Consumer FAQs

What Is An Ombudsman?

An ombudsman is an impartial body that considers consumer complaints about a variety of issues relating to organisations in both the private and public sectors. It’s tasked with reaching outcomes for both parties which are fair and reasonable as an alternative to going to court.

Who Are We?

We are the automotive dispute resolution (ADR) body. We are the first voluntary and fully-impartial private sector ombudsman that provides a self-regulatory environment for the automotive industry using our Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Motor Industry Codes of Practice. We complement consumer law rather than being a substitute for it.

We are not:

  • A consumer or industry champion
  • A regulator
  • A government-backed watchdog
What Key Benefits Do We Offer You When You Come To Us?
  • The ENTIRE dispute resolution process is free of charge, from the raising of a case through to the awarding of a final decision by our in-house ombudsman
  • You have added peace of mind that you are dealing with a reputable and trustworthy organisation, and that you have someone to turn to in the event that a dispute cannot be resolved directly with a Motor Ombudsman-accredited motor trader
  • You have the ability to leave transparent feedback and recommendations on garages and dealers that you have dealt with
  • You have access to genuine online reviews and ratings on our Garage Finder to make an informed decision for servicing, repairs, and when buying a new or used vehicle
  • You have free use of online resources on this website such as the vehicle recall database
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), And What Does It Mean For Me?

Introduced on 01 October 2015 in the UK, Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, refers to ways of resolving disputes between consumers and businesses that don't involve going to court. It helps to reduce stress, and save you time and money

Can I Leave The ADR Process At Any Time?

Yes, you are free to leave the process at any time.

Can We Deal With Your Dispute?

We are able to raise a case to help resolve your dispute, if:

You made a purchase from a business that is accredited to us

AND

You have been through the garage’s in-house complaints handling procedure. We cannot start to investigate your complaint until you and the retailer have had a proper chance to try and resolve the problem yourselves. This means that you must have used the retailer’s in-house complaints handling procedure, and have given them up to eight weeks to provide their final answer to your complaint in writing before approaching us.

AND

Your purchase was made within the last six years.

How Do I Find Out Whether An Independent Garage Or Franchise Dealership Is Accredited To The Motor Ombudsman?

You can find this out by entering the name of the business into our online Garage Finder.

What Happens If The Business That You Have A Dispute With Is Not Accredited To Us?

If a business is not accredited, The Motor Ombudsman can point you in the right direction for where to go next to resolve your dispute such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

How Will My Dispute Be Handled?

Once we’ve got your details, our legally-trained adjudicators will:

  • Review your side of the story – and get a response from the other party;
  • Find out the facts and weigh everything up; and
  • Tell you and the business what they think

If we think there's just been a misunderstanding, we’ll explain why. There may also be times where the offer already made is considered reasonable in the circumstances, or there just isn’t enough information for us to be able to make a fair decision.

If we decide you’ve been treated unfairly, we'll tell the business to put things right.

You don’t have to agree with what we say, and, if you disagree with our initial outcome from one of our adjudicators, you are able to ask the ombudsman to make a final decision. At any point, you can let us know that you no longer want our help.

How Long Will It Take To Get A Resolution To My Case?

This will depend on the nature of the dispute is. If it’s just a case of talking things through with you and the accredited business, then it might be a few days.

If we need to find out more information, it could take a few weeks. It could also take longer if you or the accredited business want an ombudsman to make a final decision.

What’s The Deadline?

You need to contact us within six months of the date of the business’s answer to your complaint.

Do I Need A Lawyer To Represent Me During The ADR Process?

No. Our service is intended for use without legal representation. We can work directly with you and we’ll explain anything you’re not sure about.

If you like, we can talk to a member of your family, a friend or someone else who’s helping you – like Citizens Advice. We will just need you to put something in writing to show that you give your permission for them to discuss your complaint.

Can I Still Go To Court Even Though I Have Gone To The Motor Ombudsman With My Dispute?

Yes, one doesn’t exclude the other. If you disagree with the ombudsman’s final decision, you can still take your complaint to court, but they can still take it into account when they deliver their ruling. You and the business in question may be liable for any legal fees associated with the case.

What Is The Equivalent Maximum Value Of Decisions That The Motor Ombudsman Can Award?

The Motor Ombudsman can make a decision in yours or an accredited business’ favour up to an equivalent value of £10,000 in addition to the purchase price of the goods/services that were bought). Claims for amounts in excess of that sum need to be pursued within a County Court.

Have A Complaint About The Motor Ombudsman?

In the event where you feel the service you have received from The Motor Ombudsman has not met the standards that you’d expect, you can raise a formal complaint.
Firstly, you can tell us your complaint over the telephone, or send us a letter or email. It will initially be handled by the adjudicator dealing with your case or enquiry (if a case has not been raised). You can expect a response within 10 working days.

If you remain unhappy with the response you have received, you may escalate the complaint to the Head of Customer Services and Quality. This should be provided in writing. They will then carry out a full review of the complaint and respond within 15 working days.

In exceptional circumstances, the complaint can be referred by the Head of Customer Services and Quality to the Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director. A decision may be taken to respond directly, or the complaint may be referred to The Motor Ombudsman Board for their input. Please note the Board cannot overturn case decisions or consider customer service complaints. There is no right of appeal to decisions of The Motor Ombudsman. However, the consumer always reserves the right to pursue the matter via alternative channels should they remain dissatisfied with the award.

How Do I Get In Touch With The Motor Ombudsman If I Can’t Find The Answer Or Information That I Am Looking For On The Website?

To call us, please dial 0345 241 3008 and select option 1. Lines are open between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays.

You can contact us by e-mail at consumer@tmo-uk.org

You can write to us at:

The Motor Ombudsman Ltd
71 Great Peter Street
London
SW1P 2BN
What languages is your service available in?

All of our documents are available in English but our adjudication team would be pleased to work with a translator if required.