We are an independent, not-for-proﬁt, government approved Ombudsman. We offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) training and advice to traders and consumers in the retail, furniture, and home improvement industries. We are a voluntary scheme, as such each of our members choose to work with us and trust us with their most priced asset; their customers.
We were set up by the Ofﬁce of Fair Trading in 1992 and pride ourselves with the incredible expertise that we have acquired for over the past 28 years, including accredited training diverse team of professionals, a membership base that covers corporations and independent traders. Last but not least, we work tirelessly to protect consumers’ rights and promote fair trade.
We are a voluntary ombudsman scheme which means that our members chose to give their consumers free access to our Alternative Dispute Resolution service. If our members were not registered with us, their customers would not be able to use our services and instead might have to pay to use the Court.
We publish our overall case figures annually but we do not discuss individual cases or businesses. Our decisions are binding on our members but are not binding on consumers, so using our service does not prevent a consumer from using the Court if they don't like our decision.
We do not discuss or publish case figures about individual businesses because that could deter them from voluntarily being members in the first place, which in turn would mean that consumers would not be able to use our free services. We also do not have access to various business data, i.e. sales volumes, and therefore we could not represent case numbers within a meaningful context.
We are obliged under our government approval, the law, and the Ombudsman Association to report the data that we provide in our Annual Review and on our website, and we do this to the fullest extent required. Because not all businesses are members, if we were to only publish our members’ data (and not offer a full industry view, including businesses that choose not to provide their consumers with ADR), it might unduly distort the picture of the industry.
However, we do understand that transparency is very important and that's why a Standards Board oversees our work and has access to our cases.
By law, retailers and many other traders do not have to be a member of an ombudsman. In England and Wales, there are a few regulated industries where all businesses operating in that industry must be member of an ombudsman scheme. These include finance, pensions, communications, public services, energy, law, etc.
Our vision is to inspire consumer confidence, raise industry standards and resolve disputes without the need for costly litigation.
We're totally independent. That means we can be trusted to help reach an agreement that is fair for both parties.
We are not-for-profit, meaning that our mission is to provide a service, not distribute profit to shareholders.
We are overseen and regulated by a Standards Board to ensure we are delivering the services we’ve set out to deliver.
Our Code of Practice is there to ensure that every member knows the commitments they make to their customers. You can read it below.
We are approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, are full members of the Ombudsman Association, and maintain links with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
All our staff sign up to statements of our core values. These include commitments to effective delivery of our services, operational excellence and honesty. Read the full list of statements below.
Our staff work to a series of values. These statements represent how we approach all aspects of our work and demonstrate our commitment to everyone involved with our service.
Effective and Efficient Delivery
Demonstrate ownership for your role and the work of the Ombudsman by accepting responsibility for your own performance, and understanding how your contribution fits into the success of the organisation.
Feel empowered to make decisions by understanding processes, support mechanisms and escalation points as necessary.
Get it right first time by minimising unnecessary errors and ensuring that the standard of work produced fully represents you and the Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman in the best possible way.
Exceed expectation by striving to deliver the best possible standards of service in all cases, to members, consumers and our colleagues.
Demonstrate a commitment to making work a productive and “can-do” environment by adopting a positive, optimistic attitude.
Inspire confidence in all users of the service and each other, through delivery of consistently high and objectively marked quality standards.
Honest, Openness and Integrity
Ensure the Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman retains its position as impartial and independent by making balanced, reasonable and fair decisions in all circumstances.
Retain our unique position in the consumer landscape by balancing the needs of the consumer against those of our members.
Show pride for the Furniture and Home Improvement Ombudsman brand, by acting as an ambassador throughout your working day. Celebrate good performance and success when this is achieved.
Treat members, consumers and colleagues with the utmost respect at all times. Accept their right to complain or express dissatisfaction, regardless of whether this is perceived to be justified or not. Appreciate varying views, ideals, approaches and beliefs.
Accept that reasonable mistakes will occasionally arise by not seeking to attribute blame and focusing only on solutions.
Work in an open and honest environment, where constructive feedback and praise are forthcoming for the good of the organisation.
Change and Evolution
Adopt a proactive approach to service delivery, by constantly striving to improve and innovate. Never accept the current way of working if there are viable, reasonable and more efficient alternatives.
Understand the need for the business to continuously evolve to meet the needs of members and consumers by accepting and supporting change.
Understand the need for continuous improvement by demonstrating a clear focus on our values at all times