If you have a complaint with a particular company that you're having difficulty resolving, you could consider taking your complaint to the relevant ombudsman.
The ombudsman can act as an independent referee who looks at both sides of the dispute and can come up with a fair solution. Follow our step-by-step guide to help you.
1 Complain to the company
Try to resolve the dispute by explaining your problem and what you want done about it. If the company has its own internal complaints procedure, follow it.
2 Get a letter of deadlock
If the company refuses to do what you ask to sort out the problem, ask for a ‘letter of deadlock’ to show you've done all you can to resolve the complaint.
If the company fails to respond to this final letter within a reasonable period of time (say, 14 days), you can take your complaint to the ombudsman.
3 Contact the ombudsman
Contact the ombudsman to find out how to submit a complaint.
Different ombudsmen have different procedures – some may ask you to fill out a complaint form, while for others you need only write a letter outlining your problem.
If it’s the latter make sure you include the following information:
- Your name and address (or the name and address of the person making the complaint)
- The name and address of the organisation the complaint is being made about
- Details of what your complaint is about, including exactly what the company did that it shouldn’t have (or what it didn’t do that it should have done)
- What you have lost in terms of personal injustice, financial loss, hardship or inconvenience
- What you would like the organisation to do to put things right, and details of what you have done so far to try to resolve the complaint
- Include copies of any relevant letters, emails, invoices or receipts
If you need dedicated legal advice, you can speak to a Which? Legal Service lawyer who may be able to help you.
4 Await the ombudsman's decision
The ombudsman will look at the evidence provided by both sides. It might contact you for more information, but there isn’t a hearing, as there is with a court case.
Once the ombudsman has made its decision it will write to you and the company with details of the ‘award’.
If the award is in your favour (the ombudsman agrees with your complaint), this will include details of what the company must do to put things right.