Accreditation Q&A

Businesses seeking information on the Code of Practice or procedures should consult the comprehensive Codes of Practice booklets. If you cannot find the information you require in these documents or our Q&A section, please contact our Accreditation team who will be happy to help.

Who is The Motor Ombudsman?

We are the automotive dispute resolution body. We are the first voluntary and fully-impartial private sector ombudsman for the automotive industry, providing a self-regulatory environment for the sector 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
  • The voice of the automotive industry
Is this the first time that the motor industry has had its own ombudsman service?

Yes it is, and therefore it’s a significant development for consumers and the automotive sector.

What key services does The Motor Ombudsman offer?
  • We provide the most comprehensive and detailed Codes of Practice for the automotive sector. They have been designed to ensure that accredited businesses operate to high standards, whilst also offering consumers the greatest level of protection during the buying and vehicle ownership experience. They are all Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved
  • We guide consumers and accredited businesses through the entire Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process
  • We cut costs for consumers and accredited businesses by providing quick and fair resolutions which, ultimately, helps to avoid the courtroom
  • We supply information to consumers and accredited businesses on disputes alongside the adjudication process to promote resolution as early as possible and manage expectations
  • We provide access to online resources. For example, the ‘Garage Finder’ on The Motor Ombudsman website (themotorombudsman.org) allows consumers to view feedback and find their nearest Motor Ombudsman accredited garage quickly and easily. There is also an online vehicle recall database
  • We conduct marketing and PR initiatives to drive increased awareness of the benefits of The Motor Ombudsman to consumers and accredited businesses
How is The Motor Ombudsman funded?

Like many ombudsman services, we are funded by fees paid for by our accredited businesses which are made up of vehicle manufacturers, vehicle warranty product providers, independent garages and franchised dealers who have signed up to one or more of our four Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Motor Industry Codes of Practice. This is to ensure the service is free for consumers, making it as accessible as possible.

Who is our Chief Ombudsman and what is their role?

Bill Fennell is our Chief Ombudsman and the Managing Director of The Motor Ombudsman. The Chief Ombudsman is appointed by the Board of Directors of The Motor Ombudsman, and Bill has ultimate responsibility for the operation of The Motor Ombudsman scheme, including overseeing the annual business plan and budget management. He is also tasked with liaising with key stakeholders, overseeing casework policy, ensuring casework quality and ensuring that all activities are compliant with ombudsman processes, amongst other requirements.

Who is the in-house Ombudsman and what is their role?

Natasha Gasson, a graduate in law with experience in alternative dispute resolution, is the Ombudsman and her primary responsibility is to review cases and issue a final decision if they have not been resolved through the adjudication process.

She is also responsible for providing information to both accredited businesses and consumers, recommending improvements for individual businesses and the industry and developing and improving TMO's alternative dispute resolution process.

Is a final decision from the Ombudsman binding?

The final decision from our Ombudsman is binding if the consumer accepts it. If the decision goes in the consumer’s favour, you must then award what the consumer is due as you have agreed to our Terms and Conditions.

However, if the consumer doesn’t accept it, the final decision is not binding. In this instance, they are then free to pursue their case in a court of law, but the Ombudsman’s decision may still be taken into account when a judgement is delivered.

How does The Motor Ombudsman differ from other providers of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

We operate exclusively within the automotive industry, and provide sector-specific expertise and knowledge. We are also founded on eight years’ experience of resolving disputes in the sector. To deliver fair and consistent resolutions, we consider the Codes of Practice, any relevant legislation and industry standards. Our Codes are the most comprehensive in the sector, covering the full car ownership experience, and have the largest number of accredited businesses of any automotive ADR provider.

In addition, for continued consistency, the entire dispute resolution process, from adjudication to a final decision, is in-house.

Is The Motor Ombudsman fully impartial?

Yes, The Motor Ombudsman is fully impartial and listens to both sides to deliver consistently fair outcomes.

To ensure total impartiality, and that all enquiries, requests for information and cases have been handled correctly, The Motor Ombudsman’s four Codes of Practice are overseen by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme and The Motor Ombudsman is monitored by the Independent Compliance Assessment Panel (ICAP), the Chartered Trading Standards Institute as our approver for providing ADR and a board of directors, where the majority are from a non-automotive background.

An annual report and separate ICAP report will be published every year to ensure transparency in relation to The Motor Ombudsman’s activities.

Which businesses can become accredited to a Code of Practice?

Subject to meeting the application criteria and the necessary quality standards, organisations that can become a Motor Ombudsman-accredited business are as follows:

The New Car Code:

  • Vehicle manufacturers only

The Service and Repair Code:

  • Franchised car dealerships
  • Independent garages (including fast-fit specialists and MOT stations)

The Vehicle Sales Code:

  • Franchised car dealerships
  • Independent used car outlets
  • Service and repair garages that also sell used cars

The Vehicle Warranty Products Code:

  • Vehicle warranty providers only
How do you become accredited to the Service and Repair and Vehicle Sales Codes of Practice?

You can apply for accreditation by submitting an application through our website, and complete an online self-assessment. This is checked thoroughly by us to ensure compliance, and proof of documentation must be supplied by you within 30 days of the application to satisfy all of the rigorous screening and quality criteria. Once the accreditation has been approved, and is live, you will then be vetted by on-site spot checks to ensure that you are continuing to meet the accreditation criteria.

What are the costs of becoming accredited to a Code of Practice?

The cost of annual accreditation to a single Code is £195+VAT. The cost to gain accreditation to a second Code if you are already accredited is £99+VAT per year. The annual cost of dual accreditation is therefore £294+VAT.

You are able to be accredited to more than one Code of Practice, if relevant, as long as you meet the necessary criteria.

In the event that an accredited business has made no attempt to resolve the complaint, and the ombudsman makes a final decision in the consumer’s favour following a breach of the Service and Repair Code or Vehicle Sales Code, the accredited business will be required to pay £99+VAT per case.

Can we still assist consumers if the business is not accredited to a Code of Practice?

We will not be able to take on a complaint about a business which is not accredited to a Code of Practice, but can provide information and signpost consumers to other organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

How long does it take to resolve a dispute?

This varies depending on the complexity of the case. Some complaints will be suitable for a swift early resolution by an adjudicator, and so can take be very quick to resolve - usually a maximum of 5 working days. For complaints where adjudication is required, it can take up to 90 days for a decision from when we accept the complaint although we aim to deliver a decision within 15 working days. The full dispute resolution process can be found (here).

What key benefits does The Motor Ombudsman offer accredited businesses?
  • It is cost effective - the accreditation fees are likely to be less than the legal fees if a case went to court
  • For your accreditation fee, you receive an unlimited number of adjudications and, under the Service and Repair and Vehicle Sales Codes, you only pay a case fee if a final decision is made in the consumer's favour and you made no attempt to resolve the complaint
  • Adjudication is delivered completely in-house based on the Codes of Practice and relevant legislation, in the event that a dispute with a customer cannot be resolved internally, leading to consistently fair resolutions
  • Adhering to one or more of The Motor Ombudsman’s Codes of Practice helps to raise standards and means there is somewhere that both the consumer and accredited business can go if they are unable to resolve the dispute together
  • The ability to display the Motor Ombudsman and CTSI-Approved Code logos on your premises and corporate literature
  • Tailored information from The Motor Ombudsman’s legally-trained and highly-experienced team of adjudicators
  • A free company listing on the Garage Finder and CTSI websites to drive increased footfall
  • Access to online training courses in Alternative Dispute Resolution and the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which have been developed with the CTSI. Both training courses are CPD certified, and modules can be stopped and started to suit an individual’s workload (i.e. they are SCORM-compliant)
Will further Motor Industry Codes Of Practice be introduced going forward?

The Motor Ombudsman will continue to review any requirements for additional Codes of Practice in line with industry demand, and further Codes will be introduced as appropriate.

How do I renew my accreditation?

You can login and renew through the The Motor Ombudsman website login page by debit or credit card. If you need to send in a cheque, or would like to pay by BACS, please contact our team on 0207 344 1651 (option 2) to get the necessary information required, or if you are unsure of your login details.

Please can we have an invoice or receipt for our payment?

Invoices can be found in your Account page when logging onto the portal. If you require a invoice before payment, please call and speak to our team on 020 7344 1651 (option 2) who will arrange this.

I don't seem to be showing as an accredited business on the Garage Finder

Please check that

  1. Your accreditation is renewed by logging into the portal to make sure you haven't expired.
  2. Check your map location is correct in your account.

If 1 and 2 are correct, please feel free to call us on 020 7344 1651 and we will investigate.

I have forgotten my login details/we have new contacts and need to update the records

You can request a new password via the website. If you are unsure of your username, please call us on 020 7344 1651 (option 2) to remind you or to amend it for you.

How do I register?

You can register online via the website. Call us on 020 7344 1651 (option 2) if you need help applying or if you have any questions about becoming accredited to The Motor Ombudsman.

How do we order consumer guides, a replacement certificate or any other Code Shop items?

Please login into the portal and click on Code Shop to place a order by Debit or Credit card. If you require a different form of payment, please print off the Order Form and send back to us with a cheque or BACS to business@tmo-org.uk

How do we appeal against a review of our business?

We suggest you initially refer the customer to The Motor Ombudsman Information Line on 0345 241 3008, as we may be able to help in resolving the dispute or offering some guidance. Otherwise please email us at business@tmo-org.uk with a summary of what happened with the customer and why you think the survey should be removed. We will review your appeal and respond within 48 hours.