Yesterday I was in Edinburgh discussing Scottish consumer protection with finance secretary John Swinney. One proposal was to create a single ‘super ombudsman’ to handle all complaints and disputes…
The plan would create a one-stop shop to handle all types of complaints and disputes, including financial ones, to replace the 95 or so ombudsman schemes in the UK.
It’s good to see the Scottish Government putting consumers at the heart of their proposals to reform regulation in Scotland. We fully support a single consumer ombudsman to deal with complaints right across the economy. The current UK wide system leaves consumers without the option of alternative dispute resolution in certain sectors, like travel.
Regulators that put you first
At Which? we understand the desire for a simpler, more focused system. But whatever form it ultimately takes, we want to see regulators that are proactive and that put you, the consumer, first.
For the changes to be effective, consumers must be taken seriously, and regulators should be given the powers they need to stand up to rogue businesses and act on unfair markets.
An effective redress mechanism could help to restore consumer trust in markets, which would potentially drive up business standards and increase competition. It’s positive for businesses, markets and the economy if we feel well protected and are confident that we’ll be treated fairly.
Nipping mis-selling scandals in the bud
A consumer ombudsman could also help to identify systemic failures that can be fixed before widespread mis-selling or other problems take root. This could mean we avoid seeing huge scandals like Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). We would also like to see additional powers to allow regulators or consumer groups to take collective action when many people have been affected by the same problem.
Would you like to see a single ‘super ombudsman’ introduced in the UK? Have you ever had to turn to an ombudsman for help – how did you get on?