Only a third of adults aged between 18-25 are aware of ombudsman services, Which? research has found.
This is compared to 92% of people over the age of 55.
The survey found that general knowledge of ombudsman services and what they do were also mixed.
A third of all those surveyed thought there was a single ombudsman for all complaints regardless of what the complaint relates to.
In fact there are different ombudsman services depending on the nature of your complaint.
For more information on ombudsmen services and what they can do for you, read our guide to how to complain to the ombudsman.
What the ombudsman can do for you
The nationally representative UK survey of 1,007 adults in May 2014, found that around one in 10 people had used a complaints organisation – such as a consumer group or ombudsman service – in the last year.
This is a slight increase on 2013 – up to 13% in 2014 from 11% the previous year.
Ombudsmen schemes are free for consumers to use, and are an alternative to going to court to sort out a problem with a company.
An ombudsman acts as an independent referrer who looks at both sides of the argument, makes enquiries, asks questions, and comes up with a remedy or solution.
For more information, read our guide to when to take a complaint to the ombudsman.
More than half of those questioned in the survey thought you could take a complaint directly to the ombudsman at the same time as complaining to a company or provider.
This is not the case. Before taking a complaint to the ombudsman you must show that you’ve tried to resolve your dispute with the company in question.
At the ombudsman’s recommendation you can get a refund from the provider you’ve complained about – 76% of those surveyed knew this to be the case.
Make complaints count
Which? has launched a campaign to make complaints count in public services.
The ‘Make Complaints Count’ campaign is calling on the government to pledge to be the champion of patients, parents and all users of public services.
Make your voice heard – sign your name and share your experiences.