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New champion for consumer

Online watchdog gets ready to bite

Consumers today get a new watchdog to handle complaints ranging from car repairs to washing machines.

The new online Consumer Ombudsman will provide a quicker response without the need for costly and drawn-out legal action.

Lewis Shand Smith, chief ombudsman at Ombudsman Services, which has launched the service, 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.

“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.”

The service can be called into action eight weeks after companies have failed to find a solution to a problem. It can order companies to issue an apology or compensation.

However, critics have noted that its action is restricted to those companies that sign up to the service so that consumers may continue to battle against smaller firms outwith its jurisdiction.

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