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About Us

Who we are

About The Retail Ombudsman

The Retail Ombudsman (TRO) is an independent, not-for-profit, government approved organisation, authorised by: Chartered Trading Standards Institute, the Civil Aviation Authority and Ofcom, pursuant to The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authority and Information) Regulations 2015.

TRO is a full member of Ombudsman Association (OA).

Purpose and scope:

The main purpose of TRO scheme is:

a) The receipt and handling of unresolved disputes that fall within jurisdiction as defined within these Scheme Rules (“Complaints”), in relation to companies that are a member of TRO (“Members”);

b) The resolution, settlement and/or withdrawal of Complaints or disputes between Members and any of their customers;

c) Where appropriate, to administer remedies and provide redress in relation to Complaints between Members and their customers;

d) Where appropriate to make recommendations to Members about their policies, procedures or the provision of services.

TRO is set up as a limited by guarantee company and has three parts to its structure:

a. TRO Office (administration and Complaint handlers)
b. The Office of the Ombudsman
c. TRO Standards Board

Complaints start and finish with the Ombudsman. In his Decisions, he is impartial and independent of TRO Office, TRO Standards Board and all outside influences.

Integrity and Independence

Our independent status is at the heart of everything that we do, as is our commitment to openness, honesty and integrity and we recognise the importance of this to everyone that relies on our services.

Independent Standards Board (“Board”)

  • To help preserve our independence and provide an invaluable set of checks and balances on our work, The Board acts to regulate how we operate. All board members share our vision of inspiring complainant confidence and raising industry standards and do so on a voluntary basis.
  • The Board regularly reviews a cross section of our adjudications, to ensure they are both fair and reasonable. It also oversees our rules, practices and procedures.
  • The Board is governed by the Board Constitution.

Disputes we deal with

We deal with disputes in the following sectors:

  • Aviation
  • Utilities
  • Retail

 Location

We have three office locations:

  • Glasgow: this is where our membership team operates from.
  • London: this is our registered office where some of our administration functions take place
  • Milton Keynes: this is our Head office and is where all complaint handlers and ombudsman are located.

Executive Team

Complaint Handler Team

Our complaint handlers are highly trained in complaint handling, mediation and consumer law. Each complaint handler specialises in a particular field, such as:

  • Instore complaints
  • Online complaints
  • Airline complaints
  • Trade complaints
  • Restaurant complaints
  • Hotel and Leisure complaints

Ombudsman's office

Our ombudsman team is led by Dean Dunham, a barrister with in excess of 18 years experience in consumer law and ADR. All of our sub-ombudsman are also barristers with extensive experience in consumer law and ADR.

ADR Officials

‘ADR Officials’ are personnel within The Retail Ombudsman that have been judged as being ‘competent’ in their knowledge of the law and who possess the necessary knowledge and skills in the field of out of court or judicial resolution of consumer disputes, to be able to carry out their functions competently. ADR Officials are judged competent by the Chief Ombudsman who measures competence using a written examination method.

 

 

Dean Dunham (Barrister) - Chief Ombudsman Andrew Settle (Solicitor-Advocate) - Sub ombudsman Alex Dos-Santos (Barrister) - Sub-ombudsman Robin Tucker - Director Brendan Kennedy - Director Ella Sufrin (Legal Executive) - Lead Complaint Handler George Harrington - Complaint Handler Daniel Butcher - Complaint Handler Joanne Campbell - Complaint Handler Tammy Spuffard - Complaint Handler Jen Tucker - Complaint Handler Hilary Cornwell - Complaint Handler John Frangoudi - Complaint Handler Carole Kear - Complaint Handler Claire Neicho - Complaint Handler Kay Kennedy - Complaint Handler

All caseworkers who have not been judged as being 'competent' are supervised by an ADR Official until such time as they are judged competent.

Independent Standards Board

The Independent Standards Board plays a vitally important role in ensuring that The Retail Ombudsman remains independent, impartial and fair. Its mandate is therefore to:
  • Make sure The Retail Ombudsman observes the criteria for ombudsman schemes at all times
  • Make sure The Retail Ombudsman observes its own terms or reference and rules at all times
  • Make sure The Retail Ombudsman maintains its independence  and impartiality at all times, by reviewing and testing a selection of recommendations and determinations each month

The Independent Standards board is therefore completely independent from The Retail Ombudsman. The Board is governed by a set of rules and authorisations known as the “Standards Board Constitution”.

Sir Eric Peacock (Chairman)

Sir Eric has a wealth of experience in the Retail sector and is a well known figure in Government as he sits as a non-executive director on various management boards (including UK Export and Finance and UK Trade & Finance and previously Department for Innovation & Skills and the Foreign office).

Nicholas Rhodes QC

Nicholas Rhodes QC has a wealth of experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Nicholas is also a part-time judge.

Calvin Jackson

Calvin Jackson spent two years as legal counsel in the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions. In recent years, Calvin has been at the Bar where he has advised on ADR.

Dr Fiona Ellis-Chadwick

Dr Ellis-Chadwick is an academic specialising in retail management at both the Open University and Loughborough University.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith is the founder of Poundland and a renowned retailer and entrepreneur.

Complaints We Can Help With

Types of complaint we can deal with

Types of complaint we can deal with

We can deal with most disputes between consumers and retailers, including disputes in relation to:

  • Returning goods
  • Faulty goods
  • Missing parts
  • Delivery
  • Customer service
  • Pricing
  • Misrepresentation
  • Product description
Complaints we cannot deal with

We cannot deal with complaints about any of the following:

Financial Ombudsman – www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau
The Property Ombudsman – www.tpos.co.uk 01722 333306 Ombudsman-Services – www.ombudsman-services.org
Consumer Council for Water – www.ccwater.org.uk Ombudsman-Services – www.ombudsman-services.org)
Legal Ombudsman – www.legalombudsman.org.uk 0300 555 0333
Citizens Advice Bureau – who will direct you to the appropriate body

IMPORTANT NOTES:

1) Before taking your complaint to any of the above organisations you must first have complained direct to the business that sold you the goods or services.

2) Complaints to The Retail Ombudsman can be submitted without the need for any independent advice or third party representation.

Eligibility

To bring a complaint to us you must have:

Already complained to the retailer/trader/airline and given them up to eight weeks to respond; and

Complained to the retailer/trader/airline within the last six months

If you are unhappy with the response, or eight weeks have passed and you haven't had a response, we may be able to help.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

1. Use of The Retail Ombudsman scheme is FREE to consumers

2. No party is obliged to obtain independent advice or representation before or during the complaint process, although either party may choose to do so.

Our Powers

We can:

Direct the retailer/trader to take, or desist from taking, certain steps - such as providing a refund or exchange or issuing a formal apology.

Direct the retailer/trader to pay you a financial award by way of compensation (up to £25,000) for proven financial loss - where appropriate and applicable.

If the retailer/trader is a member of The Retail Ombudsman, they will be contractually obligated to implement our decision. However, if the retailer/trader is not a member it will be within their discretion, although in most circumstances we would expect non-member retailers to reconsider their position.

Complaint Process

There are two ways to bring your complaint to The Retail Ombudsman;
1. By post
If you do not have access to the Internet you can telephone 0203 137 8268 and ask one of our team members to post a complaint form to you. Send your completed form to: The Retail Ombudsman, 33 Floor, Euston Towers, 286 Euston Road, London NW1 3DP.
Note:
Upon submission of your complaint one of our caseworkers will firstly determine whether your complaint falls within The Retail Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. If it does not we will not be able to deal with your complaint and we will notify you in writing, by no later than 21 days, of the reasons why.
Once accepted, your complaint will go through a 5-step procedure as shown below. You will be kept up-to-date with the progress of your complaint either via your personal online portal (if you have Internet access) or via post.

2. Online
if you have access to the Internet you can file your complaint via our online portal. To access this simply go to the home page of the website and click on ‘File your complaint‘. As soon as you have filed your complaint you will be taken to your own personal portal page. This page provides you with live information about your claim so that you can check the progress at any time of day.
 

Once we have all of the relevant information and supporting documentation from yourself and the retailer/trader, your complaint handler will initially attempt to make a recommendation to resolve the dispute informally. If this proves unsuccessful we will issue a final determination. If you are not happy with the final determination you will be free to take your complaint to court. We aim to process all complaints within 60 days.

After Our Determination

WHAT IF I'M UNHAPPY WITH THE OUTCOME?

Consumers are not bound by our recommendations or determination unless you agree to be bound.
If you do not agree to be bound and you are unhappy with the outcome,
you can still take your complaint elsewhere (such as to court).

Complaining about

The Retail Ombudsman

All complaints should initially be addressed to:

Chief Ombudsman

The Retail Ombudsman
33 Floor, Euston Towers
286 Euston Road
London
NW1 3DP

Complaints should be in writing and should provide full details of the complaint, including your complaint ID number and the name of the Complaint Handler where possible/applicable. The Chief Ombudsman will respond to all complaints within 21 days.

If your complaint concerns the Chief Ombudsman or if you are not satisfied with the Chief Ombudsman’s response to your complaint, you can escalate your complaint to the following:

Sir Eric Peacock
Chairman - Independent Standards Board

The Retail Ombudsman
33 Floor, Euston Towers
286 Euston Road
London
NW1 3DP

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