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Fashion retailers sign up to ombudsman service

Debenhams, River Island and Mothercare are among the list of retailers voluntarily signed up to The Retail Ombudsman, which was established this week to settle disputes between shops and consumers.

The referee service, designed to act independently for both online and physical stores, will begin taking complaints from January 1.

Businesses that join the service, which also currently includes BHS, New Look and womenswear chain Principles, will be charged up to £2,000 a year and £45 for each case handled.

The Retail Ombudsman follows rules laid down by the Ombudsman Association and can only act after a consumer has complained and given the retailer at least eight weeks to respond. Complaints must also be lodged within six months of the incident.

Grievances can be made against companies not signed up, however, The Retail Ombudsman cannot enforce rulings such as financial compensation or apologies.

A statement on its website said: “By dealing with a member of The Retail Ombudsman, the public may be confident about the retailer’s practice and procedures, including the way in which it addresses customer complaints.” 

Sir Eric Peacock has been appointed chairman of ombudsman’s standards board. The non-executive director of UK Trade & Investment is also the chairman of Buckley Jewellery and Stevenage Packaging.

A full list of retailers signed up will be published in January.

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