The government approved scheme is inviting small and medium-sized shops to apply to become accredited retailers in order to boost their reputations on the high street and online.
After passing a strict criteria test, they will be allowed to display a gold tick and the Retail Ombudsman’s logo on their websites and merchandising.
Chief ombudsman Dean Dunham (pictured) says: “There are thousands of small retailers and many thousands more springing up online.
“This presents the consumer with the problem of ‘who can I trust?’
“Many take the easy option of choosing to shop instead at the more recognisable high street shops.
“This has always been frustrating for smaller retailers, many of which have excellent customer care policies - except the customer doesn’t know it.
“When the customer sees the Retail Ombudsman’s gold tick, they will know they can trust the retailer as much as the biggest names on the high street.”
Retail Ombudsman Accredited Member status tells the consumer:
• They have terms and conditions of business that are legally compliant, fair and easy to understand.
• They have a fair returns policy.
• They have a fair complaints policy.
• The Retail Ombudsman has verified their VAT status (if applicable), verified their contact details, carried out a unique check of their website and taken up references from past customers.
The Accredited Member scheme is being rolled out and offered to retailers in all sectors.
The Retail Ombudsman’s membership fees start from £100 (plus VAT) per year.