Dispute between Bekra Models and Ombudsman Services Ltd

This page is intended to assist anyone hoping for any help from either either Ofcom or Ombudsman Services. Ofcom won't deal with individual cases and Ombudsman Services Ltd are paid by the company you are complaining about. While you are complaining to Ombudsman Services believing them to be impartial the company you are complaining about will be expecting to make a profit even after paying Ombudsman Services for their part in the debt collection process. Your complaint might be unique to you but to both a supplier and Ombudsman Services  it will be one of thousands of similar complaints - there is no need for any form of collusion for a company to know the result in advance. For someone making a complaint about a company this might well look like wasting time and money on a lottery with no winning numbers.

To have a dispute settled privately without the possibility of any penalty is of immense value to a company like (for example) Unicom. Looking at the recent case when Ofcom investigated Unicom the result was a 200,000 fine and public exposure causing the company to change its name. In fairness, after years of quietly dealing with complaints through Ombudsman Services both the fine and the reason for the fine probably came as a complete surprise  -  Ofcom claimed Unicom were "misleading customers" - not "making mistakes which were rectified as quickly as possible" or any of the other unconvincing nonsense used by Ombudsman Services to justify their claim for payment with expenses.

As Ombudsman Services say "The entire system of civil justice and consumer redress is undergoing a once in a generation change, with new legislation set to alter forever the way that consumers seek redress. Ombudsman Services is at the heart of this change and has doubled in size over the last two years.". Presumeably this means twice as many people prepared to pretend 1+1=3 ... good news for Ombudsman Services and companies like Unicom (now Verastar) but (God help us) very bad news for consumers and  businesses dealing with what Ofcom (very politely) call "misleading" salesmen and contracts.

The Ombudsman Services records should be made publicly available - they are a valuable resource showing the type of trick any given company is most likely to attempt - dividing them into disputes won and lost would give advance notice of the type of trick Ombudsman Services are most likely to attempt. I note the Financial Ombudsman provides a searchable database of cases dating back to 2013.

As an example of the type...

The complaint
In December 2014 Mr C agreed a contract with U for two lines to start in February 2015. U then advised Mr C they had made up a contract for three lines for three years and he was scheduled to be conned out of 1,350 (later reduced to 450). Mr C objected to the con on the grounds that it was a transparent attempt to gain financial advantage by deception.

The Decision
Under Ofcom rules a customer isn't required to agree to a contract for it to be valid - once covered by Ombudsman Services Ltd a supplier can say anything - true - false - a pack of lies - complete nonsense - absolutely anything - doesn't matter, Ombudsman Services are there for them. Bogus contracts are a valuable source of income for both Ombudsman Services and the suppliers we support - by transferring to another supplier Mr C deprived U of a windfall profit of between 450 and 1,350. Looking at the numbers supplied by U the higher figure might lead to a court case and 450 is sufficient to cover expenses so we find that Mr C should give U 450 [easy terms are suggested].

If we imagine U to be a company set up by a convicted fraudster and note that Ombudsman Services had no reservations whatsoever about going along with the con - in the real world we'd find the company set up by the convicted fraudster has (slightly) more integrity than Ombudsman Services Ltd.

John Cockroft 08/01/2018