The Removal Industry Ombudsman Scheme comprises a Board of four members, only one of whom has any connection with the removals industry.
The appointed Ombudsman, Tony Kaye, BA, MBA, MBCS, MCIArb (Full membership of the Institute of Arbitrators), operates from separate premises and is able to adjudicate in disputes on a totally fair and equitable basis.
Membership of the Scheme, for individual removal companies, is through their membership of participating trade bodies. Once a company has signed up for the Scheme, all their removal activities are eligible to go forward to the Ombudsman, should a serious dispute arise. Company documentation and sales literature can display the "Ombudsman Scheme Member" logo.
The National Guild of Removers and Storers is currently the principal member, together with the National Independent Removals Industry Inspectorate.
The types of complaint that the Ombudsman can deal with include: a breach of a Code of Practice; delays; a failure to provide the service promised; excessive charges over and above what was agreed, or allegations of unprofessional conduct.
The Ombudsman cannot deal with frivolous complaints; those complaints which are already being considered under legal procedures; complaints that are, or have been the subject of a submission to another ADR provider; matters of insurance or debt; any complaints about a non-member of the Scheme, or complaints sent past the deadlines.
If there is a problem with a removal or storage, a complaint must first be taken up with the company concerned, which will try to resolve the issue through their own internal complaints procedures which may include use of their trade body. If the customer is not satisfied, then the Ombudsman will consider the matter. He will try to gain the agreement of both parties, but if that is not successful, he may recommend an award of compensation, or decide that under the circumstances, no further action is required.
The findings of the Ombudsman are binding on the removal company, but not on the consumer. If the consumer does not accept the adjudication then his/her legal rights will not have been restricted in any way, and litigation is not barred.