An ombudsman is an independent professional body set up by law to assist when disputes arise between consumers and firms. Their independent nature means they can remain impartial and review each individual situation as it presents itself. Examples of industries in which an ombudsman is present and can help settle disputes are those relating to estate agents, solicitors, and insurance companies. They are present in many other industries as well.
When a consumer has cause to complain about the service they have received, it is important for them to have someone to turn to. They may feel they cannot approach the business they have dealt with. Alternatively, they may approach the business to try and resolve their complaint. However, this approach may not garner the results they would like. They may feel they have not been listened to and would therefore seek an independent source of advice and support to make sure their case is heard.
The aim is for the ombudsman to listen to the position occupied by each side. They will look at all the evidence pertaining to the situation and try to find a resolution that is fair to both.
Seeking ombudsman services should only be done after trying to reach a resolution with the company or business you have dealt with. It should be used as a final port of call following failed resolution or response from the person or business you have interacted with. It should never be used as the first step in making a complaint.