Ninety per cent of complaints about energy companies didn’t reach the ombudsman over the last year, often because people didn’t know of the ombudsman’s existence. And this, according to Which?, meant consumers collectively missing out on around £4 million in compensation.
So this year, be one of the ten per cent who are in the know. Here are five places to go to air your grievance and achieve results.
Gas and electricity
Customers having problems with a gas or electricity company should head straight for Ombudsman Services, who will step in if the company involved has failed to respond adequately within eight weeks or has said it can do no more to help. In 2011, 95 per cent of complaints that actually reached the ombudsman were upheld and 70 per cent of those received compensation.
Tax and national insurance
Unhappy about taxes or national insurance? HM Revenue and Customs has its own complaints procedure, which is explained at on the HMRC How to complain page. However, if this does not produce a satisfactory outcome, the Adjudicator’s Office promises to act as a fair and unbiased referee.
Banks, insurance and finance companies
The Financial Ombudsman Service is for people who have complained to their bank, insurance company or finance firm but are still not happy. This user-friendly site includes a range of clear factsheets on how it deals with cases, the most common issues it handles, and where to take things further if you are unhappy with its service (which is the Independent Assessor).
Those working in estate agency are legally obliged to belong to a redress scheme approved by the Office of Fair Trading. There are two of these approved services, which deal with unresolved disputes between customers and property professionals: the Property Ombudsman and the Surveyors’ Ombudsman Service.
The above are just a few of the Ombudsman offices and complaint handlers working in the UK. You can find an A-Z of many more, from the Advertising Standards Authority to the Waterways Ombudsman, at the website of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association. It also has links to other sites that deal with complaints, conciliation and mediation, including the invaluable How to Complain.