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Media

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Want to know more about the work we do? Sign up for our newsletters - send an email to feedback@ombudsman-services.org 

Press enquiries can be sent to press@ombudsman-services.org or call 01925 431 029

Ombudsman Services launches annual report 2013

16 July 2013

Click here to read our main news release.

Click here to read the Ombudsman Services: Communications press release.

Click here to read the Ombudsman Services: Energy press release.

Click here to read the Ombudsman Services: Copyright Licensing press release.

Click here to read the Ombudsman Services: Property press release.

Fit for the future, Ombudsman Services launches consumer complaints case management system

Statement 19 June 2013

This week Ombudsman Services launched its new groundbreaking and intuitive case management system, provided by Peppermint Technology. 
The move is a result of a two year exploration of Ombudsman Services’ processes and its overall approach to dispute resolution. The new case management system will not only enhance the organisation’s customer experience, but place it at the cutting edge of consumer alternative dispute resolution. 

Last year Ombudsman Services resolved almost 20,000 consumer disputes about the communications, energy, property and copyright licensing industries, and it handled 123,000 new contacts. The multi channel platform brings with it wider benefits such as text messaging and self service for both consumers and participating companies, enabling them secure access to their own cases.

Director of Dispute Resolution Tracey Newman says: "Ombudsman Services is an established provider of alternative dispute resolution and we are evolving to meet the needs of the modern consumer and participating companies. All of our customers deserve the highest standards of service.

“The platform, provided by Peppermint, is the cornerstone of our IT infrastructure. It ensures contacts are routed to those best suited to respond and allows us to work smarter and more cost effectively to resolve consumer disputes. 

“Underpinned by the new case management system, our new ways of working will streamline our processes by allowing us to adapt to changes and remove non value steps. Change can be challenging but our employees have shown outstanding commitment to customer service delivery.” 

Notes to editors

  • The Ombudsman Service Limited is a private company limited by guarantee which operates using the brand ‘Ombudsman Services’.
  • Ombudsman Services runs national, private sector ombudsman schemes that provide independent dispute resolution for the communications, energy, property and copyright licensing sectors. 
  • Ombudsman Services is an independent alternative to the courts and its services are free of charge to consumers. It operates by the Ombudsman Association’s principles of good governance.
  • For information about Peppermint Technology visit  www.pepperminttechnology.co.uk

For further information, please contact the press office: press@ombudsman-services.org 

More protection for tenants

Press Statement 8 March 2013

We welcome the successful amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill introduced by Baroness Hayter. The effect is to introduce an amendment in law to help protect tenants and regulate the lettings industry. This is a significant step which, if accepted at the next stages in the House of Commons, will ensure consumers have access to free independent redress if things go wrong when engaging the services of a letting agent. 

Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith said:  “We support the proposed changes.  As the lettings business increases the anomaly that estate agents are regulated and are required to belong to a redress scheme while lettings agents are not, will become more obvious. 

This is not only confusing but also means that tenants and prospective tenants risk receiving a poor service and are not protected should something go wrong.  Independent redress can also assist business and encourage growth, giving consumers confidence to engage and both a means of resolving complaints that is cheaper and quicker than the courts.”

For further information please contact: press@ombudsman-services.org

Ombudsman enrols creatures for Christmas message 

Press Release 17 December 2012

This Christmas Ombudsman Services has got together with some animated friends to talk about some of the more unusual complaints it has received.

Using the voices of real people at the ombudsman’s office; a polar bear, a penguin, a moose, a fox and an owl, talk of problems that the ombudsman couldn’t help with.

The animation, released today on Ombudsman Service’s website www.ombudsman-services.org and You Tube is a tale of tights, language barriers and lawnmowers.

Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith says ‘We’d love to handle complaints about anything and everything but until we can, we’re here to resolve complaints about communications, energy, property, copyright licensing and the green deal.’

ENDS

For further information, please contact: press@ombudsman-services.org

Out of hours: 07808 789 548

We support the TSI new codes approval criteria

Press Statement 14 December 2012

We are pleased that the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is proposing to identify Ombudsman Services as one of two potential redress models that it is content will meet the requirements of the code’s approval. We are experienced in complaints resolution across different sectors and are ready and willing to support code owners with an effective redress scheme.

We also support the TSI’s proposal to open up the membership of the CCAS to more businesses in order to make the codes sustainable. This will offer greater protection to consumers and provide a quality standard for more businesses. It is important that the reputation of the codes is maintained so there is a need for ongoing enforcement; this will be supported by the requirement for independent consumer redress.   

Click here to read Ombudsman Services full response to the consultation. 

Ends.

For further information, please contact:

Helen-Louise Smith Communications Manager

Tel: 01925 431 029

Out of hours: 07808 789 548

Email: press@ombudsman-services.org

Ombudsman Services selected to handle complaints for copyright management organisations

Press Release 31 December 2012

Ombudsman Services has been chosen by 10 copyright management organisations to provide independent dispute resolution to their licensees and members. 

This means that those who use the services of a Collective Management Organisation to collect royalties for their work – such as music, literature, design and news stories – have access to independent redress when they have a complaint.

Lewis Shand Smith, Chief Ombudsman at Ombudsman Services, says: ‘This is good news for the creative industries. Those who use the services of a Collective Management Organisation which participates in our scheme can be confident that we will help if there is a problem that the organisation cannot resolve. Our service is free and simple to use.’

The British Copyright Council launches the organisations’ Codes of Conduct for Collective Management Organisations today. Lewis Shand Smith says, “We welcome these codes of conduct. They will clarify the standards of operation that licensees and members can expect and will provide a reference point for us when resolving a complaint. This is a perfect example of how government can support industry to self regulate and provide consumer redress at no cost to the public purse.’

Ombudsman Services also operates independent redress schemes for the energy, green deal, telecommunications and property sectors. Last year it resolved over 18,000 complaints. 

Contact:

Tel:  01925 431 029

Email: press@ombudsman-services.org

Out of hours: 07808 789 548

Response to Ofgem’s proposals for a new vulnerable consumer strategy

Press Statement 4 December 2012

At this time of rising energy prices Ombudsman Services welcomes Ofgem’s proposals. 

We particularly support Ofgem’s move away from what can be regarded as a very narrow, simplistic and mechanistic view as to what a vulnerable consumer is. 

We suggest in our response that Ofgem should go further and consider groups such as those who live in poor housing stock and, increasingly, those who are unable to use the internet as vulnerable. 

We also welcome Ofgem’s proposal to encourage both suppliers and distributors to adopt the BSI Standard on inclusive services and, to avoid consumer confusion, there should be a single code used throughout the sector”.

Read our full response here http://www.ombudsman-services.org/policy-os.html

Ombudsman Services appoints Peppermint Technology to provide complaints handling system

Press Release 12 November 2012

Ombudsman Services is pleased to announce a five year contract with Peppermint Technology to provide an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) handling system via the Platform Offerings. The Platform will enable the Ombudsman Services to deliver improved and consistent client services through multiple channels. 

Ombudsman Services has planned the provision of self-assessment facilities and expanding customer service channels to include secure service portals and text messaging. The primary benefit will be to improve the service by making it quicker and more transparent; however the Peppermint Platform will also reduce costs and improve operational efficiency.

To read Peppermint Technology’s full press release click here.

Ombudsman Services calls for improved consumer awareness of the right to redress

Press Statement 23 October 2012

In a response to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) consultation on the Communications Review, Ombudsman Services, the organisation which handles complaints about the energy, communications and property sectors, urges the department to ensure that consumers are protected when things go wrong.

Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith says ‘The requirement for communications providers to tell their customers clearly about their right to independent redress when things go wrong should be protected and developed’. 

He continues, ‘There are currently two approved redress schemes in the communications sector. Ofcom is taking welcome steps to ensure consistency between the schemes. We would expect the Communications Review to address the potentially detrimental impact of  ‘redress shopping’, where companies could seek to undermine the independence and quality of the schemes by demanding lower standards in an attempt to cut costs. 

Ombudsman Services also called for the review to look ahead to consumer protection for future technical developments, for example by providing clear guidance on redress schemes for digital payments. 

Ombudsman Services resolved over 11,000 complaints about communications providers last year. The biggest cause of complaints was customer service, followed by disputed charges.

Ombudsman Services says that more information will help consumers to make the best choice

Press Statement 3 September 2012

In a response to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Cabinet Office consultation ‘Midata’, Ombudsman Services, the organisation which handles complaints about the energy, communications and property sectors, says that by providing the consumer with the historical information on the consumption of a service or product it will help the consumer to make a more informed choice.

Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith, says ‘The midata requirement to provide an historical consumption data service would be of particular relevance to the energy and communications sectors. Consumers could use the data to help inform them in their choice of supplier’.

Ombudsman Services resolved over 18,000 consumer complaints last year. Top reasons for complaints were billing and customer service.

The full response is available on the Ombudsman Services website, click here to read.

 

Ombudsman Services says that the Regulated Industries Unit must have the right powers

Press Statement 23 October 2012

In a response to the Consumer Focus consultation ‘Proposals for Design principles for the Regulated Industries Unit’, Ombudsman Services, the organisation which handles complaints about the energy, communications and property sectors, says that  it is essential for the Regulated Industries Unit (RIU) to have the right powers to effectively to carry out its duties. 

Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith, says ‘The principles outlined in the consultation paper place considerable onus on the Regulated Industries Unit and it will have a great deal to do if it is to achieve everything the paper requires of it’.

He continues, ‘It is important to get things right in establishing this important body, funding arrangements, adequate resource, clarity of remit and powers all need to be carefully considered so that the RIU can make a real difference for consumers in the markets it is working in’.

The full response is available on the Ombudsman Services website, click here to read. 

Ombudsman Services welcomes new OFT guidance on property sales

Press Statement 29 May 2012

Office of Fair Trading (OFT) guidance to help those involved in property sales to understand their responsibilities has been welcomed by Ombudsman Services.

Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith, said ‘We see the effects of poorly handled property transactions. This guidance will help to clarify the standards expected of property professionals. When things go wrong we will check performance against these measures and where there are shortcomings we will ensure that those involved take responsibility for their actions.’

He continues, ‘Consumers need clear and accurate information in order to make the best decisions. This is an important step in the right direction.’

To read the news item and visit the OFT's website click here

Growth in the private rental sector must come with conditions

Press Statement 13 September 2012

Ombudsman Services has responded to the Montague Report which states that institutional investors could fund the large-scale building of private housing for rent, by highlighting the need to ensure that consumers are adequately protected.

It is essential that all tenants have access to an independent ombudsman if things go wrong. Estate agents are regulated while lettings agents are not. Estate agents must belong to an approved redress scheme, while there is no such requirement for lettings agencies.  

In its recent submission to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) consultation on changes to the Estate Agents Act, Ombudsman Services gave its view that this lack of regulation reduces the protection available to tenants and that it should be addressed click here to read our response.

Video interview

Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith talks at the NALS annual conference about whether deal sourcers fall under the Estate Agents' Act and whether they need to be registered with an ombudsman scheme.


Notes to editors:

  • The Ombudsman Service Limited is a private company limited by guarantee which operates using the brand ‘Ombudsman Services’. 
  • Ombudsman Services runs four national, private sector ombudsman schemes which provide independent dispute resolution for the communications, energy, property and copyright licensing sectors.  
  • Ombudsman Services: Communications handles complaints for more than 600 companies including the big six communications providers (BT, Vodafone, O2, 3, Talk Talk and Sky). It resolved 11,200 consumer complaints (2011/12). It is approved by Ofcom.
  • Ombudsman Services: Energy handles complaints for all energy supply and network companies which have domestic or small business customers. It resolved 6,608 consumer complaints (2011/12). It is approved by Ofgem.
  • Ombudsman Services: Property handles complaints for members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), estate agents and other property professionals. It resolved 464 consumer complaints (2011/12). It is approved by the Office of Fair Trading as an estate agent redress scheme.
  • Ombudsman Services is an entirely independent alternative to the courts and its services are free of charge to consumers. It operates by the Ombudsman Association principles of good governance. 
  • Ombudsman Services was selected to provide an ombudsman and investigation services for the Government’s Green Deal scheme. This service started on 1 October 2012.

Ombudsman Services: Copyright Licensing was established in 2008 to handle complaints for PRS for Music

Ten Collective Management Organisations have indicated that they will be joining Ombudsman Services. These are:

  • Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society Ltd
  • British Equity Collecting Society Ltd
  • The Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd
  • Design & Artists’ Copyright Society Ltd
  • Directors UK Ltd
  • Educational Recording Agency Ltd
  • Newspaper Licensing Agency Ltd
  • Performing Right Society (for Music) Ltd
  • Phonographic Performance Ltd
  • Publishers Licensing Society Ltd

Ombudsman Services was selected to provide an ombudsman and investigation services for the Government’s Green Deal scheme. This service started on 1 October 2012. To read our latest news items, including case stories and statements click here.

To read our responses to consultations click here.

Consumers

Have we recently resolved your complaint, or given you advice that helped you to sort out your complaint? 

Would you like to share your experience with others?

National press and media frequently approach Ombudsman Services, looking for consumers who want to share their positive experiences of getting their complaints resolved.  If you are willing to share your experience with our press office, please let us know. Send an email to: press@ombudsman-services.org quoting your name and case reference number. Advice and stories

You can see examples of the work we do to resolve complaints by looking at the relevant sector pages:

 

Supporting improvement
We work with the companies that join our service. We may offer one-to-one support or provide industry wide advice. We can help you to improve service delivery and improve complaint handling

Supporting improvement

We work with the companies that join our service. We offer support and provide industry wide advice. Our aim is to share lessons learned and our experience of complaint handling to help companies improve service delivery and complaint handling for their customers. We issue quarterly sector specific newsletters to participating companies.

To read the newsletters Click here

To find out more about how we work with companies to provide dispute resolution see our corporate brochure "Working with Ombudsman Services" 

To read "Working with Ombudsman Services" Click here.

Annual reports and customer satisfaction research

To read annual reports Click here.

To read the research reports Click here.

Contact details

If you are a member of the media you can contact us as follows:

Sign up for our newsletter, contact feedback@ombudsman-services.org

Phone: 07808 789548

Email: press@ombudsman-services.org