Christopher Hamer
Consumer Action
Monitor Research
Making the problem right 74%
An apology 44%
Financial compensation 27%
Good complaints handling
can increase operating
profits by between 2%
and 3%
By lessening the time spent on
Re-allocation of resources to more
commercial activities
Enhance reputation of the firm
Data collected from complaints can
be a source of management
information to identify areas for
commercial improvement
What can you do to stop
complaints arising
Keep records
clarity of fees,
Deal with the
Meet any
promises made
to consumer or
explain why
you can’t
Definition of a complaint
‘An expression of dissatisfaction, whether
oral or written, and whether justified or not,
from or on behalf of an eligible complainant
about the provision of, or failure to provide
a service’
Handling the
 Structured approach to complaints
 Somebody not involved in the
 If you’ve done something wrong
admit it
 Clear explanation of your stance
 Adhere to a reasonable
 Keep the consumer informed
 Learn from the complaint
Likely areas of
Fees, Premiums
Description of items
Conduct of the Auction
Failure to act on sellers instructions
General service matters
He said this… I said that…
The mystery of the missing
An elderly client has made a complaint because a plate that she says was
collected for delivery to your showroom did not appear in the lots that you sold.
The client is seeking compensation for the lost plate, but you have no record of
receiving it. The client is also upset that her telephone calls to your office have
been ignored.
What is your response?
What other information might you need?
What do the TPO general
membership obligations say?
 You must provide a service consistent with fairness, integrity, and best
 You should not take advantage of consumers because of their age or
any other vulnerability.
 You must keep clear and full written records and produce them when
What would your response
be if…
 You had no record of the items collected
from the client’s home?
 Your record of the items collected from the
client matched the lots that were sold?
 The client had been telephoning your offices
several times a day to discuss the missing
Case study…
An elderly woman had decided to sell some furniture from her home at auction. When
it came for the furniture to be collected, the Complainant had decided to add some
ornaments to the items to be sold, including an ornamental plate. The Complainant
alleged that the auction house had lost this plate, but this was denied by the auction
The Ombudsman found that although a receipt had been prepared for the items
collected from the Complainant, this had not been fully itemised, and the auction house
had acknowledged taking delivery of some items not appearing on that receipt.
Although the Ombudsman could not conclude that the auction house had lost the plate,
it was considered that the auction houses failure to maintain full written records had
allowed the dispute to arise. The Ombudsman also criticised the auction house for their
approach to the complaint, as it was apparent that several telephone calls made by the
Complainant had not been returned, and that the auction house had not made proper
allowance for the Complainant’s age and relative lack of experience.
The Ombudsman made a compensatory award of £100.
Key points…
 Keep full written records of all transactions. The onus is on you as
the professional party to be able to evidence your actions.
 Treat all consumers fairly and with courtesy.
 Act with integrity, and in accordance with best practice.
 Be aware that some consumers may be vulnerable, and take
special care in your dealings with them.
Misleading marketing
A buyer who purchased a plot of land at auction has made a complaint because,
having purchased the land, it became apparent that the plot was contaminated
with oil and solvents.
The buyer alleges that he was misled by you as the contamination of the land
was not disclosed to him. The buyer is seeking compensation in the sum of half
the sale price.
What is your response?
What other information might you need?
What do the TPO general
membership obligations say?
 You must always act within the law in the conduct of your business.
 You must not engage in any banned practice, misleading practice, or
misleading omission as defined in the Consumer Protection from
Unfair Trading Regulations (the CPRs).
 You must ensure that all advertising and marketing material is honest,
decent, and truthful.
Consumer Protection from
Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
 Covers information which would affect an average consumer’s
transactional decision.
 Relevant information should be provided at the earliest appropriate
 Information provided must not be misleading, and relevant
information must not be omitted.
 Includes information which you should reasonably be aware of, not
just information of which you are aware.
What would your response
be if…
 The seller had advised you when completing
their legal pack that the land was not
 You were aware that the land had been used
as a commercial garage?
 The seller had set a reserve higher than the
guide price stated in your advert?
Case study…
A buyer had purchased a parcel of land at auction, and later complained when it
became apparent that the land was contaminated by a quantity of buried asbestos. The
buyer considered that the auction house instructed to sell the land ought to have been
aware of this contamination, and disclosed it to him. The agent contended that they had
been unaware of the contamination.
Evidence submitted by the buyer in this instance indicated that the contamination of
the land was historic, and had arisen as a result of an unauthorised use of the land. The
seller of the land had advised the agent that the land was not contaminated, and there
were no visible signs of contamination above ground. In such circumstances, the
Ombudsman considered that the agent was reasonably entitled to rely on the
information provided by the seller as there was nothing to put the agent on notice that
such information was inaccurate.
The Ombudsman did not support the complaint.
Key points…
 Take all reasonable steps to ensure that the information you
provide about an item, land or property you are instructed to sell is
accurate and not misleading.
 Double-check any information provided by a seller that you think
may be incorrect.
 Don’t omit or withhold information you think potential buyers may
find off-putting.
• Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act
Consumer Contract Regulations
TPO Codes of Practice
ASA Ruling on reserve prices
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading
Regulations 2008
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading
Regulations 2008
Situated on the cliff top with uninterrupted views over Poole Bay stretching from the Isle of Wight
in the East across to the Isle of Purbeck in the West. The apartment benefits from 3 bedrooms, 2
bathrooms, fully fitted kitchen, lounge with access out on to the patio and direct access down to
the beach. The perfect place to unwind and enjoy watching the sunsets.
Thank you
The Property Ombudsman
Milford House
43-55 Milford Street
Twitter: @TPOmb

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