustrating experience all round.
I’d be interested to hear others’ experience of using an ombudsman and thoughts on how services could be improved to make people more aware of them and ultimately to use them.
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is by Helen Dewdney, author and blogger at The Complaining Cow. All opinions expressed here are Helen’s own, not necessarily those of Which?