Stores sign up to Retail Ombudsman dispute service

Over 170 national store chains have volunteered to work with a new retail ombudsman service that launches in January.

The ombudsman will rule on complaints by consumers towards both online and high street retailers.

Department stores Debenhams and BHS are among lingerie retailers that have already committed to the process, which allows customers to raise issues including refunds and returns, poor customer service and late deliveries.

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Major retailers are charged up to £2000 per year, and £45 for each case that the ombudsman undertakes.

Customers will only be able to take a complaint to the ombudsman after they have first tried and failed to get their issue resolved directly with the retailer. They will have to provide evidence of this process.

If it cannot be resolved directly with the retailer within 8 weeks, then the ombudsman will assign a caseworker to investigate, and will have the ultimate power to impose a resolution.

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