The Removal Industry Ombudsman Scheme (RIOS) comprises a Board of Directors, of whom one has a prior connection with the removals industry.
The appointed Ombudsman, Tony Kaye operates from separate premises and adjudicates in disputes on an independent and impartial 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 (NGRS) is currently the principal Member, together with the National Independent Removals Industry Inspectorate.
RIOS was initiated and set up by NGRS. All of the trade members of NGRS are inspected and are obliged, by virtue of their membership of NGRS, to accept the Ombudsman’s decisions. If they do not accept a decision, they are removed from membership.
NGRS pays an annual fee to the Ombudsman scheme.
The Board of RIOS is appointed by the Members but once appointed acts independently of those Members.
The Board of Directors is responsible for appointing the Ombudsman and managing the scheme. However, the Board cannot influence or intervene in any aspect of the Ombudsman’s work regarding determining disputes. The Ombudsman alone is responsible for deciding what should happen with each case.
All aspects of the administration of the scheme are managed by the Board.
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. 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 the consumer can pursue an action in court.