New consumer ombudsman to handle car complaints

A new free ombudsman service has been launched to help consumers persue complaints about second hand cars.

The new Consumer Ombudsman hopes to fill the gaps in the existing system that leaves people confused about where to turn. The current setup often forces consumers to accept a company’s final decision or pay out to go through small claims court.

The new ombudsman will handle all consumer complaints, with a particular focus on secondhand cars and car repair work including servicing. It’s a web-based service available at The service is UK-based, with ‘no problem being too small’.

The launch comes as the latest figures reveal there were 66 million complaints about products and services last year – equating to a complaint every 1.2 seconds.

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Ombudsman Services – which has launched the new car-focused service – also found many consumers who experience an issue still take no action. It estimates up to 40 million problems weren’t pursued as people felt they weren’t “worth the hassle”.

The service is another power in the arsenal of consumers ahead of the revamped Consumer Rights Act that comes into force in the UK from October 2015.

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Lewis Shand Smith, chief ombudsman at Ombudsman Services said: “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.

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“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.”

Car owners will be able to turn to the Consumer Ombudsman to step in provided they have given companies a “reasonable amount of time” of up to eight weeks to resolve a problem.

If the ombudsman finds in their favour, the potential steps taken to put the matter right could include an apology or compensation.

Have you got a complaint about a car? Tell us about it in the comments section below. Our Watchdog team may be able to help…

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