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New consumer complaints service launches

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Ombudsman Services has launched a new offering for UK citizens who have complaints about goods or services, giving people an alternative to taking a grievance through the courts.

The Consumer Ombudsman will take on cases in industries that are not currently served by an ombudsman such as retail, home maintenance, improvements and installation services, second hand cars and auto repairs. It is intended to serve as a ‘one stop shop’ for consumer complaints.

Consumers will be able to submit their complaints directly, via the body’s dedicated website. Click here to visit the site.

The launch follows the release of figures from the Consumer Action Monitor suggesting there were 66 million complaints about products and services last year – equating to a complaint every 1.2 seconds.

It also revealed that many people who have a problem take no action, with 40 million grievances not pursued in the belief complaining is ‘not worth the hassle’.

Consumers also admit to finding the process of complaining too daunting, along with the legal system being complicated, hard to access and increasingly expensive.

“Our research shows that as a nation we’re complaining more than ever before, but that frustratingly we don’t always know where to go,” said Lewis Shand Smith, chief ombudsman at Ombudsman Services.

“As a result, we’ve opened our doors to complaints in any sector. This is good for consumers because it will provide swift, independent resolution to a problem without the risk of legal bills and drawn-out court proceedings. It’s also good for business as having a proper redress system in place means they will build up consumers’ trust.”

The launch comes in advance of a new EU directive, due to be implemented in October 2015, which asks all member states to make Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) available across all consumer sectors.

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