Categories
ADR Ombudsman

Ask the Chief Ombudsman: Furniture & Home Improvement

Kevin Grix writes a guest blog post

Shopping

It seems that we are a nation built upon a love for retail therapy. Shopping on the high street is an ever popular leisure activity and even when we are relaxing at home it’s possible to purchase via our laptops, tablets and smart phones with delivery direct to our doors.  There are always issues such as Sunday trading hours, online shopping, deliveries and the impact of a ‘Brexit’ on the high street  in the news. This helps  illustrate the impact that shopping has on our daily lives.

All of us are consumers and at one point or another it’s inevitable that we’ll feel let down with a product that we have purchased or a service that we have received.

Billions of transactions take place each year – tills ring out across the country from Monday to Sunday. Shoppers walk away happy most of the time. And so, it’s helpful to keep things in perspective.

What are the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman and The Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman?

The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman (DRO) incorporates The Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman. Established in 1992 it is a Government approved not-for-profit Ombudsman scheme. It has been providing independent dispute resolution services to consumers and retailers for over 25 years, making it one of the oldest and most important Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services in the country.

What do TFHIO and DRO deal with?

During all these years we have helped to resolve tens of thousands of problems with all sorts of goods and services.  Our members include most of the largest high street retailers in the country. But we also have lots of independent stores too, making our jurisdiction across thousands of retail outlets. In fact the widest of its kind in the United Kingdom. Traders, customers and consumer champions like The Complaining Cow Helen Dewdney, trust us because of our heritage, independence, and the work that we do to raise standards.

The majority of the issues that we see are often limited to expensive big ticket purchases; furniture, kitchens, bathrooms and other home improvement installations. We can investigate disputes involving all sorts of other smaller value retail goods and services (and sometimes we do). However there isn’t usually much need for us to get involved. Why? It’s probably because smaller faulty items are more easily returned by the customer to shop in exchange for a suitable remedy such as a repair, replacement or refund – and that’s what usually happens.

Generally speaking, responsible retailers are good at putting things right for their customers if things go wrong. Thankfully many of those retailers subscribe to our scheme which gives us the power to put things right if they do go wrong.  It’s worth remembering that retailers have been trading for several hundred years. Way back in the early 1900s, retail pioneer Harry Selfridge was attributed with the quote “the customer is always right”. He knew how important it is to keep them happy, to reward their loyalty, and encourage repeat custom.

Independent Furniture Reports

When a case comes to us, we may undertake an independent report. This will determine if the fault lies with the company or not. The company pays for this and the whole service from start to finish is free to consumers. It is a myth that Ombudsmen see in favour of companies because they pay to be a member. Companies pay to be members and per case.

Rip Off Britain talking getting redress with independent reports and ombudsmen

5 Top Tips for preventing problems when shopping

But things sometimes do go wrong and here are five of my top tips on what you can do to limit the risk of that happening – and what you can do to put it right:

  1. Make sure the goods or services that you are considering purchasing are going to be right for your needs, especially if it’s an expensive purchase – do your research and shop around.
  2. If you feel that you need to complain, understand what your rights are and be realistic about what you are entitled to receive from the trader to put it right. There are some great consumer law resources available to buy or to download online.
  3. Tell the trader why you are unhappy and what you would like them to do about it. Try using a reliable template to write an effective letter or email. This will help you to keep things clear and orderly.
  4. If you are buying furniture or other home improvement goods or services such as a kitchen, bathroom or flooring, always shop with a member of The Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman because if things do go wrong you will have free and independent redress.
  5. If the goods or services that you’re purchasing aren’t furniture or home improvements check to see if the trader is registered with Dispute Resolution Ombudsman. If things go wrong with those you will receive free and independent advice.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

ADR – all about it for World Ombudsman Day Links to all the investigations and research etc about ADR

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): What it all means post that explains what it is all about and how you can use it.

5 myths about Ombudsman providers busted common misconceptions about Ombudsmen.

Government and regulators continue to fail on resolving consumer disputes this post describes how government funded bodies are failing to regulate the non regulated ADR sector. Links to other posts and reports.

Landing in court with Ryanair warning about using AviationADR when dealing with aviation complaints.

Energy ombudsman shows how to keep heat on your supplier a  guest post from the Energy Chief Ombudsman outlining how to ensure you get a satisfactory response when you submit a case to an  Ombudsman.

Ombudsman Omnishambles and More Ombudsman Omnishambles the research reports. The look at how some ADR schemes such as the one run by Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited which used to run The Retail Ombudsman and lost the title are monitored.

Westminster Business Forum seminar Next steps for consumer protection in the UK – dispute processes, enforcement and the consumer markets green paper. 15/11/18

Presentation. Alternative Dispute Resolution – approval and oversight in the loosest possible sense of the words…

How approval bodies are failing to properly approve and monitor Alternative Dispute Resolution -

 

Kevin Grix bibliography

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Kevin graduated from a law degree, prior to studying to be a Barrister in London, at the Inns of Court School of Law. He was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, after successfully passing his Bar exams and is also professionally qualified by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).

Kevin is a freeman of the City of London, Liveryman at the Furniture Makers’ Company, and represents the Ombudsman on the All Party Parliamentary Group for furniture at the Houses of Parliament. He is a member of the Chartered Trading Standards Business Members Group. He also sits on the executive committee of the Ombudsman Association and the advisory board at the Independent Football Ombudsman.

 

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Categories
ADR Ombudsman Business

Alternative Dispute Resolution: What it all means

Alternative Dispute Resolution

From the 9th July 2015 The EU ADR Directive was supposed to come into force. It was delayed until the 1st October. This compels the government to ensure that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes are in place.

ADR is a process that enables disputes between a consumer and a business to be settled via an independent mechanism outside the court system and can provide a quicker resolution. There are different forms of ADR:

Different ADR methods

Arbitration – an impartial and independent third party will decide how to resolve your dispute. In most cases, the arbitrator’s decision is binding and cannot be challenged in court. Costs vary and sometimes arbitration is free as with IDRS and ACAS services.

Adjudication – by ombudsmen (or ADR provider) and free to the consumer. Binding on the trader (they lose membership if don’t abide by the rules but this rare) but not on you should you not agree and want to take the matter to court.

Mediation/conciliation – remains confidential and cannot be used in a later court hearing. The cost varies: in some instances it’s free; in others, it can get expensive. By the very nature of the word “mediation” someone will work with you and the other party to reach a decision. If agreement is made and signed this is legally binding. You would only be to go to court to enforce it if necessary.

Negotiation – which is used most commonly in employment situations. You can choose to have a union rep or someone else present while you negotiate.

Generally, arbitration is binding on both parties to the dispute; mediation/conciliation and negotiation are non-binding; and adjudication and ombudsmen schemes do not bind the complainant, but will be binding on the other side.

Film on ADR recorded for Citizen’s Advice:

The Complaining Cow - when things go wrong

07/10/20 International Ombuds day – what’s it all about

Guest posts by Ombudsmen

Why use the Financial Ombudsman?

Furniture and dispute resolution guest post.

Energy ombudsman shows how to keep heat on your supplier

Myths about Ombudsmen

It is common to come across people who think that Ombudsmen see in favour of companies for example. However, this is just one myth. This post 5 Ombudsman myths busted explains more.

However there are some issues and these are in the oversight and approval and monitoring of ADR providers.

The ADR appears to have let the flood gates open and the potential for an omnishambles of ombudsmen is upon us.

Problems in the ADR/Ombudsman sector

Report cover CDRL, CTSI, CAA, OA, Dean Dunham,

Lots of people failings in alternative dispute resolution
How are authorities failing in their approval of ombudsmen and ADR providers? Many ways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20/10/16 Ombudsman chaos continues – Even on Conflict Resolution Day

06/06/17 The Retail Ombudsman is no more as title is lost

22/06/17 Ombudsman Omnishambles Serious unresolved issues affecting the operation of the ombudsman ADR system in the UK

 

 

 

21/07/17 Statement on The Retail Ombudsman by the Ombudsman Association

28/02/18 Government & regulators continue to fail consumers

28/02/18 More Ombudsman Omnishambles The UK ADR Landcsape 20 months on the report.

23/08/18 Landing in court with Ryanair the latest,  Which? and The Independent, reports included.

07/10/20 CAA launches consultation and tells no-one…

22/10/20 Ryanair tops the CAA refund complaints figures

16/12/21 CMA steps in where the CAA fears to tread

18/03/21 Civil Aviation Authority consults on dispute resolution

The above links also link to articles from Which?, Financial Times and The Independent that describe a number of problems which are not the fault of providers and provide  warnings about one provider, Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited run by Dean Dunham which runs RetailADR, UtitlitiesADR and AviationADR.

Ombudsman Omnishambles discussed on You and Yours Radio 4

How approval bodies are failing to properly approve and monitor Alternative Dispute Resolution -

 

Help with complaining effectively

 

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

Need help? GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer will help you develop skills to become better at complaining

 

 

 

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Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress