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Complaints against shops focus of new ombudsman service

May 11, 2017

Customers in dispute with supermarkets and other retailers can now take their problems to the new Trade Ombudsman launched this week by retail federation Comeos. There are already 40 retail chains representing more than 4,000 outlets in Belgium signed up to the service, which is free to consumers.

“We are accepting our responsibilities as a sector,” said Comeos CEO Dominique Michel. “Consumers need to be confident that they can count on the best post-sales service possible. But they also need to know that they can seek a solution if things go wrong.”

The new service is made up mostly of supermarkets and big-box chains such as Dreamland, Brico, Carrefour, Colruyt, Delhaize, Lidl, Media Markt and Standaard Boekhandel. Federal consumer affairs minister Kris Peeters told VRT that he hoped others would quickly join the list.

On the website, customers can find information about their rights, whether purchasing online or in a store, and lodge a complaint if all other attempts to reach an agreement with the retailer have failed. The retailer first receives and responds to the complaint.

If the customer is still not happy, the ombudsservice takes over. Customers can only file a complaint against retailers that are signed up to the service.

Lidl CEO Boudewijn van de Brand stressed that the company’s own customer service remains the place to address complaints in the vast majority of cases. “But we are aiming for 100% customer-friendliness,” he said. “That’s why that remaining 1% of exceptional cases have to be dealt with.”

Photo courtesy Colruyt Group

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