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ombudsman news

issue 79

September/October 2009

ombudsman news "Q&A" page

featuring questions that businesses and advice workers have raised recently with the ombudsman's technical advice desk - our free, expert service for professional complaints-handlers

How do I get hold of copies of the leaflet that my business needs to send consumers as part of the complaints process-

Copies of our consumer leaflet, your complaint and the ombudsman, are available from us in packs of 25 - at a cost of £5 per pack including postage and packing.

Simply complete the order form and send it to us, together with a cheque for the correct amount.

Copies are free to public libraries and consumer advice agencies, such as Trading Standards departments and Citizens Advice Bureaux - who should phone us on 020 7964 0092.

Businesses that regularly require a very large quantity of leaflets and have complex distribution arrangements may prefer to print the leaflet themselves "under licence". Broadly speaking, this means we give businesses copyright permission to reproduce the leaflet to our exact specifications and to have it printed, using sheet-fed offset litho.

Businesses must not send consumers photocopies of our leaflet - or hard-copy print-outs of it from the website. But in cases where a consumer has referred their complaint to a business by email - then rather than posting a printed version of the leaflet, the business may email the consumer a hypertext link to the version of the leaflet that is on our website. However, the business should still remind the consumer that it can post a hard-copy of the leaflet to them on request.

As with all our other publications, the consumer leaflet is available on request in other languages (Welsh, Urdu etc) and in different formats (audiotape/CD, Braille, large print etc).

Please call us on 020 7964 0766 or email for more information.

I see that the questions on this page are issues that have been raised with your technical advice desk. Could you let me know a bit more about the technical advice desk - and the kind of things it can help with-

Our technical advice desk is a resource for the businesses we cover and for community advice workers (for example, trading standards officers, Citizens Advice staff, community workers etc).

As well as explaining how the ombudsman service works and helping you find any information about us that you need, our technical advice desk can give an informal steer on how the ombudsman service is likely to view specific issues.

However, it does not decide cases. The informal help it gives is based on information provided by only one of the parties to a complaint - and is not binding if the complaint is later referred to the ombudsman service.

You can contact the technical advice desk on 020 7964 1400 (10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday) or email

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ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.